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For Shanahan, First Victory Is a 'First Step'


Final score notwithstanding, the Redskins still have work to do.

So says head coach Mike Shanahan, who made his Redskins debut on Friday night with a convincing 42-17 win over the Buffalo Bills.

The victory provided plenty of highlights and plenty of reason for optimism on both sides of the ball.

The Redskins posted 352 yards of total offense and 140 yards on the ground, converted 12-of-19 third-downs, dominated time of possession by a 36-to-23 minute margin, and posted three turnovers.

Shanahan is a veteran of 25 years in the NFL, though, and he knows not to read too much into a preseason game.

"Our guys are mature enough to understand that this is the first step and we have a long way to go," Shanahan said. "You have to find a way to win a football game. Obviously, we did that and I thought we did some good things during the game. There were some pluses and minuses."

He witnessed players make mistakes, such as missed tackles, missed blocking assignments and lapses in concentration. He was disappointed that the first-team offense seemed out of rhythm on its opening drive.

These things happen.

The key is to make improvements.

"Overall, we still need to improve," Shanahan said. "I thought the first drive we were a little off-balance. We were trying to play a little bit too hard. We should be playing just one play at a time."

In the first offensive series, the Redskins converted one first down but eventually had to punt. In the first defensive series, the Bills moved the ball to the Redskins' 20-yard line before settling for a 38-yard field goal.

"I think in our first drive everyone was really excited to play and we weren't quite in a rhythm on offense and defense," Shanahan said. "We came back and regained our poise on both sides of the ball. We started moving the ball and concentrating a little bit better."

By and large, Shanahan was happy with the team's performance.

In his post-game press conference, he mentioned forcing three turnovers as a key to the victory.

"At three to zip, usually you are going to win football games during the season, so I am pleased in that area," he said.

DeAngelo Hall's first quarter interception set the tone. Hall returned the interception 33 yards to the Bills' 12-yard line.

"DeAngelo has excellent hands and excellent anticipation," Shanahan said. "The quarterback just hesitated a little bit, but DeAngelo is going to make a play. It doesn't take a whole lot because he is going to get there very quickly."

The play set up the Redskins' second touchdown, a 2-yard score by rookie Keiland Williams.

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