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Need to Know: Five moments that led to the Redskins' NFC East title

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Need to Know: Five moments that led to the Redskins' NFC East title

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 29, five days before the Washington Redskins travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys.

Five moments that led to the Redskins’ 2015 NFC East title

The Redskins clinched the 2015 division title on Saturday when DeAngelo Hall scooped up Demarco Murray’s fumble and ran 17 yards to the end zone. It was at that point where the Eagles’ win probability plummeted to just about zero. But other moments led up to that. Here is a look at a few of them.

The 2015 NFL draft—There wasn’t one moment there but rather a series of moments when the Redskins turned in cards for some players who proved to be very productive. It’s hard to see the Redskins being as successful as they were this year without the steady play of Brandon Scherff at guard, Preston Smith’s pass rush in the latter stages of the season, some big plays by Matt Jones, some spectacular catches by Jamison Crowder, and the versatility of safety/nickel corner Kyshoen Jarrett.

“It’s Kirk’s team”—On August 31, Jay Gruden announced that Kirk Cousins would be the starting quarterback for the season. Many predicted that controversy and turmoil would still be standard operating procedure at Redskins Park. After a somewhat shaky start for Cousins, with the Redskins going 2-4, things started to click and they haven’t looked back.

Onside kick vs. the Bucs—The Redskins were on the comeback trail after falling behind Tampa Bay 24-0 in the first half. But they needed a boost and after Cousins threw to Ryan Grant for a touchdown to make it 24-14 in the third quarter they created one. Dustin Hopkins perfectly executed a surprise onside kick and Trenton Robinson recovered for the Redskins. Seven plays later Cousins threw to Jordan Reed for three yards to make it a three-point game and the Redskins eventually came out with a 31-30 win.

Matt Jones’ catch against the Bears—The Redskins had led 14-0 and 21-7 in Chicago but they were very much in danger of having their first road win of the season slip from their grasp. Up 24-21, the Redskins were trying to burn the clock out with about four minutes to play. On third and five, Cousins scrambled to the right, stopped, and fired a pass across the field to Jordan Reed. The ball went off of Reed’s hands But Matt Jones was there to grab the ball before it hit the ground, giving the Redskins a key first down at the Bears 45. Although the Redskins had to punt, the play gave them enough time off the clock and enough field position to hold off the Bears for the win.

DeSean Jackson’s 77-yard TD catch against the Bills—The Redskins led 21-3 in the third quarter and the Bills were starting to move the ball. On first down from the 23, Jackson went down the left sideline. He had to slow down around midfield to gather in Cousins’ pass. He evaded two defenders, ran through an attempted ankle tackle, and outran the defense to the end zone. That gave the Redskins the working margin they needed to survive a Bills push on offense and get out of FedEx Field with a 35-25 win.

I'm sure you have some additions to the list; feel free to chime in with them in the comments. 

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings at Redskins Park, no availability

Days until: Redskins @Cowboys 5; start of NFL playoffs 11; start of divisional round 18

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

RELATED: PRESTON SMITH ENTERING VITAL YEAR

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Josh Doctson's short tweet delivers good news for Redskins

Josh Doctson's short tweet delivers good news for Redskins

Josh Doctson’s tweet left 136 characters on the table but he didn’t need any more to deliver some good news to Redskins fans.

The wide receiver was the Redskins’ top pick in the 2016 draft. At 6-2 and an ability to high point the ball he repeatedly demonstrated at TCU, it was hoped he would add a different dimension to the Redskins’ fast but relatively short receiving corps.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

But it didn’t happen. An Achilles tendon injury flared up during preseason activities and he was very limited in OTAs. He was on the PUP list during training camp and the preseason games. Doctson was on the 53-man roster to start the season but after 31 snaps and one reception in two games he was shut down for the season.

Jay Gruden was apparently frustrated by the injury and throughout the season he wasn’t sure when Doctson would be ready.

MORE REDSKINS: 3 takeaways from talking to Allen

But last month via social media Docston sent out some pictures of him doing some strenuous work at Redskins Park. It appears that he was in Tampa today working with Jon Gruden and some other Redskins. The tweet from Doctson came a short time after this picture from one of Terrelle Pryor’s social media accounts was posted.

It should be noted that doing work in shorts a T-shirts does not equal being effective in an NFL regular season game. But it’s a good first step and considering Doctson barely took any steps last year that’s a good development.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.