After the ninth week of the 2008 season, the Washington Redskins finally experience their bye week.
Considering the team began training camp before any other team and helped kick off both the first preseason and regular season games of the NFL season, this late bye week is welcomed with open arms.
As he gets older, Redskins defensive end Andre Carter understands the importance of the bye week.
How has Andre spent past bye weeks? He has spent time traveling but appreciates the time he is given to rest.
“I went to California for a few days. In the past I do the same thing that I do now… SLEEP,” Carter said.
Relaxation will be very key for this beat up Redskins team. Following a disheartening 23-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home on Monday night, the Redskins can use all the time off that they can get, especially at 6-3.
Will the thought of such a tough loss carry over into the bye week for Andre?
“It will not be hard to forget about this game. We have the remainder if the season to look forward to. Amen to that,” Carter said.
Perhaps what was unforgettable was the sight of an overwhelming number of Steelers fans in attendance at FedEx Field and the fact that they helped play a role in confusing the Redskins offense on their own field.
“I can't say if the crowd did or didn't affect the outcome of the game. Perhaps when our offense was in the field, the crowd noise was loud enough to the point where calls couldn't be communicated. But I might be wrong. When our defense was on the field, I saw a lot yellow towels waving in the air. That was unfortunate,” Carter said.
Never has an opposing team had such a fan presence in the history of FedEx Field. Players on Pittsburgh’s defense were waving their arms in the air as if the game was at Heinz Field. With an array of “Terrible Towels” waving throughout the night, the Redskins players definitely took notice.
“In my whole career I have never seen fans of our opponents outweigh the home crowd. In my mind, I was thinking to myself: ‘What has the world come to?’ It felt like 49% of the fans in our stadium were Steeler fans,” Carter said.
In response to whether he felt like he was playing an away game at times, Carter said: “It's hard to say. The first half of the game, it was Redskins stadium. Then in the second half, I saw a plethora of yellow towels whirling about. Regardless, home is home and we didn't defend our territory the way we should have.”
Despite the crowd and the 23 points that were given up, Carter helped the Redskins defense improve to fourth overall in the NFL in terms of yards allowed per game with 272.1 yards per game.
He had two tackles and tipped a pass that ended up in the arms of Redskins defensive tackles Cornelius Griffin for his first interception since 2005.
The defense played arguably their best half of football all season in the first half against the Steelers, but after Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went down with an injury and was replaced by reserve Byron Leftwich in the second half, things appeared to go downhill from there.
“No matter what the outcome was in the game, we can't make excuses. Yes, we have all those variables that you had mentioned [starting training camp, the preseason, and regular season before anyone else]. There are, however, no excuses when it cones to winning games. The mental can always outweigh the physical. [Defensive Coordinator Greg] Blache has told us that many times. You have to train yourself to overcome different scenarios and fight to the very end. Plain and simple. Yes, we are beat up. However, there are 31 other teams who are hurt just like us. Some more than others. You have to overcome adversity. Pain, a big loss, a starter who is hurt. That's football. That's the NFL,” Carter said in response to whether the defense gradually gave up points because of the long season or the fact that they were on the field for such a large portion of the game.
The Redskins are hoping that the addition of cornerback DeAngelo Hall will aid this banged up defense, especially with a very important matchup with the Dallas Cowboys looming after the bye week.
Under the Helmet:
THN: What was the most enjoyable thing you've done during a bye week (college or pro)?
AC: The most enjoyable thing I have done during a bye week out of my eight-year career was spending time with my family. Those moments are precious.
THN: With Barrack Obama as the new president, what changes would you like to see made for the country?
AC: With Obama as president, I would like to see his bailout plan take into effect in the next few years. Hopefully it will work.