After weeks of getting torched by numerous big plays a game, the Washington Redskins’ defense did a better job in that department, despite facing an Atlanta Falcons offense that boasted an abundance of weapons. The Redskins still lost, however, and their defensive players were again left wanting.
Washington entered the game allowing just less than four pass plays of 25 yards or more per outing. On Sunday, they gave up a 29-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones, but kept Jones and fellow wideout Roddy White getting loose for any other big gains in the passing game.
But at the same time, the Redskins let the Falcons convert on nine of 17 third-down conversion attempts, and they managed only one sack and three quarterback hits. Matt Ryan had plenty of time to throw, completing 34 of 52 attempts for 345 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while spreading the ball around to nine different receivers. The Redskins forced two turnovers, scoring a touchdown on one of them (the Ryan Kerrigan interception). But the Falcons dominated time of possession (37:01 to 22:59), but managed only 83 rushing yards and were well below their season scoring average of 31 points per game.
“We did some good stuff, but not enough to win the game,” said linebacker London Fletcher, who recorded 20 tackles in the 24-17 loss to the Falcons.
The Redskins in the first half were content to send three and four pass rushers on third downs while dropping additional players into coverage to take away the pass, and Washington did record eight pass breakups.
“For the most part, we did a fairly decent job against an explosive offense like they have,” said safety Madieu Williams. “Things we didn’t do well at the last couple games, we were able to do a good job of staying in front of those guys. [cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall] and Josh [Wilson] did a good job of staying in front of their two biggest threats”
The Redskins, however, had no answer for tight end Tony Gonzalez, who had catches on 13 of 14 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown.
But Ryan led three fourth-quarter scoring drives as the Falcons outscored Washington 17-7 in the final quarter to secure the win.
“It’s tough to hold down a quarterback that many plays,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “But I think our secondary made some good plays on the ball. They’ve got a lot of talent, so those situations, you’ve got to get off the field on third downs or make a play, whether it be in the pass rush or secondary. Sometimes big plays can wash away a lot of sins, but we didn’t have enough today.”