In their last three games, the Redskins have faced such challenges as the pass rush of Tampa Bay's Simeon Rice, the receiving skills of Oakland's Jerry Porter and the rushing talents of San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson.
As far as Week 13 is concerned, the Redskins' are facing a test of a different sort. They'll be going up against a team that's very tough to beat at home.
You can bet it will be loud Sunday afternoon when the Redskins face St. Louis in the Edward Jones Dome, where the Rams have been extremely successful since their Super Bowl season of 1999.
Since then, the Rams have the best home record in the NFL at 42-11. Next in line for home wins over that stretch are New England (38-15), Indianapolis (37-15), Denver (38-16) and Minnesota (37-16).
The Rams have crafted an offense that fits playing in the fast track of the Edward Jones Dome. If the Redskins are to break their three-game losing skid, they'll have to find a way to slow down dangerous receivers Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Kevin Curtis.
It was Curtis who took a swing pass from rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and raced 56 yards to produce last week's 33-27 come-from-behind win at Houston.
"All of their receivers are tough," said Redskins rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers, who came up with his first NFL interception in last week's frustrating 23-17 loss to San Diego at FedExField. "They run good routes, and they have an offensive scheme to get them in great position. I know they're good, quick and fast. But you have to find a way to defend them. We have our hands full this week."
Joe Vitt, running the show in St. Louis while Mike Martz deals with health issues, doesn't know if the Rams should be referred to as "The Greatest Show on Turf" any longer. But Vitt is sure he has some weapons.
As he puts it: "I don't know what the perception is. I'm not concerned about the perception. We're just looking to win a football game here.
"It is an explosive offense. The system dictates that. You have explosive wide receivers in Kevin, Issac and Torry. Those three can run and catch with anyone. If you ask anyone in the league to defend those guys, they would have to consider them explosive."
St. Louis running back Steven Jackson (192 carries, 845 yards, seven TDs) has been averaging 4.4 yards per carry and kicker Jeff Wilkins has missed just two of 20 field goal attempts.
The goal, of course, will be for the Redskins to take the St. Louis crowd out of the game as much as possible. That means getting an early lead and stifling the high-powered Rams offense.
At the same time, let the record show that in recent seasons, the Redskins have done especially well in dome games:
- In a Monday Night matchup on Nov. 20, 2000, they knocked off St. Louis, the defending Super Bowl champs, 33-20. Playing in what was then called the Trans World Dome, Jeff George threw for three TDs, Bruce Smith had three sacks and Scott Bentley recovered his own onsides kick.
- The following year, on Week 16, the Redskins beat up on New Orleans 40-10 in the Louisiana Superdome. Stephen Davis rumbled for 111 yards in three quarters of work.
- In a Week 2 contest back in 2003, the Redskins outscored Atlanta 33-31 in the Georgia Dome, sparked by Jessie Armstead's sack on Falcons quarterback Doug Johnson.
- Last season, on Nov. 7, Washington used a blocked punt and a TD pass by Clinton Portis to get past Detroit 17-10 in Ford Field.
That list does not mention the Redskins' last trip to the Edward Jones Dome, in preseason 2004, when the Rams handled the Redskins 28-3. That game made an impression on head coach Joe Gibbs, who talked at length about it during his Wednesday media session.
Looking ahead to Sunday's battle of 5-6 teams, Mark Brunell said the key for the Redskins may come down once again to making plays in the fourth quarter.
Adds Brunell: "Last week we had some critical third downs that we were unable to convert. That's where you have to play your best football. The teams in those close games that play their best football, making those third downs and big plays to keep the chains moving, those are the teams that are going to win. We just haven't been that team lately."