Redskins.com breaks down some of the key matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Giants game at the Meadowlands.
"Redskins-Giants: 4 Keys to the Game" is presented by Papa John's.
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Jason Campbell vs. Giants Pass Rush
Campbell, like most quarterbacks, has struggled when under pressure. He faces a challenge against a Giants defensive line that is among the best in the league.
Last year, the Giants posted 42 sacks, sixth-most in the NFL. With the return of Osi Umenyiora, the team's sack leader from the previous four seasons, the Giants look to regain its 2007 form when it led the league with 53 quarterback sacks.
Campbell was sacked 38 times last year and five times by the Giants. Obviously, pass protection is at a premium on Sunday, but even with good protection Campbell may not have time to wait for third and fourth receivers to get open.
Campbell will need to be decisive when targeting receivers--and use his mobility to escape pressure when needed.
Redskins' Run Defense vs. Brandon Jacobs
The Redskins finished the 2008 season with the NFL's eighth best run defense, allowing 95.4 yards per game on the ground.
In two games last year, the Giants averaged 131 rushing yards against the Redskins, with the 6-4, 264-pound Jacobs leading the way. Jacobs had 187 rushing yards against the Redskins last year and averaged 4.4 yards per carry.
The addition of Albert Haynesworth, the 6-6 and 350 pound defensive tackle, is expected to fortify the Redskins' defensive line, particularly against a back the size of Jacobs.
The Redskins' goal is to swarm Jacobs whenever he has the ball. Defenders must slow him down at first contact and, as Kedric Golston said, "hope that your buddies come and help you out."
Redskins Kick Coverage vs. Ahmad Bradshaw
Washington has consistently been among the best in the NFL at kick coverage. Last year, the Redskins allowed opponents an average starting field position of the 25.7-yard line, sixth-best in the league.
The unit had some key losses last offseason with the departure of special teams stalwarts Khary Campbell and James Thrash, but it's hoped that veterans Rock Cartwright and Mike Sellers and second-year players Justin Tryon and Kareem Moore step up.
Bradshaw was not among the league leaders, but his speed presents a challenge for the Redskins. Last year, he returned 39 kickoffs for a 22.2-yard average, with a long of 58.
Stephon Heyer vs. Justin Tuck
First play of the 2008 season, and Tuck barreled past Heyer for a sack. A year later, Heyer is back at right tackle and matched up against Tuck, who finished with 12 sacks last season.
Heyer hopes to get off to a stronger start in 2009. He has another year of experience under his belt and coaches believe his long arms help him in pass protection.
Tuck has emerged as one of the game's best defensive linemen. He has 22 sacks the last two years. In his last four games against the Redskins, he has posted 4.5 sacks, including two in a Nov. 30, 2008 contest at FedExField.