Much as it’s been labeled a trap game, the Redskins travel to St. Louis insisting Sunday’s contest against the Rams is anything but. They’ve overlooked teams before, and as tempting as it might be to coast into the bye, the 0-3 Rams have the Redskins’ attention.
“We got to go out and play our game,” said Kevin Barnes. “We’re not trying to think about anything called a trap game. [It’s] been proven that any team can beat us – we lost to the Lions [and] we lost to the Rams last year.”
Washington would be wise to take St. Louis seriously. They have played them in three straight seasons and each time the Rams have entered winless. The Redskins are 1-2 in those games and their one win came by a 9-7 score.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett still isn’t over last season’s 30-16 loss in which St. Louis jumped out to a 14-0 lead and then outscored Washington 16-3 in the second half. He told reporters he expects the team to remember last year’s defeat and use it as motivation to play with the same intensity they’ve shown in this year’s first three games.
“We didn’t play well up there,” he said. “We didn’t play well in any facet and we had guys hurt before the game, blocked punts, missed assignments and missed tackles. It was the whole gamut. Our guys are pretty focused and we’ll go out there and play well.”
This season, the Rams are in the process of implementing a new offensive system and dealing with a rash of injuries to key players. However, their slow start doesn’t seem to be putting Washington at ease.
“They’re 0-3, but it’s almost like a little disguised 0-3 because they’ve played some really good opponents,” said NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month Ryan Kerrigan. “You’ve got to kind of take their record with a grain of salt because it doesn’t indicate how good of a team they actually have.”
Former Rams and current Redskins safety Oshiomogho Atogwe is no stranger to this matchup. He was a member of the 2008 Rams squad that snapped an eight-game losing streak by beating the Redskins 19-17 on the road.
“Any team that you play is going to have talent on any given Sunday, any given Monday,” he said. “You can use that talent to muster up a win. Even in the years in the past, the Redskins may have been a better team than us, but we just played better on that day.”
Once again the Redskins are in similar predicament. They are the superior team and have every right to expect a victory, but that doesn’t mean they can take one for granted.
“There's going to be a lot of teams in this league who are not as good and not as talented that will find ways to win,” Atogwe said.
Coming into the season, the Rams were a trendy pick to win the NFC West, but just three weeks into the season those aspirations are all but a pipe dream. Another loss would send them into a complete tailspin, and so there’s little question they are a desperate team.
“We just need to get a win,” said head coach Steve Spagnuolo. “You can't do anything until you get the first one, so we're trying to find that one."
The stakes are high for one team. They had better be as equally important to the other, or Washington will head into the bye with the critics convinced it’s the same old Skins.
“Not any one game makes or breaks us,” said Atogwe. “But we want to continue to build the momentum of putting wins together and putting quality football together."