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Need to Know: The Redskins’ five most important games in 2015

Sep 9, 2015, 5:37 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 9, four days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

The five most important games on the Redskins schedule

The Redskins are unlikely to be competing for playoff spot this year (although you never know). But there are still some important games on their schedule. Looking at it just a few days before things get underway, here are what could be the five pivotal games in 2015.

Week 2 vs. Rams—St. Louis came to FedEx Field last December and manhandled the Redskins 24-0. Shaun Hill, a 35-year-old journeyman QB put up a 133 rating on them and the Rams defense sacked Redskins quarterbacks seven times. Oh, and coach Jeff Fisher trolled them by making the game captains the players they drafted with the picks from the RG3 trade. If they are not much more competitive this time around there could be very early calls for Jay Gruden to be replaced.

Week 5 @ Falcons—Like the Redskins, the Falcons are trying to work their way back to respectability. This will be a tough road test for Washington. There are plenty of familiar faces in Atlanta with Chris Chester starting at guard, Tyler Polumbus and Leonard Hankerson as backups, and Raheem Morris coaching the secondary and Kyle Shanahan serving as the offensive coordinator. Losing is bad enough; losing to a bunch of familiar faces would not go over well.

Week 7 vs. Bucs—This game is important for two reasons. First, the Bucs, who had the worst record in the NFL last year, came in to FedEx Field last November and thumped the home team 27-7. Josh McCown passed for 288 yards and rookie Mike Evans caught two touchdown passes. If the Redskins are indeed a better team they need to have a better showing against the Bucs, who are still among the league’s worst teams. And this is the last game before the bye and two weeks of general discontent on the airways and in the blogosphere might be too much to bear.

Week 12 vs. Giants—The Redskins had a tough time in the division last year, winning just two games. This is only a little earlier than that but it will only be their third division matchup. New York should be a cut above the Redskins this year but not so much better that the Redskins don’t have a legitimate shot of winning a home game against them.

Week 15 vs. Bills—The 2015 Redskins want to be pretty much what the 2014 Bills were, a team that utilized the running game and strong defense to have a respectable record despite spotty play from the quarterback position. Now that Rex Ryan is the coach in Buffalo there will be even more emphasis on defense and “ground and pound” running. It will be interesting to see if the Redskins can beat what they hope is a mirror image of themselves.


Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice (approx. 1:30)

—It’s been 255 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 4 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 15; Eagles @ Redskins 25

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  1. colorofmyskinz - Sep 9, 2015 at 5:58 AM

    I agree with Rams game. I would have to add Miami. First game after the tough QB decision. SNYDER will place extreme pressure on Gruden every possible chance to fight this anti-RGIII climate. First chance SNYDER can take to rub the QB switch in his face he will.

    I have zero belief Gruden will last through the end of this year.

    Par for the course for SNYDER to be looking to replace the HC, just as he did the 7 prior. The highest turnover rate with HC in the history of the NFL right here in DC over the last 15 years….


    • berniebernard666 - Sep 9, 2015 at 8:19 AM

      unless Gruden has changed up his offense and stops bunching his receivers into the same area on the field, the Redskins will win 2 games and pick first next spring.

  2. Skulb - Sep 9, 2015 at 6:06 AM

    “two weeks of general discontent on the airways”

    Oh that would never happen in DC Tandler. I mean really!

  3. hk2000 - Sep 9, 2015 at 6:44 AM

    Snyder may have been wrong on many of the previous coach firings, but in this case I would be all for it. as for rubbing it in his face, Snyder won’t be the only one,a large number of the fan base will be doing the same and rightly so.

  4. hk2000 - Sep 9, 2015 at 6:48 AM

    I agree on the first 4 in the list, I don’t know about the Bills game though, I think the first game against the Dolphins is by far the most important game of the year.

  5. bangkokben - Sep 9, 2015 at 7:30 AM

    Last year’s win at Dallas led by Colt McCoy was NOT week 16. I want to say week 8 or 9 but who cares where in the schedule, since you have to play them all. It was, however, the third NFC East opponent and moving forward, the ‘skins will need to win a division game before the third division game – which is week 12 this year.

  6. sullivandeezoldeezol67 - Sep 9, 2015 at 8:12 AM


    Absolutely correct! Rich Tandler forgot that the Skins beat the Cowboys on MNF. The win against the Eagles (week 16) was the SECOND NFC East win of the season.

  7. berniebernard666 - Sep 9, 2015 at 8:16 AM

    if you want an eye opening experience go back and watch Jay Grudens offense last year and then watch Chip Kelly. Here is why Philly scores so much and the Redskins offense can’t move.

    Chip Kelly spreads his receivers out across the field and runs a lot of crossing patterns. He runs a crossing pattern into the middle of the field almost every play. Jay Gruden runs his receivers toward the sidelines, and in many if not most cases his receivers end up bunched together within 5 yards of each other. Now what happens when receivers are close together is this: Defensive backs are also there in a bunch.

    Jay Gruden is an idiot offensive coordinator. I can sit here on my couch and notice this and yet he seems lost.

    • wvredskins - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:24 AM

      Jay Gruden is not an idiot offense coordinator and you are an idiot if you think so. My god he is brilliant at running the west coast offense and not all of his pass plays go towards the sidelines. That is nonsense! He has alot of crossing patterns as do every NFL team does. Its not his offense that is the problem. It was the QB who was running the offense and he has the best QB that can run his offense in Kirk Cousins. Kirk is in his 2nd season in the offense and I can guarantee you will see a major improvement PERIOD. Im not saying Kirk is the answer but if he can cut down on the turnovers you will be talking in a different tone!

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 9, 2015 at 1:52 PM

        I disagree that Gruden is brilliant at running the west coast. There was sot a single QB that started last season was effective running his system but in maybe a few games. Okay so assuming it takes time there is still other factors that suggest otherwise. Cincinnati had no issues losing him and the fans there welcomed his departure. He developed a reputation there of being unable to take a talent laden offense to the next level. He was regarded as over using the passing game (slinging it out) and under using a very good running game. With all the talent he had in the running game, the running team ranked better among the top half teams in rushing during the time he was OC there.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 9, 2015 at 2:05 PM

          Sorry about that mess of a response.

          Edited Version…

          I disagree that Gruden is brilliant at running the west coast. There was not a single QB that started last season that was effective running his system but in maybe a few games. Okay so assuming it takes time for Cousins to pick it up; there is still other factors that suggest otherwise. Cincinnati had no issues losing him and the fans there welcomed his departure. He developed a reputation there of being unable to take a talent laden offense to the next level. He was regarded as over using the passing game (slinging it out) and under using a very good running game. During the time he was OC there, the rushing attack never ranked in the top half of all NFL teams rushing the ball.

          However, I did like watching Cousins level of comfort and grasp of the offense that was on display in preseason. I hope you’re right about Cousins makes major improvements. I’m a bit skeptical at this point since preseason performances are often not translated to the regular season.

      • Metler - Sep 9, 2015 at 6:08 PM

        Thank you. Took all the words right out of my mouth

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 9, 2015 at 8:21 PM

      I think it’s going a little too far to say Gruden is an idiot offensive coordinator. But I’m totally fine in say he isn’t a brilliant one. But a good point was made, just not clearly. Chip Kelly’s offense and Jay’s offense are two completely different systems. They’re supposed to look different. Chip runs more of a spread college style that he tailored to the NFL and, it seems, he did so successfully. Gruden is running his version of the west coast. I don’t think anyone needs me to get into the specific differences of these systems. I would, however, just like to point out that bunch formations can be a great tool to use. But I don’t know if you meant that you don’t like when they’re bunched together on the line or if you don’t like it because they seem to bunch together after the snap. But starting in a bunch and then separating can confuse defenders and open up some passing plays. I remember an article I read this summer (I think from football outsiders but I’m not positive) that showed we had a lot more success when we lined receivers up in a bunch formation.

      My only real point is that just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s better or worse. Chip Kelly runs his offense well but I think Gruden can run his offense well if he gets a QB who can execute it. I agree that it’s stupid to just stick to a system and not adapt to your players, but that might be a different discussion. I can’t comment on how Cinci fans felt when Gruden left because I wasn’t paying attention to them at all. But I think you can do a lot worse at OC than Jay Gruden.

  8. redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 9, 2015 at 8:52 AM

    I don’t really view any games at this point as more important over any other. The bar is set low for this team in terms of wins this season. No one is expecting a division win or even a playoff game out of this group. If this team shocks the world and puts together some wins that could change. However, what is important for me right now are the games within the game:
    — Right Side Clyde – The performance and growth during the season on the right side of the offense line. There is not much there to replace either Schreff or Moses at their respective positions, so I think the coaching staff is going with them for the long haul.

    — QB Triangle – There needs to be a stable position at quarterback and not another QB carousel. Cousins’ performance in full games against a starting unit is the key. The team can’t afford Cousins being charitable by giving the defense bunches of interceptions and easy points. There are just too many real life examples and statistics out there showing him to be a costly turnover machine and none worst than the one that has his interception percentage index rating only rivaled by Ryan Leaf.

    Cousins needs to be moving the offense and putting points on the board while limiting his turnovers. He’s a smart guy and certainly can run an offense when comfortable. He just needs to stay focused and not self destruct on his own turnovers.

    — Under Pressure – The defensive line needs to play like a top ten group. It’s the only way I can see mitigating a still glaring weakness with coverage and tackling from our secondary. Scot’s reputation with this team really begins here. The new guys that arrived as free agents have to play at a very high level or we’ll struggle to keep points off the board and the opponents QB rating will continue to soar.

    — I’ve got you covered – Who is the team going to have covering punts and kickoffs? Will the group avoid another historical low in that area this season.

    — Star in the making – Is Matt Jones the next great Redskins back? It’s way to early to call but he’ll be a player I look forward watching on this team. He has demonstrated he can be a threat on every down and his shiftiness is scary for a guy his size. If the line can get him to the second level then it’ll result in huge chunks of yards. The running game overall has the ability to really wear down defenses he Jones can show the same threat he was in preseason.

    • wvredskins - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:36 AM

      Great post and I agree with Matt Jones but I will add one player to that list — Star in the Making- Jamison Crowder. He is really impressive and I think he can be an immediate contributor if giving the opportunity. He is really quick and very shifty in space. I really hope they put him as punt returner and the 1st depth chart for this week is not official with Andre Roberts returning punts. Time will tell.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 9, 2015 at 1:55 PM

        I wanted to include Crowder but his hammy issues have me wondering if it’ll take more time for him to take off. As you I really hope he can upgrade the return game for the team.

      • lorcanbonda - Sep 10, 2015 at 9:37 AM

        Jamison Crowder will need a lot more seasoning than Matt Jones. He’s a great athlete, but that is not enough in this league. If he was going to make a quick mark, it will be as a punt returner and he’s not even listed as our punt returner.

        I honestly think that Crowder is our sixth best receiver. He doesn’t have the discipline to move past Grant or Ross on the depth chart. Until then, he’s a raw talent.

  9. timwillhidetimwillhide - Sep 9, 2015 at 8:54 AM

    I would say the first 5 games are the most important. If we have a rough putting the first 5 games the rest of the season is gonna be a struggle and people will be calling for the Coach and QB although it may not be the QBs fault.
    6 of our first 7 games are against some pretty good Defensive fronts. The Oline will be tested early and often. Could be a Loooooong season.

    • sidepull - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:27 AM

      Agreed. That was my inclination, the first 5 games. We need a gauge, some type of indication of the direction they are moving , progress, regress, or static. Injuries will also be a key factor. We have some good players but they do get nicked up. Yup first 5 games. Suh right out of the gate. Might as well take a smack in the mouth to get the season started right? Hopefully they will give one back.

  10. timwillhidetimwillhide - Sep 9, 2015 at 8:59 AM

    “The Redskins are unlikely to be competing for playoff spot this year (although you never know)”

    Rich we do know the Redskins will be winning the Division and Hosting a Wild Card game. At least according to the Redskins who are Charging Season Ticket Holders for those tickets now Due 9/11/2015. That’s what the invoice on my account was about lol

  11. realfan82 - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:30 AM

    actually we beat dallas earlier than week 16

  12. abanig - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:38 AM

    The 4 diction games and week 1

  13. celeoinc - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:40 AM

    This team has talent. Please stop making excuses for coaches. Most of our rejects if not all od them from last year earned a roster spot this year in the NFL. Many of them will be starting. It is very easy to say that we have a long way to go. The problem is coaching and I not saying only Head Coach. I hope the coaching will be better this season, if not, we are going to continue to be the joke of the NFL. The entire National media is picking the Skins to be the worst team in the NFL this year. There is no way we are the worst, and if they are, everybody needs to be fired!

  14. warpath1 - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    last 5 games. How will they play when the season is lost.

    • warpath1 - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:47 AM

      not wishing for that like some non-redskin fans, just being realistic. Will they quit playing hard when facing a losing season?

      • sidepull - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:32 AM

        What was it I heard “Fail for Cardale?” Thought that was funny but the Colts might have really done that to get Luck. Who knows. I think under Scot, if you dont show up and play hard you wont be here.

        • warpath1 - Sep 9, 2015 at 12:34 PM

          i hate the thought of losing on purpose

        • kenlinkins - Sep 9, 2015 at 4:30 PM

          I am not sold on Cardale Jones yet. Right now he is a One Read & Run QB. If he can continue to develop this year I would be all over him. Remember, he only had a few starts so far so there is a ton of room to get better (or get worst).

    • Mungman - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:14 AM

      And this season is already lost?

  15. Mungman - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    These Washington football team is a joke. Odds they miss the playoffs,
    75-1. Brutal

  16. wannabeahog - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:05 AM

    It seems like his group has a we can play with anyone attitude. I think the first two games are the key. If they are handled by the Dolphins and the Rams, will they sink to a here we go again attitude as we saw in the last few years.

  17. wannabeahog - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:07 AM


  18. wvredskins - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:53 AM

    Coach this and Coach that. My god people Jay Gruden is not the problem. Yeah that is what we need to do is fire a coach who hasnt even started his 2nd season on a 5 year deal. IMO Gruden made mistakes last year and that is evident, but he was a rookie head coach. Give the man a chance before calling for a change in coach. I dont care if Belichick was the head coach last year, he would not have had a winning season with the cards he would have been dealt period! I think Gruden should atleast get 3 years before even considering getting rid of him UNLESS he shows no improvements this year which I think he will. I really think the offense will be good this year if Cousins can minimize the turnovers. At the end of the day, the way things have transpired this offseason with him naming RG3 as the starting QB but really the whole time he was having a competition was brilliant. He kept the media off his back asking questions every chance they got and most importantly he gave RG every chance to take the job and run with it but obviously he saw something in Cousins that he couldnt turn his head too. I say good for him for being his own man and making a tough decision in naming Cousins the starter because how can you tell that locker room that the best player will play and give the job to a under performing QB because of his name and relations with the owner. I like Gruden and hopefully he shows improvements because at the end of the day Snyder is impatient and wants results.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 9, 2015 at 2:30 PM

      With a guaranteed 5 year contract, I think a minimum of 3 years as head coach makes sense.

    • warpath1 - Sep 9, 2015 at 3:24 PM

      finally the voice of reason.

    • celeoinc - Sep 9, 2015 at 4:10 PM

      I agree, but he has to show improvement. I don’t think we have to have anything set on stone. I am not asking for them to make the playoffs. I am asking for improvement. Right now the entire national media is picking us to be the worst team in the league. I believe we are much better than that, but if all these so called experts are right then we need to move on. Improvement is paramount for any coach in the NFL and it should not be any different for Gruden. Give me a 6-10 and I am all for to keep Gruden.

  19. timwillhidetimwillhide - Sep 9, 2015 at 12:53 PM

    The Top 2 most important games for me is Dallas and Dallas. We win these games it will take some sting off of a bad season

    • ET - Sep 9, 2015 at 2:49 PM

      Well, yes. We all want Dallas crushed. Twice would be amazing. I’d be happy to split with our divisional foes, however.

  20. redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 9, 2015 at 2:27 PM

    “Redskins coach Jay Gruden said they’re still awaiting the written results of Robert Griffin III’s concussion tests. Gruden said they have been told the results but he wanted to wait until they have the results in writing before announcing.” –Keim

    Hmmm! That read is very familiar to the statement I made about the organization’s lack of competence in not waiting on the written results before clearing players from concussions.

  21. redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 9, 2015 at 2:28 PM

    Trent Williams was voted captain of the offense. It doesn’t appear to be a ringing endorsement for Cousins after being announced starting QB for 2015. Trent is among the longest tenured of all redskin players so I can see some rationale in the choice.

    • ET - Sep 9, 2015 at 2:53 PM

      Why does it need to be a QB? QBs get enough attention as it is (particularly in DC).

      It’s great that a lineman was chosen captain. Trent is certainly worthy of the honor.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 9, 2015 at 4:06 PM

        Typically you expect a QB to at least be a co captain. Look at the list below and it’s apparent a veteran starting QB is a odds on choice for captain. However it understandable that Trent go the vote. I would have hoped the team would have at least included Cousins.

        Arizona Cardinals – Carson Palmer
        Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan, Roddy White
        Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco
        Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton, Ryan Kalil, Greg Olsen
        Cincinnati Bengals – Andrew Whitworth, Andy Dalton
        Cleveland Browns – Joe Thomas
        Dallas Cowboys – Tony Romo, Jason Witten
        Denver Broncos – Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas
        Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb
        Houston Texans – Arian Foster
        Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck
        Jacksonville Jaguars – Marcedes Lewis
        Kansas City Chiefs – Jamaal Charles, Alex Smith
        Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill

        • bangkokben - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:02 PM

          You’ve got to be nuts to think that Cousins would’ve been named captain. I doubt the “veteran,” Tyrod Taylor was named captain. Cousins is captain next year if this year is a success. Like Robert was in 2013 and the 2nd half of 2012 – a move the coach and president implemented; not the majority owner.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Sep 10, 2015 at 3:27 AM

          Pretty sure the Players voted RG3 as Captain

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Sep 10, 2015 at 7:11 AM

          RG3 was voted captain as a rookie just like Tim stated. If the players wanted to show support behind Cousins, it’s hardly nuts to name him at least a co captain.

        • bangkokben - Sep 10, 2015 at 3:56 PM

          Trent was voted captian, Griffin’s rookie year. Then Shanahan held a second voting half way through the season for additional captains in which Griff was voted captain. Cousins has been named starter for less than a month. Anytime your QB is tenuous, he isn’t voted captain.

      • timwillhidetimwillhide - Sep 10, 2015 at 12:00 AM

        Was RG3 a Captain? You should only expect the same for Cousins as him

  22. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Sep 9, 2015 at 3:40 PM

    To me there are six most important games every year: our two each with the Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles.

  23. celeoinc - Sep 9, 2015 at 4:40 PM

    One more picking the Skins to be last. This time PFT (NBC)

    32. Washington (0-0): Glass half full outlook? Securing the first overall pick will eliminate all temptation to trade up for the next potential franchise quarterback.

    Are we that bad? I doubt it.

  24. goback2rfk - Sep 9, 2015 at 4:54 PM

    Why not RG3 as the captain. He will be back at the helm soon enough.
    Trent is great one of my favorite players on the team if not my favorite player. Loved it when he smacked Sherman in the face after the playoff game. Definitely one of our best players but needs to pick it up a little bit this year. Last was not the best year for Trent. All in all, Trents side of the line is not the part to worry about.
    Suh and Wake are going to blow up the Skins O-Line like the Fourth of July. I think Cousins will have about 15 dump off passes this game.
    Season starts tomorrow! httr!

  25. kenlinkins - Sep 9, 2015 at 5:46 PM

    This is going to sound a bit nuts, but the Redskins could be sitting at 7-3 or even 8-2 after the first 10 games. If the Defense can just play better in general terms (i.e. Pass Rush show up, get turn overs, keep the top on with better tackling) the only team I see as over matched are New England, with Philly and Carolina being tuff and the Redskins losing to one (if not both). So if the Redskins are sitting at 7-3 or 8-2, how many Redskins fans would take that right now? I would as it would mean that the Redskins are solid and on the right track and the HC didn’t blow winnable games. The Redskins SHOULD be able to play with / beat the Dolphins, Rams, Giants, Falcons, Jets, Buc’s, and Saints. So, that is going to be my measuring stick. Where are the Redskins after 10 games. How many wins, how many close games before injury’s hit and the last 3 of 4 games are on the road. IMO the Redskins have about a 35% chance at 8-2 and a 60% shot at 7-3. If I am correct and the Redskins then fall off a cliff and end up 8-8 or 9-7 missing the play offs, I wonder how many fans will call for the coach to be fired instead of looking forward to the 2016 draft? IMO it is more about the defense not losing games in 2015 then the QB (whoever is running the offense) winning games.

    • bangkokben - Sep 9, 2015 at 10:14 PM

      Ken, pass the Kool-aid. The Dolphins with their hurry-up offense and the Redskins not getting their running game going yet, could get ugly. At the same time. If Cousins reads and reacts super quick, we could surprise them with a competitive game. As for the other teams, I was saying that stuff all off season. Soon we will see but I suspect that we will take our growing pains during the “light” stretch of our schedule. Seven wins this year equaling the last two years combined, still fourth in the division and still folks calling for a coaching change. We could excel these expectations if one of our division rivals is surprisingly sorry. I predict the wheels to fall off the Cowboys bus – but I’m a hater and predict that most every year.

      • kenlinkins - Sep 10, 2015 at 9:35 AM

        I also wonder why so many Redskins fans dismiss the lack of success running the ball on 1st & 2nd down in the preseason.

        • bangkokben - Sep 10, 2015 at 4:00 PM

          Simple answer: they are looking at Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, and Trey Williams against the second and third teams. If we were looking at just 1st down runs in the 1st quarter of the preseason games, we would be horrified at the numbers.

  26. Trey Gregory - Sep 9, 2015 at 8:12 PM

    I love this list. A couple points I didn’t even think of (like the Atlant game). I would just add either game between Dallas and Philly. Because, even if we are terrible, if they beat Dallas and Philly at least once, most fans are happy. But I especially agree with the Rams. Because of the trolling and just because they took us to the house on that trade. Also because of the shutout last year.

  27. lorcanbonda - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:11 PM

    The most important five games are the first five games. It is really that simple.

  28. Johnny B. - Sep 9, 2015 at 9:13 PM

    The one thing that all of these people that do the rankings and predictions for the games forgot to take into consideration is that Cousins scores. At least 2 td every game he started. Yes he had a lot of int. 1int. in two different games 2 in 1 and 3 in 2 games. In the 2 really bad games we were playing catch up because of our secondary. A good run game with a better defense should be enough to get Cousins away from the stress of being behind. Also Gruden will stay with the run game longer in which means less passing less int. Combine it all together and you get 8/8 or 9/7 win record. Just remember that our defense cost us about 4 games last year.

  29. skinsgame - Sep 9, 2015 at 11:11 PM

    Calling the Dolphins game anything but a toss up is just silly. Suh and Co get negated with a quick pass game and open up the run. If they can get pressure on Tannehill, this game could easily go to Washington. 23-16 Skins. Archives

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