Redskins rebound puts them in first place

Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (91) sacks Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY SportsPhoto Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Jay Gruden: “They came in and mentally they were on point.”

Two weeks after an abysmal showing on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints, the Washington Redskins find themselves atop the NFC East.

The Redskins have put together back-to-back home wins over the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys following a 43-19 loss at New Orleans.

“I think anytime you get beat like that and play like we did as a group, the entire group, I think it just made a little, paid a little bit more to their preparation, it has to be on point,” head coach Jay Gruden said on Monday. “They came in and mentally they were on point.”

Especially on defense. One week after stopping the Panthers on downs in the fourth quarter to preserve a 23-17 win, the Redskins defenders cooled off Dak Prescott and the Cowboys 20-17 after kicked Brett Maher hit the upright from 52 yards out as time expired.

Washington held running back Ezekiel Elliott to 33 yards on 13 carries.

“I think it starts upfront in the trenches,” Gruden said of stopping the run. “Those big guys are doing a great job, the front four or five depending on the personnel grouping, are doing excellent. At the line of scrimmage, that starts there. Being physical at the line of scrimmage and then the linebackers are finishing things off along with the safeties.”

The Redskins also sacked Prescott four times.

Adrian Peterson rushed for 99 yards Sunday and Alex Smith completed 14 of 25 passes for 178 yards and one touchdown. It was Smith’s third straight game with a completion percentage under 60 percent and his percentage has decreased in each of the last four games.

“I don’t know. I think we talk about all that stuff; we’re not getting into any fundamental issues here,” Gruden said during Monday’s press conference. “But, he’s missed some throws uncharacteristically, for sure. Some of it is he’s felt a little pressure, hasn’t gotten his feet set from time to time. But, he has made some great throws under duress.”

The Redskins now face another division foe, the 1-6 New York Giants, on Sunday.

Gruden said he takes no comfort from being in first place as the midpoint of the season approaches.

“I told our guys, ‘that’s the only mentality we can have in this league because everybody’s got good players, good coaches and you start looking ahead and start thinking of some other things; you’re going to get beat.’ ” Gruden said. “Each game counts for the same one game and it’s another division game for us, another rivalry game, on the road so we’ve got to get up.”

–RB Adrian Peterson rushed for 99 yards on 24 carries against the Cowboys, including a 23-yarder. He’s rushed for 196 yards in his past two games.

–RB Kapri Bibbs led the Redskins with four catches Sunday against the Cowboys, including a 23-yard touchdown catch-and-run on a screen pass. Bibbs also ran twice for 13 yards.

–WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) missed his second straight game Sunday and remains day-to-day.

–RB Chris Thompson (knee) missed his second straight game Sunday and remains day-to-day.

–WR Paul Richardson (knee/shoulder) missed Sunday’s game against the Cowboys and is day-to-day.