It’s not pretty but the Redskins are somehow getting it done. Considering how the 2009 season developed, fans may not like how the Redskins are winning but with the team having matched its win total from last year in just seven games this year, they can not be picky at the end result.
The Redskins have won three of their last four games with their latest victory coming on the road against the Chicago Bears, another solid NFC opponent.
“Winning is never easy on the away games,” linebacker Andre Carter said. “This win was important because it was an NFC opponent. The more wins you stack up within your conference, the more opportunity we have to make a playoff run.”
Clearly the standout player from that huge victory in the Windy City was DeAngelo Hall, who picked off Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on four occasions and even took a spectacular one-handed grab 92 yards to the house. With those four interceptions, Hall tied an NFL record, held by only 18 other players, including Redskins legend Sammy Baugh.
“The most interceptions I have seen an individual have is two so I was honored to be a part of history. My reaction was simple: ‘Way to go get ‘em,’” Carter said.
Another key cog on the defense was Albert Haynesworth, who had his best game as a Redskin according to Head Coach Mike Shanahan. This past Sunday was the first game Haynesworth played in since the tragic passing of his younger half-brother. After sitting out the previous game against Indianapolis, “Big Al” was only used in specific packages against the Bears. It paid off, as shown by his lunge over the Bears’ offensive line on a key goal line stand and his show of force by manhandling former first round pick Chris Williams and pushing him backwards into Cutler for a sack.
So what was it that was motivating Haynesworth?
“It could be a lot of scenarios from not playing the previous week to the passing of his brother. Every individual has a certain way for being in the zone and making big plays. I was happy to see Albert perform the way he did,” Carter said.
With their first NFC North roadtrip out of the way, the team will complete its second on Halloween at Ford Field against the Detroit Lions, who currently sit at last place in their division with a deceiving 1-5 record. Detroit has played above and beyond what they have in the past and the Redskins are well aware of it.
“If you analyze their losses, they were shy of only a few points. So despite their record, they are still a good team. It's important that we don't underestimate them this Sunday,” Carter said.
As everyone remembers, the Redskins suffered an embarrassing defeat against the Lions early last year because it ended Detroit’s 19-game losing streak.
While most of the roster from last year is gone, many of the current players have that game in the back of their mind but Carter says the team should be motivated regardless of whether they won that 2009 matchup or not.
“I think it's important to have a solid performance regardless of who you play,” he said. “We are constantly motivated. Yes, it was a terrible loss against Detroit… last year. 2010 is a new and improved year for us as well as for the Lions. May the best team win.”
The Redskins are looking to be a solid 5-3 heading into their bye week. To do that, the defense will have to contain yet another offense with a variety of weapons, this time led by wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who has a team-best five touchdowns and 437 yards. The Lions also have agile running back Jahvid Best returning from a turf toe injury and quarterback Matthew Stafford, who led the upset victory over the Redskins last year, making his return after suffering a separated shoulder against the Chicago Bears in Week 1.
“[We have] the same goal week in and week out: stop the run first,” Carter said. “Best, a Cal grad, is making moves and proving he can be a tough back within his division as well as the league. He's strong and evasive and is having a great rookie season so far. [We have to] disrupt the passing game by [getting] sacks or getting Stafford off his rhythm. Calvin Johnson is an athletic player and is the go-to guy in their offensive scheme so we need to have a great game plan for him.”
How Stafford bounces back from his injury will be a big key to the game.
“I think he has a lot to prove,” Carter said. “With injuries sustained in the beginning of the season, he will be eager to move the ball and make plays.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions have ferocious defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who already has an impressive 22 tackles and 4.5 sacks at that position as a rookie.
“Suh is a dominant player on the field. With a big man who is young and energetic, it’s going to be a game where the offensive line can't let up or else he will take advantage of the opportunity to create big plays,” Carter said.
Deadskins: Andre, it appeared the Skins went with a lot of 4-3 looks on Sunday. Is Coach Haslett backing off the 3-4 a little bit and do you think this helps your personal game?
AC: We try to mix it up depending on who we play. We have a variety of packages that keeps our opponents guessing on who's on and off the field.
TeeterSalad: Does it bother you or the rest of the defense to be called the worst in the league simply for giving up the most yards or do you ignore that label knowing that this defense has caused more turnovers and allowed less points than "better" defenses?
AC: It does leave a bad taste in your mouth, however, the only way to eliminate that is making plays on defense, which we have done. However, we still need to play more gap-sound football more consistently and then we will be in business.