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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

In case you missed it

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John Pagano's resume doesn't deliver Redskins ties, few bright spots

John Pagano's resume doesn't deliver Redskins ties, few bright spots

John Pagano's entire NFL career has been spent in San Diego, not a bad location. Hired by Mary Schottenheimer in 2002, he began as a quality control coach in 2002, then moved up to assistant linebackers coach in 2003. In 2004, he advanced to coach the outside linebackers, and then in 2005 he took over as linebackers coach, a position he held until 2011.

By 2012, his 10th year in the organization, Pagano moved up to defensive coordinator, at that point working under Norv Turner. The former Redskins coach of much of the 1990s, Turner was let go after that season, and Mike McCoy was hired. McCoy retained Pagano to serve as his defensive coordinator, and he stayed in that role until this offseason. 

The circumstances surrounding Pagano's release from the Chargers are a bit sloppy, including this report from a San Diego broadcaster:

The important stuff for Redskins fans: As defensive coordinator his team's twice finished in the Top 10 in yards allowed in 2012 and 2014. That's about the only real highlights on his coordinator resume, though it's worth pointing out few coaches last as long with one organization as Pagano. Below are his defense's ranks from 2012 to last season.

 

It also seems Pagano has no real ties to the Redskins organization, which might be considered an advantage. He never worked directly with Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden or Scot McCloughan, though his team's deployed the 3-4 base like the Washington defense. Pagano's brother Chuck is the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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The Final Countdown: Redskins 8th best play of 2016 comes from blowout vs Packers

The Final Countdown: Redskins 8th best play of 2016 comes from blowout vs Packers

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and at the 10 worst.

No. 8 best play of 2016

Redskins vs. Packers Week 11

2:30 left in Q4, Redskins ball at their own 30, 2nd and 8, Redskins leading 35-24

Rob Kelley right end to GB 4 for 66 yards (Ladarius Gunter).

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

Tandler: The Redskins had held a lead since late in the second quarter but Aaron Rodgers and the Packers kept hanging around. The Redskins were just trying to pick up a first down but Kelley ran through a weak tackle attempt, dodged a defensive back, and bolted down the right side before an ankle tackle got him at the four. Kelley was deprived of the touchdown only momentarily as he ran it in on the next play, putting a bow on the most important win of the year.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

Finlay: Any football fan who has watched the last two weekends of the NFL playoffs knows just how dangerous Aaron Rodgers can be with the ball in his hands late in a game. Rob Kelley's long run eliminated that danger, as he burst through the Packers defense and sealed a huge victory for the Redskins. This game, and the few days leading up to the Cowboys game on Thanksgiving that followed, marked the high point in the 'Skins season. The team had a 6-3-1 record and had just vanquished Green Bay, avenging a playoff loss to the Packers some 10 months earlier. I disagree with Tandler that this was the most important win of the year - that distinction came in the Week 3 victory over the Giants - but it was the best win of the year.

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!