THN Weekly with Andre Carter: Week 5
After their thrilling victory over perhaps the best team in the NFL, the Redskins solidified themselves as one of the top teams in the league and tightened up the already competitive NFC East, arguably the best division in football.
The Dallas Cowboys were riding high atop the NFL standings at 3-0 before the Redskins served them a two-point loss in their last regular season matchup at Texas Stadium.
The win came as a surprise to many doubters and opened the eyes of non-believers who felt the Redskins couldn’t compete in the NFC East.
“I don't know why the media never gave us a chance. Regardless, at the end of the day, we played for each other and as one,” said Redskins defensive end Andre Carter, who helped the Redskins defense pressure Dallas quarterback Tony Romo throughout the Redskins 26-24 victory.
The Redskins were led by the outstanding play of quarterback Jason Campbell, wide receiver Santana Moss, and running back Clinton Portis.
Campbell was able to get his first win in Dallas, while Moss caught eight passes for 145 yards and Portis ran 21 times for 121 yards.
Moss exploited Dallas’ secondary with long receptions of 53, 28, 17, 15 and 13 yards while Portis bowled over the defensive line and linebackers like a man on a mission, powering through tacklers and bursting through open holes for his best overall performance of the season. Since his arrival in 2004, the Redskins are 17-3 when Portis rushes for 100 yards or more.
“Portis is in the zone. He crawls and scratches for each yard. In addition, the offensive line is doing a fantastic job opening holes for C. P. It’s working out week-by-week,” Carter said.
The victory earned head coach Jim Zorn a spot in Redskins lore. He will go down as the only Redskins coach to be undefeated in Texas Stadium. Along with winning NFL Coach of the Week honors, he is slowly beginning to understand the true meaning of this Redskins-Cowboys rivalry, which is trying to be pressed upon him by his players. One of the players who understand the intensity of this rivalry is Andre.
“I think I had an understanding of the Redskins and Cowboys rivalry since ‘06 when I first arrived. It’s hardcore. Fans fighting fans; verbal exchanges being made on-and-off the field. You gotta love it,” Carter said.
That intensity will have to carry over this week as they face the Philadelphia Eagles (2-2) at Lincoln Financial Field this Sunday. Sitting at last place in the division, the Eagles could easily be 4-0 if not for their four point losses to the Cowboys and Chicago Bears, both on the road.
“The Eagles have been, and to this day, a great football team despite their record. I respect them and they play hard regardless of the score. All division opponents are tough to play no matter what their record is,” Carter said.
The Redskins scored 26 points against one of the better defenses in the league last Sunday but the offense will have to step it up a notch this week. Having to face a fierce Eagles defense that ranks third in the league in overall defense, leads the league in rush defense, allowing only 53.8 rushing yards per game, and sacks with 17, will be a daunting task for Campbell and his crew.
The offense will not only have to worry about a fast, aggressive, blitz-happy defense, they will have to contend with Philly’s notorious crowd as well.
“The fans in Philly . . . you have to love them. There are a plethora of middle fingers and f-bombs all game. They throw golf balls at our buses as we are driving to the stadium. God bless them,” Carter said.
The defense will also have to face a challenge of another kind in the form of quarterback Donovan McNabb, who has had great success against the Redskins in the past. He has been dealing with a chest injury for the past couple of weeks but it won’t stop him from going all out this weekend.
The Redskins may or may not have to deal with versatile running back Brian Westbrook, whose status for Sunday’s game is up in the air due to an ankle injury that held him out of last week’s loss versus the Bears. Despite the uncertainty, the Redskins defense is still preparing as if he will suit up.
“With Brian Westbrook, you have to assume that he is playing. Never assume that a player is not playing the week of a game. You never know,” Carter said.
The Redskins defense held the Cowboys power running back Marion Barber to only 26 yards on 8 carries, so they know what they’re getting themselves into when it comes to facing productive runners, should they face Westbrook, whose brother Byron is a cornerback on the Redskins practice squad playing the role of Brian on the scout team in practice this week.
“With Barber or with any good running back, you have to be strong on the defensive line and the linebackers fill in the blanks. We tackled pretty good, but we could do better. Eleven players to the ball play-by-play,” Carter said.
The Redskins will once again be without defensive end Jason Taylor, meaning they will rely on a reserve rotation led by veteran Demetric Evans, who started last week in place of Taylor.
“Demetric Evans is a great player. He is not a backup player. He works as a starter and plays a starting role. He did a great job last week. He was physical in the run game and non-stop in his pass rush,” Carter said in regards to Evans’ performance against the Cowboys.
The team may also be without cornerback Shawn Springs against the Eagles. Springs had a very impressive game last week covering Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens, so his absence would be crucial considering this week the secondary will be matched up against rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Jackson has brought a different dynamic to this Eagles team, forcing opposing defenses to focus on more than Westbrook as the heart of the offense. At any given moment, if a defense loses track of him, he can beat them with his speed and ability to catch the long ball while taking it to the house.
The secondary, however, will be aided with surprise seventh round safety Chris Horton, who earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month (for September) and NFL Rookie of the Week (for his interception against the Cowboys). So far, the overachieving rookie has piled up three awards and there are still three quarters of the season left to play.
If the Redskins can pull off a victory against the Eagles this Sunday, it will be a huge achievement and confidence-builder considering who they will have lined up for the next three weeks: St. Louis, Cleveland, and Detroit. But like Dallas just experienced this past Sunday, in the NFL, each team lives by the rule of “any given Sunday,” meaning any NFL team can beat another at any time.
“This win was a great accomplishment, however, it was one game. One game out of 16 is a small margin for what we are trying to reach. Playing in an NFL season is a process. You have to stay grounded despite the wins and losses and stay hungry,” Carter said in regard to Sunday’s victory over the Cowboys.
Under the Helmet:
THN: What is your favorite show on TV right now?
AC: I love the show Entourage. It's classic entertainment.
THN: Where is your favorite vacation spot?
AC: My favorite vacation spot is Maui, Hawaii. It’s fun in the sun and I love the beaches out there.
THN: What is a typical day off like for you?
AC: My errands consist of doing laundry, eating good food and playing Xbox Online. I love Call of Duty 4. I can't stand the gamers who kill me every chance they get.
This article was released on 2008-10-04.
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