Victory has its rewards.
Redskins players enjoyed an extra day off on Monday courtesy of head coach Mike Shanahan. It gave them a little extra time to savor that 13-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night and a bit of respite from the grind ahead.
There's not a player who doesn't love Victory Monday or hearing a heartening "See you Wednesday" from the boss.
Shanahan, however, did not indulge himself in down time. Not even after a night game at a raucous FedExField and a long commute home.
"I got home kind of late and got here kind of early, evaluating the game film and kind of getting ready for Houston. It is a little different. Got about an hour and a half, two-ride home. It kind of felt like an away game," Shanahan said.
While the Redskins won the most important battle with the Cowboys – the one on the scoreboard – they struggled in other areas, primarily on offense.
First, the running game. The Redskins rushed for only 89 yards and 35 of those came on two attempts. Back them out of the equation and the team ran 21 times for 54 yards.
Of course the big plays count but there's a need for more consistency. Some of it came in the second half, when the Redskins rushed for 60 yards.
"You want to wear football teams down. You do wear them down when you run from sideline to sideline," Shanahan said.
A little more juice in the running game would only help the offense stay on the field.
The Redskins converted just three of 13 third downs, punted on six of their nine possessions and botched a field goal attempt.
The offense spent less than 26 minutes on the field, which means the defense got a disproportionate chunk of playing time.
"I was hoping we'd do a better job scoring in the red zone. When you get your opportunities first and goal from the 5-yard line against a team like that, you want to score. Another time we were inside the 10, second and six, and all of a sudden with two drives you come away with three points and you feel fortunate to win the game," Shanahan said.
Fortune smiles on those who persevere.
Shanahan pointed to DeAngelo Hall's forced fumble and return for a touchdown on the final play of the first half and Brian Orakpo's unceasing pass-rushing style that drew a holding call on the last play, wiping away what would have been a game-winning touchdown pass for the Cowboys.
"It showed me that guys are willing to play for 60 minutes and if you do that you give yourself a chance to win," he said. "You take a look at the last play of the first half and the last play of the game and that's what separates teams."
When the Redskins return to practice Wednesday, they'll turn their full attention to a potent Texans team that knocked off the Indianapolis Colts 34-24. The Texans had previously lost 15 of 16 games to the Colts. They've never made the playoffs since joining the NFL as an expansion team in 2002.
They're also the former employer of Kyle Shanahan, who was offensive coordinator there last season and holds that same position with the Redskins now.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak played for Mike Shanahan in Denver and others on the staff are well-known to him, as he is to them.
"I'm not sure there are any advantages there," he said.
NOTES: Shanahan said he alternated Kory Lichtensteiger with Derrick Dockery at left guard to get Lichtensteiger some game experience but Dockery remains the starter. Right tackle Jammal Brown was frequently spelled by Stephon Heyer but for a different reason. "I didn't feel like Jammal was in a position to play a whole game. He just didn't have enough reps throughout the preseason and I wanted to get him in better shape," Shanahan said. Brown was with the New Orleans Saints last year but missed the season due to a hip injury and a sports hernia. … Shanahan said defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, who had one solo tackle and one assist, "played hard. He's getting more comfortable with the 3-4 scheme."