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For Redskins' Defense, A Giant Task to Stop Run Game



For the Redskins' defense, keeping an opposing running back to less than 100 yards rushing is a goal every Sunday.

They'll certainly be tested in that regard this week, with Brandon Jacobs and the New York Giants coming in for an NFC East visit at FedExField.

When the Redskins faced the Giants in the NFL regular season opener on Sept. 4, Jacobs ran for 116 yards in helping New York to a 16-7 win.

In the following weeks, the Redskins did a solid job slowing the likes of Reggie Bush, Edgerrin James and Jamal Lewis.

Not until the past two weeks has Washington yielded 100 yards to an opponent.

Marion Barber of Dallas (114) and Maurice Morris of Seattle (103) both reached the century mark against Greg Blache's defense.

Blache was upset this week that, in the Redskins' last five quarters of play--one against Dallas and four against Seattle--the defense has yielded nearly 200 yards of rushing.

Blache acknowledges that stopping the run needs to be a priority on Week 13 against the Giants' running back by council of Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw.

"The biggest thing in this game is that we have to bull up and play physical," he said. "The most physical team is going to win. We have the No. 1 rushing team in the league coming in, so there is a huge challenge right in front of us."

He added: "It's going to be a matter of will. Mind over matter."

Last week at Arizona, the Giants defeated the Cardinals 37-29 despite being without Jacobs, who had a knee injury. And Bradshaw missed most the game with a neck injury.

Ward took the bulk of the carries, 20, and responded with 69 yards.

As of Thursday, it was an open question as to whether the Giants would have Jacobs or Bradshaw available for Sunday. Wide receiver Plaxico Burress, slowed by a hamstring injury, was in the same category.

The Redskins have injury problems of their own to worry about.

Their chief run stoppers--including middle linebacker London Fletcher and defensive tackle Kedric Golston--are on the mend. Fletcher had 17 stops in the Week 1 game against the Giants.

Jacobs, the 6-4, 264-pound bulldozer of a back, is the key to the Giants' running attack, of course.

Blache says he has all the tools.

"Jacobs has size, he has the weight, he has good vision and he has strength," Blache maintains. "He has breakaway speed if you let him get in the secondary. He can take it the distance. His speed has been underestimated because people just talk about his size and brutality.

"He's unique, because he could be as big as some of our ends or linebackers. We just have to keep him from getting started. We have to get physical with him."

For the season, Jacobs has compiled 879 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns and a 5.4 yards-per-carry average. Ward is next with 600 yards and two touchdowns. Bradshaw has 310 yards and one touchdown, with a gaudy 6.3 yards-per-carry average.

In the Week 1 game at the Meadowlands, Jacobs did most his damage against the Redskins in the first half, getting 74 of his 116 yards in the first 30 minutes.

The Redskins went into that game thinking they had to deal primarily with Burress, who finished with 10 catches for 133 yards.

This time around, Washington's secondary is healthy and should be in better position to stop Burress, should he play.

And if Burress can't go on Sunday, Blache may be in a spot where he can commit even more of his players to keying on Jacobs.

"We have to stop the run by being disciplined, being in the right spots with the proper leverage," Blache said.

Added Anthony Montgomery: "We played gap control defense [in the first Redskins-Giants game] and everybody had to make sure they maintained their gaps and didn't lose outside leverage. We have to work hard at maintaining our leverage against them because they really get off the ball fast on the run."

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