The Redskins open their season against NFC East rival New York Giants this Sunday looking to end a trend that has followed them for what feels like an eternity.
The Giants have had the Redskins number the past five seasons, winning nine of the last 10 games between the two teams, including the last six in a row.
Their success against the Redskins has been aided by a strong running game and a defense that has forced turnovers.
Last season, the Redskins lost twice against the Giants by a combined score of 48-21.
In the first game, on Dec. 12 at New Meadowlands Stadium, running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for 197 rushing yards and four touchdowns. The Giants defense recovered four fumbles and intercepted two Donovan McNabb passes.
The second of the two games was the Redskins season finale at FedExField. New York's running backs combined for only 82 rushing yards and one touchdown, but the defense proved yet again to be stifling, recovering three fumbles and one interception. Surprisingly the Redskins had a chance to win late in the game but fell short 17-14.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is very aware of the recent struggles against the Giants.
"Any time you've lost nine out of 10, hopefully you can do something about it," Shanahan said. "Not only have they beat us, but they've beat us by an average of 13 or 14 points over those games so they've dominated us through the years. Hopefully, we can put an end to that. We just have to finish games and we have to play better."
The 2009 season followed a similar storyline to the 2010 season. The Giants beat the Redskins by a combined score of 68-29 and their ground game totaled 217 yards and two touchdowns in those wins. In the second matchup in late December, turnovers proved to be the Redskins' Achilles heel, as quarterback Jason Campbell threw three interceptions at home in a 45-12 defeat.
Redskins players aren't the only ones aware of this recent dominance.
"We just have their number right now and hopefully that continues," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "I definitely feel that the Redskins are a team on the rise, though. You can see that they are hungry to get back to the prominence of old time Redskins football."
Former Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield is now the Redskins nose tackle and had some insight on the Giants' recent success.
"I think the biggest thing we did when I was there was we approached it like it was a big game," said Cofield. "There were a lot of rumors going around that the Giants treated the Redskins like a bye game and that they were so confident, but that wasn't the case. We attacked it and gave this team our proper respect, went out there and played hard, and we were able to get the wins."
In 2008 the Redskins lost both games by a combined score of 39-14. The Giants continued to effectively run the ball, racking up 262 yards and two touchdowns.
The 2007 season was the last time the Redskins registered a win against the Giants. After losing the first game at home 24-17, the Redskins beat the Giants on their home field. The Giants rushed for 139 yards, but the Redskins were able to beat them at their own game. The Redskins racked up 153 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and recovered a Giants fumble. They went on to win 22-10.
Given the Giants success year after year running the ball, players understand that stopping the run is the key to having a chance against the Giants.
Cofield said "Defensively we have to stop the run. That's the key to their team. They feed off the energy of their running backs. If we can make them one-dimensional and get to Eli [Manning] that's the best chance we have."
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander echoed the same strategy.
"I was here for the only one of those wins and I remember every single loss," Alexander recalled. "If we can stop their run game from the defensive side of the ball and if we're able to run the ball on them and control the tempo, and not get ourselves in third and long on offense, then I think we'll be fine."
Despite the recent struggles against the Giants, the Redskins believe that they can win on Sunday.
"We are a running team and we are built to stop the run, so if we do those two things well, we have a chance to win," Cofield said.