THN Weekly with Andre Carter - Week 2
Redskins and Cowboys fans alike were treated to yet another instant classic in the NFL’s most storied rivalry to open the 2010 season.
After the Redskins had held a lead all game, fans watched as Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo tossed the game-tying touchdown to receiver Roy Williams, who was wide open in the near corner of the endzone.
The Cowboys celebrated. Their fans celebrated. But only after the flag of destiny was thrown. Then the realization of a Redskins victory became crystal clear.
Cowboys tackle Alex Barron, a former first round pick who was acquired from the St. Louis Rams over the summer, had accumulated his third holding penalty (Dallas’ 12th penalty overall) and cost his team the victory by unsuccessfully keeping Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo at bay with an arm wrap.
Thus the result was Redskins fans rejoicing throughout the nation, basking in the victory over their hated rival and also in the fact that they were on the right end of a call that under normal circumstances would not have gone their way.
“Wins in the NFL aren't easy. I will take the victory regardless of the circumstances,” linebacker Andre Carter said.
In situations such as the final drive of the game and the drives following the Redskins botched field goal attempt, Carter says that they didn’t make the Redskins deter their focus as a team.
“We held our composure and were optimistic in the game. Negative thoughts create a negative performance. We stuck together and won the game,” he said.
A last-second home victory against a division rival who many project to be Super Bowl contenders to start the year reinforces the team’s positive mindset going into the second week.
“Regardless of who you play in the season opener, the first game is always the hardest,” Carter said. “So much adrenaline is pumping and all you want to do is win. We were fortunate to win Sunday night.”
The adrenaline rush was helped in part by a raucous FedEx Field crowd, who Carter credits with helping the team get to 1-0.
“The louder the fans, the better. The offensive linemen couldn't hear the audible checks and Romo had to scream his butt off to make certain calls. Our defense feeds off the crowd. It's an enjoyable experience.”
Two of the biggest factors on the field were cornerback DeAngelo Hall and safety LaRon Landry. Hall provided solid pass coverage as well as Washington’s only touchdown to end the first half while Landry was all over the field with his sights set on anyone wearing blue and silver and holding the football, logging a career-high and league-leading 17 tackles.
“This scheme is a fit for them,” Carter said. “LaRon is a wild man on the field. He's a heat-seeking missile ready to explode on the field. D-Hall is looking for the ball each time it's in the air. Both of them are playmakers.”
Hall gave FedEx Field a jolt of energy when he stripped the ball from Dallas running back Tashard Choice’s hands and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown to end the first half.
That play was reminiscent of former Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington’s interception return against the Carolina Panthers in 2001. That play saved the 2001 season after an 0-5 start and was made on the exact same sideline as well.
Carter, in the process of tackling Choice when Hall stripped the ball, had one thing on his mind when the play truly developed.
“Score, score, score!! Take it to the house, homie.”
That play catapulted the team’s momentum and perhaps aside from the holding penalty at the end of regulation, saved the game.
Whether someone views this game as being “barely a win” or just brought on by a stroke of luck, an opening victory was necessary to build confidence to face an opponent with just as much offensive firepower as the Cowboys.
The Houston Texans are coming off of arguably the biggest win in the franchise’s short history, knocking off the AFC South powerhouse Indianapolis Colts at home with a 34-24 trouncing, led by running back Arian Foster’s eye-opening performance.
Foster may have been nothing more than a secondary fantasy football option coming into last Sunday but after rushing for 231 yards and three touchdowns, he now has the league’s full attention.
“He is an elusive player with a great motor and [is] a playmaker. [From] watching him on the field, he's one of those players you can tell is hungry and wants to win,” Carter said.
One of the most important things to watch this week will be how the defense matches up against a normally pass-happy Houston offense after a predominantly run-oriented performance against the Colts. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub produced an uncharacteristically low 107 passing yards in Week 1 after tossing a league-high 4,770 yards under the tutelage of current Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan last season.
Having the younger Shanahan leading the Redskins offense certainly helps the team because of his familiarity with Houston’s talent and schemes. His insight will certainly be a key in how the defense performs on Sunday.
“It's great to have Kyle on our team. We will have an interesting perspective on the offensive mindset of the Texans. However, Houston knows that so as a defense we need to be prepared for anything,” Carter said.
Another strange statistic coming out of Houston this past week was Andre Johnson’s uncharacteristic 33-yard performance. One of the biggest playmakers in the league, Johnson led the NFL in receiving yards last season as well.
Johnson’s most recent showing will certainly not determine how the Redskins scheme for him.
“If you are a 4-3 defense or a 3-4, Andre Johnson is someone that needs to be taken seriously. If you underestimate him, he can embarrass you,” Carter said.
Carter also says the defense has to be disciplined and force the Texans to be one dimensional since they will come to FedEx Field with a strong aerial attack and a newly defined running game.
“[It will require] four quarters of playing a physical defense. Tackling is going to be a big emphasis this game. It's important that wherever the ball is ran, 11 men on the field need to sprint to the ball. Lord willing we can make them one dimensional and rush the passer,” Carter said.
Carter believes, much like in any game, the winner will be decided by turnovers.
“Turnovers are always the factor in every game. The more turnovers on our side of the ball, the better. It creates an opportunity for us to score on defense or place our offense in a position to score.”
tribeofjudah: AC, up to this point of your career, if you were to retire, would you retire as a Redskin or a Niner?
AC: Redskins all the way. There is so much history here. I'm honored to be a part of it.
tribeofjudah: In your opinion, who was/is the best defensive player to come out of Cal?
AC: The best player to ever come out of Cal would be Hardy Nickerson. 16 years in the league playing at a high level.
ATX_skins: How much does Orakpo really bench?
AC: I really don't know. He's strong as an ox. Pure Texas bred.
This article was released on 2010-09-16.
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