Redskins hoping history repeats

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins find themselves in a familiar spot, one that launched a seven-game win streak a year ago. They were 3-6 then. They're 3-6 now.

But they know this quite well: Just because they reeled off seven straight wins last season doesn't mean they're going do it again. However, they also want to -- need to -- feel like it's possible again.

They enter this stretch off an ugly loss at Minnesota, one in which they blew a 13-point third-quarter lead. They entered last year's winning streak off three straight losses, including an ugly home defeat to Carolina.

"I'm not sure we had the confidence then," Redskins safety Reed Doughty said. "The only confidence you can get is from winning games. People want to talk about getting on a streak, but you've got to play better, you've got to play consistently and you've got to start by winning one game."

Last season the Redskins trailed the first-place New York Giants by 1½ games. Dallas was 4-5; Philadelphia was 3-6. The Giants collapsed; the Redskins got hot and they became the third team since 1990 to go from 3-6 to the playoffs.

This year they trail Philadelphia and Dallas by 11/2 games and have four division games left, starting with Sunday's game against the Eagles.

"Yes, we feel 100 percent capable that we can go on a run like we did last year," receiver Pierre Garcon said. "[But] we need more than one game to get our season turned around."

But even though the Redskins aren't far off the division lead, it doesn't matter if they keep losing. Sort of tough to contend if that's the case.

"We can talk about everybody else, but the bottom line is we have to play a lot better," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "We can't make it to the playoffs and expect to do anything in the playoffs playing the way we've been playing. You want to start playing good football. You want to start having things go the right way.

"That's how it was last year. We were 3-6, but things started going the right way so we felt like we had a chance, felt like Seattle's coming in here [in the playoffs] and we had a chance, felt like after that we had a chance to beat Atlanta."

Washington excelled at turnover differential during its seven-game streak and throughout the season. The Redskins ended up plus-17 and were plus-10 after the first nine games. They're even this season but have already turned the ball over 16 times, two more than last season (and seven more times than at this time in 2012).

They feel if they can flip that around, they'll have a chance to at least play well. They also had a quarterback in Robert Griffin III who was making big plays consistently and taking care of the ball better than in 2013, when he was coming off knee surgery

"Last year I believe we felt a lot worse," linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. "That Panthers game before the bye was an ugly game and this time ... it was disappointing but we've been so close in so many games. We have to finish games. We know we're not far off."

Playing in the NFC East helps keep their hope alive.

"The division is still up for grabs," Hall said. "How do we fix it? I don't know. Like I keep saying, there's no magic formula to take or special pill we can pop to run some wins off. It's about executing, getting down to the fundamentals and doing things we've done since we were little kids to be successful. That's what we have to get back to and what we have to hang our hat on to win games."

In the past, a 3-6 record in the NFC East would have meant a team needed to abandon any hope. In the past 10 years, the division winner has averaged 11.1 wins. It'll be tough to see any of these teams reach that figure (the last three winners have won 10, 9 and 10, respectively).

"It's a little difficult to hear people talk about this division being bad because it's been so good over the past couple years," Hall said. "It's normally not as bad as it's been the last two years. Definitely still got a chance; a lot of things have to happen."

The first thing that has to happen is win. But they're in this position because that's been so difficult to achieve. The Redskins play four games against teams that don't have a losing record, but only two (6-3 San Francisco and 9-0 Kansas City) who have winning records. At this point last season they had two games against teams with winning records and five against teams with sub-.500 marks.

"One win gives you confidence," Doughty said. "We felt good coming off Chicago and we had our chances last week. But you start getting on a roll of two or three and you start looking down the stretch of a season and things start feeling a lot better. But we have to get one win to get back in it.

"We've known for a while we control our destiny. Starting 0-3 and winning a few games and looking at all that and saying we have a shot, well, you have to win games you're supposed to win and you're going to have to win some games you're not supposed to win at this point."