ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden doesn’t know who the New York Giants plan to rest for Sunday’s critical regular-season finale at FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon.
It doesn’t matter to him if New York quarterback Eli Manning plays a quarter, a half or an entire game. The Redskins need a win to earn the final NFC wild-card berth.
“You only dress 46 guys, right? They’re going to have to play somebody,” Gruden said Monday. “They’re (10-5) because they not only have good starters, they have good depth. Whoever they put out there, they’re going to have good players and they’re going to compete and try to win the game. We have to get ourselves ready to go.”
Washington is just happy its postseason hopes are still alive.
Whether the Redskins control their own fate and needs only a win against New York to secure a playoff spot or whether they need help from the Detroit in its matchup with against Green Bay on Sunday night is immaterial.
The Redskins (8-6-1) have a chance, and that’s all they can ask at this point.
“It’s going to be a huge game. Our backs are against the wall,” wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. “They’ve kind of been against the wall for the past couple of weeks.”
The Redskins rebounded from a devastating home loss to Carolina on Dec. 19 that left them behind Green Bay and Tampa Bay for the final NFC playoff berth. Washington trounced the Chicago Bears 41-21 on Saturday and then watched the Buccaneers (8-7) lose to New Orleans. The team plane erupted in cheers when that game went final, but there is work left to do.
“The most important thing is we just have to win against New York,” safety Will Blackmon said.
The Redskins already own a win against the Giants, who are locked into the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs and have little to play for Sunday. Washington walked away from New York with a 29-27 victory on Sept. 25 to avoid an 0-3 start that probably would have buried their postseason hopes in September.
Washington has posted back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1996-97, but is still seeking consecutive playoff berths for the first time since 1991-92.
But simply having a winning season would ring hollow.
The Redskins have lost three games by five points or less (two against Dallas and another at Detroit) and tied a game against Cincinnati in London where a 34-yard field goal in overtime would have won it. If any one of those results had gone differently, Washington wouldn’t be in this predicament.
“We obviously wouldn’t think of it as a successful season unless we get in the playoffs,” Gruden said. “That’s our goal coming into the season. We went to the playoffs a year ago, and had every intention of trying to win the division and go back to the playoffs.
“Anytime you don’t make the playoffs — regardless of your record — it’s a little bit of a disappointment. We have a good team, we have good players, and we feel like we should be in there.”
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