Rousing Redskins defense aims to ground high-flying Falcons

Da’Ron Payne of the Washington Redskins reacts after sacking Eli Manning. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

LANDOVER, Md. – It’s the toughest test of the season for the renewed Redskins defense – a unit ranked among the top five in the NFL in nearly every metric.

Sunday, the Redskins (5-and-2) host the Atlanta Falcons (3-and-4) in search of their fourth straight victory. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. at FedEx Field. News 3, Hampton Roads’ home of the Redskins, will have live pregame and postgame coverage of the game.

Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Falcons enter Sunday with the No. 7 ranked offense in the NFL, gaining an average of 401.0 yards per game. Quarterback Matt Ryan is off to a quick start for the Falcons, going 187-for-263 for 2,335 yards, 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Ryan currently owns a career high in completion percentage and the second highest passer rating of his career.

Tuesday, the burgundy and gold bolstered its defense by trading for Pro Bowl safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The former Alabama standout is expected to play Sunday vs. Atlanta. However, the Redskins will be without offensive standouts Trent Williams (thumb), Chris Thompson (rib) and Jamison Crowder (ankle).

Head coach Jay Gruden of the Washington Redskins talks with quarterback Alex Smith. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)

The Redskins hold a one-and-a-half game lead over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East and enter the game with a 5-and-1 record against NFC opponents. With a win, Washington will have their best record through the first seven games of the season against NFC opponents since the 1991 campaign. In addition, with a win, Washington will move to a 6-and-2 record for the first time since 2008.

Sunday’s matchup between the Redskins and Falcons is the 26th all-time meeting between the two franchises dating back to their first meeting on Oct. 9, 1966. The Redskins hold a 15-9-1 record against Atlanta all-time, including a 14-9-1 record in regular season contests.

A win on Sunday would snap a five-game losing streak against Atlanta for the Redskins. A win would be Washington’s first against Atlanta since Sept. 14, 2003, a 33-31 win at the Georgia Dome. Included below are the 25 all-time games contested between the Redskins and Falcons (with the Redskins’ result).

  • 10/9/1966 vs. Atlanta 33-20 W
  • 10/15/1967 at Atlanta 20-20
  • 11/23/1969 vs. Atlanta 27-20 W
  • 11/20/1972 vs. Atlanta 24-13 W
  • 12/7/1975 at Atlanta 30-27 W
  • 9/25/1977 vs. Atlanta 10-6 W
  • 12/10/1978 at Atlanta 20-17 L
  • 9/30/1979 at Atlanta 16-7 W
  • 11/30/1980 at Atlanta 10-6 L
  • 12/4/1983 vs. Atlanta 37-21 W
  • 11/5/1984 vs. Atlanta 27-14 W
  • 11/3/1985 at Atlanta 44-10 W
  • 9/20/1987 at Atlanta 21-20 L
  • 12/17/1989 at Atlanta 31-30 W
  • 11/10/1991 vs. Atlanta 56-17 W
  • 1/4/1992** vs. Atlanta 24-7 W
  • 9/13/1992 vs. Atlanta 24-17 W
  • 12/19/1993 vs. Atlanta 30-17 W
  • 9/25/1994 vs. Atlanta 27-20 L
  • 9/14/2003 at Atlanta 33-31 W
  • 12/3/2006 vs. Atlanta 24-14 L
  • 11/8/2009 at Atlanta 31-17 L
  • 10/7/2012 vs. Atlanta 24-17 L
  • 12/15/2013 at Atlanta 27-26 L
  • 10/11/2015 at Atlanta 25-19 (OT) L
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