A fast-approaching matchup against New York Giants will determine how well the Washington Redskins can respond to adversity in a short amount of time.
That's the total amount of time the Washington Redskins have to move on from an overtime loss in New Orleans to a primetime Thanksgiving matchup against the New York Giants.
Washington will have three full days of work leading up to Thursday's game, their first of the season against their divisional rival. The Giants, who pulled an overtime upset against the Kansas City Chiefs at home on Sunday, will also have to operate around the quick turnaround.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, following the loss to the Saints, emphasized the importance of players keeping their heads straight during what will surely be fast-paced week of practice.
"It stings everybody involved with the Washington Redskins, that's for sure," Gruden said. "We just have to bounce back. We have a short week. It doesn't get any easier. The Giants are coming to town on Thanksgiving. We have no choice but to keep grinding and keep battling."
The Redskins, who have played five consecutive games against teams with .500 records or better, would be better suited for a bye after Sunday's deflating loss. Washington led by 15 in the fourth quarter before quarterback Drew Brees went 11-for-11 on his next two drives and led his team to a comeback win.
To add insult to injury, the Redskins will face the Giants without their most prolific offensive weapon: running back Chris Thompson. In the third quarter, Thompson went down with a fractured fibula, ending a season in which he led the Redskins in receiving and rushing yards.
Washington will call upon rookie running back Samaje Perine to fill in for Thompson and Rob Kelley, who was injured during Week 10 before being placed on Injured Reserve. Despite a slow start to the season, Perine played the best game of his short career against the Saints, rushing for 117 yards. Meanwhile, New York's defense has allowed an average of 132.7 rushing yards a game, the third worst in the league.
On defense, the Redskins made it out of Sunday's game relatively unscathed. After losing linebackers Will Compton and Mason Foster earlier this season, Washington leaned on outside linebackers Junior Galette and Ryan Kerrigan to shoulder the load alongside the NFL's leading tackler Zach Brown.
Galette said that while the short week will make preparation difficult, it will come with an added benefit.
"I'm actually happy we have a quick turnaround, because this one hurts," he said. "It's going to sting for a while. To get a good win Thursday, I think it's a divisional game, it feels like a one and a half game if we beat a divisional opponent."
While the Philadelphia Eagles continue to fly over the rest of the NFC East, a second-place spot can still be within reach for the Redskins. While the Giants may be out of the race, their 12-9 victory over the Chiefs indicates the team has not given up on the year just yet.
The Giants managed the win without their No. 1 wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who missed the game do to an illness. What's more, tight end Evan Engram, who has often led the team in receptions this year, had just one catch for nine yards. Instead, quarterback Eli Manning spread the ball to 10 different receivers, including Roger Lewis, who recorded a team-high 55 yards.
At 2-8, the damaged but not broken Giants will look to pull another upset against the Redskins at FedExField. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said that while there is pressure to win-out in order to save the season, the team has to look at the next few games from a different perspective.
"There was pressure week one when we were 0-0. There's pressure if you are 8-0," Cousins said. You just go one week at a time. It's so cliché, but it's the best way to operate. Whether we are 4-6, 6-4, 10-0, I would go into the next game with the exact same approach and mental make-up."