If there is one battle any team can't afford to lose, it's the turnover battle.
So far in 2013, the Washington Redskins have lost that battle and it shows in their 0-3 start.
Last season, the Redskins were among the best at ball security, setting a franchise-low with a stellar 14 turnovers.
During the seven-game winning streak that catapulted the team to an unexpected division title, the turnover margin was plus-10.
Three games into 2013 and the Redskins have already turned it over six times.
Against the Detroit Lions, the Redskins had two costly turnovers deep in Lions territory. The two mistakes contributed to the difference between the first win of the season and the franchise's worst start since 2001.
"Turnovers are going to kill you every time," wide receiver Santana Moss said. "You can't expect to lose the turnover battle and win.
"Every coach I've ever played for [has] preached that and every time you see the outcome of the game all you have to see is the turnover battle. Whatever team turnovers the most, that's the team that loses."
In Week 1, running back Alfred Morris uncharacteristically fumbled the ball twice—on his first two carries. The first fumble resulted in an ensuing Philadelphia Eagles touchdown.
The second, which appeared to be miscommunication between he and quarterback Robert Griffin III, was pounced on in the end zone for a safety.
Last week against the Green Bay Packers, the offense had difficulty moving the football throughout the first half. On the fifth drive however, it appeared the Redskins had finally gotten into a groove and marched deep into Green Bay territory.
That's where the Redskins' good fortunes ended.
On 4th-and-5 on the Packers' 29-yard line, Griffin III was intercepted after a pass deflected by receiver Joshua Morgan floated in the air, eventually landing in the hands of the defense.
In Week 3, the turnover that proved most costly and turned the tide of the game was Griffin III's headfirst dive that was ruled a fumble early in the fourth quarter.
Attempting to keep his body out of harm's way, Griffin III's momentum left him no choice but to go in with his head opposed to the traditional feet-first slide.
"I was declaring myself down to avoid the big hit coming from the safety that's coming from the middle," Griffin III said. "Knee down, elbow down, but that's the rule."
Turnovers aren't the only miscues that the Redskins have been plagued with. In three games, they have been flagged 13 times for 198 yards.
Mistakes like that thwart the hard-fought momentum the Redskins have gained.
"It definitely makes it more frustrating," linebacker London Fletcher said when asked about the unnecessary yardage given up. "Because if you look at the way the ball game went, Detroit did some good things but I think we made too many mistakes for ourselves and we really beat ourselves whether it is penalties or turnovers."
Fletcher along with fellow inside linebacker Perry Riley Jr. were called for penalties on back-to-back third downs in the first quarter. The two penalties kept the Lions' drive alive.
The drive resulted in the Lions first touchdown of the day just three plays later.
The defense, however, hasn't been the only unit to see laundry.
Against Green Bay, the Redskins had four special teams penalties that hindered the battle for field position.
"We have to eliminate some of those mistakes in the football game," head coach Mike Shanahan said. "We had the opportunity to do it and get it done, but you can't make those mistakes that we made and expect to win. We have to play cleaner and be more consistent."
Still, this team has the talent to dig itself out of an early rut if they clean up their execution and remain disciplined.
"We know what we're capable of doing we just have to eliminate the mistakes," Fletcher said. "We're going to worry about winning the next football game and we're not going to get caught up in stuff down the road.
"Right now we're just trying to go to Oakland and get a win."