Dave’s Take: Redskins don’t do it the easy way, but they do it

Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) carries the ball past Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo (34) during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. Washington defeated Minnesota 26-20. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) passes the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes the ball under pressure during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)
Washington Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder (80) celebrates his touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON — This winning-in-the-NFL business is not easy, and it has not been for the Redskins. It has been a season of frayed nerves, and Sunday’s 26-20 win over the Vikings is the latest addition to the Redskins’ list of dramatic games.

Four of the Redskins’ five victories this season have been decided by seven points or less. The only “easy” win for the Redskins was 31-20 over the winless Browns, and even that wasn’t so easy: It was tied at halftime.

The Redskins’ 2016 resume also includes one tie, and two of their three defeats have been close. After falling flat in a 38-16 season-opening loss to the Steelers, the Redskins’ only losses have been by four points to the Cowboys and three points to the Lions.

To be sure, this team makes it hard on itself. After securing a 14-0 lead on the Vikings Sunday, the Redskins failed to score a touchdown. Too often, the Redskins are settling for field goals; they’ve dropped to last in the NFL in red-zone scoring. The Redskins only score touchdowns 38 percent of the times they get inside their opponents’ 20-yard line.

They’re not settling when it comes to effort, though, and it shows in how they have been able to wiggle out of so many close calls. This Redskins team is not lucky; they’re motivated and determined.

Head coach Jay Gruden is providing that motivation. Linebacker Preston Smith, who came through with the late sack on Sam Bradford to close the win over the Vikings, says Gruden has been riding him like a jockey on a horse.

The finish line is a way off, but the Redskins continue to show they have what it takes to stay in the race in the NFC East, where every team has a winning record.

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson is Senior Sports Director and morning sports anchor. He first arrived at WTOP in 1989, left in 1992 and returned in 1995. He is a three-time winner of the A.I.R. award as best radio sportscaster in D.C. In 2008 he won the Edward R. Murrow award for best writing for sports commentaries.

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