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Warm Welcome Follows Redskins, Who Are Gaining Attention With Victories

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ARLINGTON, Texas – When the Washington Redskins’ buses pulled into Redskins Park in Ashburn around 1:30 early Friday morning, a group of approximately 50 to 75 fans was waiting outside the gates to welcome the team home from a 38-31 Thanksgiving victory at Dallas.

Shanahan

For the first time in four years, the people had something to cheer about in late November. The victory salvaged the season for the Redskins, who improved to 5-6 after winning their second game in five days.

It also means that for the first time with Mike Shanahan as its head coach, Washington will play a truly meaningful game in December.

“You want to play your best football in the second half of the season, but it takes a total team effort,” Shanahan said Friday, speaking on a conference call. “I thought our guys have stepped up the past couple weeks with our backs against the wall, and hopefully we continue to do that.”

Should the New York Giants lose to Green Bay on Sunday, they will begin preparing for a Monday night meeting with Washington at FedEx Field on Dec. 3 with first place in the NFC East on the line.

It’s a far cry from even a week ago when the Redskins, at 3-6 after their bye week, appeared headed for another bleak finish to the season. A rejuvenated offense and a sufficient defense have changed the team’s fortunes, and though the emotion of the victory was still fresh for the players after the game, several spoke with an additional belief that they belong.

“It’s just a great feeling playing like we know how we play,” running back Alfred Morris said. “We have the weapons to play like this all the time. The whole season we could have been playing this way, but better sooner rather than later.”

With their five victories, the Redskins have already won more games this season than they did in 2011. They’ve also scored 295 points – seven more than last season, even with five games remaining.

“I like where we’re at,” Shanahan said. “I like our football team. It’s where we’re at now. Our players are working. It’s not a finished product by no means, but we’re on the right track and we’re going in the right direction.

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