Since their disappointing performance with the Giants two months ago, the Redskins feel like they've gotten better in multiple areas and are hoping to use their home field as an advantage in their rematch this Sunday.
For as much as cornerback Will Blackmon -- and the rest of the Redskins -- would like to forget about what happened at MetLife Stadium in late September, he knows the importance in remembering what exactly went wrong, and what's been going wrong against the Giants in their last five matchups.
"They just came out and literally blew us off the ball, they threw the ball over the top," Blackmon said. "They came in all three phases and just dominated us."
In truth, reflecting on the 32-21 loss to New York in Week 3, and the rematch that will take place at FedExField this Sunday, Redskins players and coaches kept repeating one refrain: physicality.
"Overall I think it's just a matter of us playing up to their level of physicality," head coach Jay Gruden said. "I feel like they've 'out-physicaled' us the last three times, number one, and it's something we have to make sure that we're ready for."
That game saw quarterback Eli Manning throw for 279 yards and two touchdowns, rarely get flustered in the pocket and watched his defense force two interceptions and a fumble, pitting the Redskins in an early hole that they couldn't escape.
But a lot has changed for the Redskins over the last two months. For one, they're much healthier in the secondary, which has seen some lineup changes – most significantly Jeron Johnson taking over for Trenton Robinson at strong safety and DeAngelo Hall (who got injured in Week 3) ceding the starting cornerback spot to Bashaud Breeland.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins has also grown more confident, cutting down his mistakes in the pocket. Since that two-interception Thursday night game, he also gained a helpful deep threat receiver in DeSean Jackson, who returned against the Patriots three weeks ago and has begun to find his stride with a touchdown last week vs. Carolina.
"We felt like that game got away from us early," Cousins said. "It kind of changed our approach. I think we kind of had to scrap much of our game plan because we got into a two-minute mode for much of the second half. Again, a lot of it goes back to turnovers and penalties and some of the same mistakes that are going to hurt you in any of the games that you play and any of our losses this year."
And then there is maybe the biggest difference this game provides, which is that it takes place at home.
Compared to being winless on the road, the Redskins are 4-1 in FedExField and have played better in just about every category, too.
At home, Cousins has thrown 10 touchdowns to two interceptions while on the road he's thrown for five scores and eight interceptions. On the ground, the Redskins are averaging 145.8 yards per game at home vs. 44.8 on the road. They've also given up 162 points to opponents on the road through five games compared to 91 at home.
"It's important that now, we just get these division games," Blackmon said. "That's the guaranteed ticket to the playoffs is winning your division. Right now, they always say one game at a time. Our next game is a huge game, a chance to tie for first place. Home or away it's a division opponent and that's what's important."
Regardless of the changes, with a division opponent comes much familiarity.
"I can remember the things that we saw Week 3 when we played them," running back Chris Thompson said. "That familiarity has helped us out a whole lot. I'm able to see some of their looks right now and be like 'Ok, this is how we blocked it, this is what we ran when we saw these looks.' So just remembering what helped us then and what didn't help us so much."
Defensive lineman Jason Hatcher believes the defensive line has also improved greatly since last seeing New York, but schematics, while necessary, won't likely determine the outcome of his performance.
That's where the physicality returns.
"They've done a good job of beating us and being more physical," defensive lineman Chris Baker said. "So it's very important for us to come out here, swinging faster to get a win and hold on to a division lead."
"It's a common opponent but in this conference alone, it's a physical conference," Blackmon said. "It's not even about the X's and O's. You know the person, you know your schemes, you know what you're going to do. It's more about lining up and truly taking care of your guy, your man."
Coaches in practice this week have already lead by example, demanding better execution and imbuing a greater sense of urgency to what Gruden calls a one-game season this Sunday. At this point, the Redskins know their opponent, they just need to show it.
"They do a great job – their coaching staff – in getting them ready physically, and that's the one thing we've got to do a good job of with our team this year," Gruden said. "Be ready to match their physicality from snap one to snap 70 and keep it going."