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Fletcher: 'You can feel the excitement'

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Fletcher: 'You can feel the excitement'

In summary: Only one thing mattered to 37-year-old London Fletcher following Monday night’s 17-16 victory over the Giants: The Redskins' season remains relevant. 

“Playing meaningful games in December, it’s just a different atmosphere, a different feeling, a different preparation,” Fletcher said after gutting out another game on a gimpy ankle. “You can tell the excitement of the fans, the city. Just coming into the stadium, you saw how many people were out here early, ready for this game.”

Fletcher was asked if he could recall the last time FedEx Field rocked the way it did Monday. 

“This is the loudest I’ve seen FedEx since the Dallas game, the last game [of the] 2007 season,” he said after a moment of contemplation. Fletcher was referring to the Redskins’ wild-card clinching victory over the Cowboys in the 2007 season finale.

With their third consecutive win, the Redskins, at 6-6, have vaulted themselves back into the thick of the NFC East and wild card races. The Giants, meantime, fell to 7-5, while the Cowboys also sit at 6-6 after Sunday’s victory over the Eagles.

If you think about it, if we lose this game, we go down three games to the Giants,” Fletcher said. “It would have been highly unlikely for us to have a chance of winning the division. But now we’re a game back. We just made it very interesting.”

Interesting, indeed. 

Turning point: Early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins found themselves trailing 16-10. But Robert Griffin III directed a methodical, 12-play, 86-yard drive that culminated with an eight-yard Pierre Garçon touchdown reception that put the home team ahead for good. Garçon finished with eight receptions for 106 yards – three yards shy of his season-high.

“We came through when we needed to,” Garçon said. “That’s what a good team does when their back is against the wall.”

Offensive play of the game: Late in the first quarter, Josh Morgan scored his first touchdown of the season in bizarre fashion. The wide receiver was the pitchman on an option when Griffin, tucked the ball and turned up field. Griffin, however, fumbled at the Giants’ 13-yard line, bobbling the ball up in the air – and right into the hands of a streaking Morgan.

“It just bounced my way,” Morgan said laughing. “We game planned the option. We ain’t game-planned for him to do it the way he did it, but he made it happen. It worked out.”

It marked the second time this season a wide receiver recovered a Griffin fumble for a touchdown. In Tampa, Garçon pounced on a loose ball in the end zone.

Defensive play of the game: In the fourth quarter, the Redskins were clinging to a one-point lead when the pass rush finally delivered. Linebacker Rob Jackson sacked Eli Manning for a seven-yard loss at the Giants’ 14-yard line. The sack forced the visitors’ to punt and swung the momentum toward the Redskins for good.

Special teams play of the game: As important as Kai Forbath’s 33-yard field goal in the second quarter proved to be in a one-point victory, the Redskins benefited greatly from Lawrence Tynes missing a 43-yarder a few minutes earlier. Tynes entered the game tied for the league lead in field goals made (29) and was 6 of 7 from 40-49 yards out.

Injury report: Tackle Trent Williams said after the game that his bruised thigh, “felt terrible.” But he played through the pain and helped pave the way for the Redskins’ 207 yards on the ground. 

…Fletcher did not arrive in Landover wearing anything on his sprained left ankle but he left wearing an immobilizer boot. He said he did not reinjure the ankle and that the boot was for precautionary reasons.

…Giants tackle Sean Locklear was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, according to Giants Coach Tom Coughlin.

Quote of the day: Coughlin on his team scoring only three points in the final 30 minutes: “This is not real complicated. I don’t know what happened in the second half. They certainly didn’t come out and play.”

Quote of the day, Part II: Griffin joking about the fumble that resulted in a touchdown: “We’ve already gone through this. It was a pitch to Josh. I knew he was going to be there and I’m going to stay with the story.”

Game ball: Alfred Morris gets it after rushing for a career high 124 yards on 22 carries. With 1,106 yards, he broke the Redskins’ rookie record for rushing yards and moved into a tie with Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin for the league lead among rookies.

“It’s huge,” he said. “So much history here and to be able to do that, it says a lot. It’s a blessing, coming from where I came from. A lot of people didn’t think I was going to make the team. But I made the team. I’ve rushed for 1,000 yards and done a lot of things I didn’t think I was going to be able to do. But I believed in myself. And I have a coach that believes in me, and that makes me push that much harder."

By the numbers: The Redskins became the first team in NFL history to have a rookie pass for 2,000 yards and a rookie rush for 1,000 yards, according to the team.

By the numbers, Part II: The Redskins ended a 10-game losing streak at home on Monday night football. Their last win on MNF was over the Cowboys in Oct. 2007.

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When it comes to Madden corners, there's Josh Norman, then everyone else

When it comes to Madden corners, there's Josh Norman, then everyone else

What do Chris Harris Jr., Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson and Darrelle Revis have in common? They're all excellent NFL corners — and they all rank behind Josh Norman when it comes to ratings in Madden 17.

The Bronco (93 overall), the Seahawk (92), the Cardinal (91) and the Jet (91) should be proud of the grades handed to them for the next edition of the legendary video game. It's Norman, though, who's at the top of these top-notch defenders, checking in with a skillset that's good enough for a 94 in the eyes of EA Sports.

"Norman is expected to be a lock down corner for the Redskins this season," reads the description underneath Norman's name in a post ranking the elite cornerbacks that was published Thursday. "He is best in zone with his 97 zone coverage rating, but has the ability to match up in man to man situations with 90 speed and 92 man coverage."

These numbers are subject to change during the course of the season, so if No. 24 has a rough outing or two, he could tumble down a few points and give up the crown to someone else. As it stands now, however, Madden thinks he's the preeminent man at his position. 

And that's something Odell Beckham Jr. can't say.

RELATED: WHY DID SCOT MCCLOUGHAN PUNCH WALL?

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Redskins activate Perry Riley from PUP list, LB set for practice

Redskins activate Perry Riley from PUP list, LB set for practice

After opening training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Redskins coach Jay Gruden announced that LB Perry Riley has been activated and will practice on Friday.

Riley went out last December with a foot injury and missed the Redskins run to the NFC East title. A six-year veteran, Riley was drafted by the 'Skins in 2010 and emerged as a starter in 2011. Riley struggled somewhat early in the 2015 season, but his play was improving into the second half of the year.

"I expect him to come on and continue his strides," Gruden said of Riley's improved play. 

Coindence or not, Riley's play improved once Will Compton took over at starting linebacker for Keenan Robinson.

"I think it did," Gruden said of Riley playing better paired with Compton. "Maybe it's just the whole entire defense got better as the season went on."

Gruden said that the defense as a whole was becoming more comfortable with new coordinator Joe Barry, and that should only increase this season. 

Some think with a $5 million cap number - and a potential savings of $4 million if he was released - Riley could be subject to a roster squeeze. But after Compton and Mason Foster, Riley is the only inside linebacker with significant NFL experience on the roster compared to Martrell Spaight, Steven Daniels and Terence Garvin. 

It will be interesting to watch Riley's return from injury, both to see how he looks, and to watch where he fits with the defense. In nine games last season, Riley grabbed two interceptions and 24 tackles.

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Josh Norman using his physicality to help cure Matt Jones of 'fumble-itis'

Josh Norman using his physicality to help cure Matt Jones of 'fumble-itis'

RICHMOND—Josh Norman was brought to the Redskins to help the defense. But he’s trying to solve one of the potentially biggest problems facing the other side of the ball.

In a part-time role last year, running back Matt Jones fumbled the ball five times, losing four of them. This year Jones is projected to be the full-time running back and if he continues to fumble at the same rate Norman and company will be coming onto the field a lot sooner than they planned on many occasions.

Norman has taken it upon himself to try to fix this. When Jones is carrying the ball Norman makes an effort to knock it out of the back’s arms. It’s become a running competition between the two.

“We crack up all the time because [Jones] knows when he comes to that hole I’m looking for that ball,” said Norman. “I’m punching; I’m looking to get it out of there.”

So far, Jones is doing a good job with ball security, something he’s been working on all offseason.

“He’s holding that thing high and tight and I don’t know if I've got him once yet,” said Norman.

Norman said that his goal is to knock the ball out of Jones’ grasp five times during training camp.

“I’m going to be lurking, trust me, I’m going to try and get it,” he said. “And that makes him better because he knows he’s going to have to hold that thing tight.”