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Despite plenty of excuses to lose, Redskins went out and won

Despite plenty of excuses to lose, Redskins went out and won

The Redskins had plenty of excuses to lose.

Two of their best players didn't suit up. A poorly timed turnover. Continued red zone struggles. Coughing up a lead, and, coughing up a game's momentum.

But here's what's happened: The Redskins won.

In Sunday's 26-20 defeat of the Vikings, Washington could have lost a few different ways.

And if players or coaches wanted to, they could have made excuses.

Trent Williams didn't play, serving the first game of a four week-suspension. Few teams can afford to lose an elite talent like Williams, especially against a defensive front like the Vikings. 

But Bill Callahan's unit would make no excuses.

DeSean Jackson didn't play either, still dealing with a shoulder injury sustained two weeks prior in London. Though Jackson's numbers are down this season, his impact on the offense can't always be measured, and without him, surely the 'Skins offense would become more stagnant.

But Kirk Cousins' offense would make no excuses.

RELATED: THE BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' WEEK 10 WIN

To a man - from head coach Jay Gruden to seldom used special teams players - the Redskins insisted on the Next Man Up philosopy that winning teams embrace. After three straight weeks without a win, Washington went out and took one, regardless of how close they came to a different result.

"Quite frankly, I don’t think you ever step into a football game without urgency, otherwise you get beat," Gruden said after his team moved to 5-3-1 on the year.

Like they've done in previous home games against the Browns and the Eagles, the Skins got out to an early 14-0 lead.

For a stretch, it looked like Washington would roll to a big win over the slumping Vikings, but like against the Browns and Eagles, the Redskins could not pull away. Minnesota clawed back to tie, and even took the lead going into halftime.

"We just had to keep our poise. I remind them every game this year, we’ve been leading and we’ve been trailing, and today’s no different," the coach said. "We just have to continue to handle the adversity, the adverse situations."

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM REDSKINS' WIN OVER VIKINGS

In the second half the Redskins defense did just that - shutting down the Minnesota attack, allowing zero points over the game's final 30 minutes.

"We have a pretty good resolve in this locker room. We know every game is going to be close," Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. "We know most games we’re playing are going to be close and you have to have that mindset going into every game that you have to play for a full 60 minutes.”

A good effort against a mediocre Vikings offense, the Washington defense was spurred to victory by Preston Smith's two sacks and an interception.

In a way, Smith's breakout game exemplifies what the Redskins did to win against the Vikes. Underwhelming at times this season despite showing great promise last year, Smith made the crucial interception when his team needed it most. 

"He answered the bell, he really did," Gruden said. "Preston showed up in a big way."

Smith wasn't the only one to 'answer the bell.' 

Ty Nsekhe answered the bell at left tackle with Williams out. Pierre Garçon had a season high 81 receiving yards with Jackson out.

"We do miss those players, without a doubt," Gruden said of Jackson and Williams. "The guys that played I’m very happy for, proud of the way they came and competed. It wasn’t too big for them and they made plays.”

In just his second season, Jamison Crowder has become Cousins' most trusted receiver. Leading the team in touchdowns and catches, Crowder again impressed, and afterwards, he explained that the whole offense stepped up with D-Jax on the sideline.

"We knew that with him being out we lost a big-time weapon but, you know, we just have to go out there and still have to do our job," Crowder said. "I wouldn’t say that we were pressured but we knew that we had to step it up another notch and make plays."

Then there is Robert Kelley, an undrafted rookie who has supplanted 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones as the starting running back.

"I really like the way these guys play. It’s a great effort. The guys are stepping up to fill in for crucial players," Gruden said. "A lot of guys are stepping up, everybody’s pitching in and doing their part, whether it’s one catch or five catches. Whether it’s one tackle or five tackles, everyone’s pitching in and doing their part."

To be clear, there is plenty to criticize from the Skins game on Sunday.

Red zone struggles continue to plague Washington, and the problem became very apparent in the second half against the Vikings. Cousins threw a highly questionnable ball early in the game that could have been intercepted, and Chris Thompson had an unfortunate fumble just before halftime. And, oh yeah, the Redskins defense proved entirely incapable of slowing former Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs.

RELATED: COUSINS EXPLAINS ORIGIN OF POSTGAME CELEBRATION

But for the Redskins, there will be no excuses. 

That's the fun thing about winning. Problems can be addressed, but excuses aren't made. Yes, DeSean and Trent didn't play, but the team won without them. Yes, Cousins' group left points on the field, again, but the team won despite it. 

Believe it or not, those are signs of good teams.

This Redskins team isn't great — but they are good. And there's a lot of season left to keep improving. 

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Bruce Allen goes full Belichick when talking about Snapchat

Bruce Allen goes full Belichick when talking about Snapchat

When it comes to incorrectly identifying the names of social media platforms, Bill Belichick is the standard-bearer and industry leader. Examples of terms recently uttered by the head coach include gems like "MyFace" and "Yearbook," as the football icon has demonstrated he's somewhat aware of the sites and apps yet doesn't really care about them.

Bruce Allen, though, may have just laid claim to Belichick's crown. In a 1-on-1 interview with CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay, Allen discussed how he's not involved at all on social media and then proceeded to give Snapchat a glorious new name.

"I don't get to pay attention to everything," Allen told Finlay when asked if the team president keeps up with the constant rumors surrounding Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.

"You're not on Twitter all the time?" Finlay interjected.

"No, I don't have Twitter," Allen answered, laughing, "and I'm not on Snapper-chapper or whatever it's called."

Allen was in the neighborhood by starting off with "Snap," but the rest of his attempt showed he's not exactly on the right street. Fortunately, unlike Belichick, Jay Gruden has gotten Snapchat's name right in the past, and could likely help Allen get used to the app if Allen ever decides to start using it.

MORE REDSKINS: JIM TOMSULA'S SNOT HAS CAUGHT BRUCE ALLEN'S EYE

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What has Bruce Allen noticed so far about Jim Tomsula? His snot

What has Bruce Allen noticed so far about Jim Tomsula? His snot

By signing free agents Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain, Bruce Allen handed new Redskins defensive line coach Jim Tomsula two pieces that the assistant apparently had his eyes on.

"He gave us specific instructions of the type of defensive lineman he was looking for and who he thought could fit our new defensive scheme," Allen told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay in a lengthy 1-on-1 interview at the owner's meetings in Phoenix.

So, after crossing those two names off of Tomsula's shopping list, what should Allen buy now for Tomsula? Well, after hearing the next part of Allen and Finlay's conversation, it sounds like a bunch of tissues would be appropriate.

MORE REDSKINS: THE TEAM SAYS THEY WANT TO KEEP COUSINS, BUT DO THEY MEAN IT?

"Have you seen any of the Tomsula clips from the Combine?" Finlay asked Washington's team president, referring to the drills that Tomsula led in very intense fashion. "He's got some scary looking eyes."

"I saw it from watching on the field," Allen responded. "If there's a close-up of him, I'm sure they saw some live snot somewhere in there."

Tomsula has been a part of the Redskins organization for barely more than two months, and he's already intentionally collided with one draft prospect and also impressed/shocked/worried one of his bosses with the amount of mucus his nose produces.

Long live Jim Tomsula.

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