ASHBURN, Va. - It has reached the point in the Washington Redskins' tumultuous season where coach Marty Schottenheimer can nit-pick his wins, meaning the Redskins must be doing something right, or at least better than in the first part of the season.
In the 20-10 win Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals, Washington's offense not only didn't commit a turnover, it also got Stephen Davis over the 100-yard rushing mark and enabled quarterback Tony Banks to throw for more than 200 yards, completing passes to nine receivers.
Yet, Schottenheimer, in his weekly post-game news conference, felt the Redskins' 99 penalty yards - including five offensive-holding calls - and their failure to convert field position took a bit of shine off a big win.
"We let opportunities escape us where we should have gotten points," Schottenheimer said. "The nice thing about it is that we played a good, solid football game. We didn't turn the football over. And the nicest part about it is that we did not play at our best, but we still found a way to win the football game."
Even with the imperfect win, the Redskins (6-6) stayed two games behind NFC East-leading Philadelphia, which they play host to Sunday, and a game behind New Orleans and Tampa Bay (7-5) for the sixth and final NFC playoff spot.
"My thought is taking them one day at a time and one week at a time has probably served us reasonably well, and that's the way we should continue to go," Schottenheimer said. "Having said that, I think we all recognize the importance of the one this week."
Against Arizona, the Redskins advanced into Cardinals territory on all but two of their 11 possessions, and past the Cards' 30-yard line on six of those drives, yet only scored two touchdowns and two field goals.
But because the Redskins' special teams kept Arizona bottled up in its territory for most of the day, with the Cardinals beginning two of their 10 possessions at or inside their 20 and four more inside their 10, the offense's miscues didn't hurt.
"We managed to put some things together offensively and defensively, but maybe, as much as anything, it was the performance of our special teams," Schottenheimer said.
"We were able to create excellent field position. That really played a big part in the outcome of the game, because we left a lot of yards on the field and points that we didn't capitalize on in the course of the football game. Had we not been able to play the field-position game, we might have had a different outcome."
Schottenheimer singled out for particular praise the play of free-agent cornerback Kato Serwanga, who made three tackles on special teams and downed a punt at the Arizona 1.
Washington's defense, meanwhile, which was victimized for more than 200 rushing yards in the previous week's loss to Dallas, allowed the Cardinals only 80 rushing yards and kept them out of the end zone until the final 1:16.
Linebacker LaVar Arrington had another spectacular game, with 10 tackles and a key second-quarter interception off a deflection of Arizona receiver David Boston. Arrington ran the interception back 43 yards, setting up Brett Conway's 22-yard field goal at the end of the half to give Washington a 10-3 lead at the break.
"The more I'm around him [Arrington], the more I'm amazed by him. LaVar is amazing," Schottenheimer said.
Schottenheimer said he is looking for improvement from the team's rush defense and looks for it to place more pressure on the quarterback, a rather important skill what with the Eagles' Donovan McNabb coming to town.
NOTES: Schottenheimer said fullback Donnell Bennett (ankle sprain) sustained the only appreciable new injury, but Bennett is expected to play Sunday. Offensive lineman Matt Campbell, who has been out the past three weeks with a knee ailment, may also play Sunday, though Schottenheimer said tight end Stephen Alexander (leg fracture) will likely be on doubtful list.