DeAngelo Hall makes clutch plays on defense, special teams

deAngelo Hall

DeAngelo Hall caps the Redskins’ win over Dallas by running back an onside kick 43 yards. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall continued his improved play after the Redskins’ bye week, providing two big plays – one on defense and one on special teams – helping them to their 38-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

 With the Cowboys aiming to halt a 21-0 Redskins scoring streak and put points on the board before the first half ended, Hall picked off a Tony Romo pass intended for receiver Cole Beasley with 44 seconds left in the second quarter. Hall returned the interception 27 yards to the Dallas 33-yard line, and positioned the Redskins for a last-second touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III to Santana Moss. The touchdown pass gave Washington a 28-3 lead at halftime.

 With 18 seconds remaining in the game and Dallas trailing 38-31, Hall recovered an onside kick and returned it 43 yards, clinching the victory for Washington.

 “I thought he did a great job,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said of Hall. “Obviously, the onside kick, and the way he played defense. I’m really impressed with the way he played the last couple of weeks.”

 For Hall and the rest of the Redskins’ secondary – plagued much of the first half of the season by inconsistency in pass coverage – the game represented a continuation of improved play after the bye week. It was Hall’s second consecutive game with an interception. He also recorded three tackles and two pass breakups.

 “We just knew we had a chance. Statistically, we had a chance,” Hall said. “The defense had played terrible up until [the bye]. We still gave up a lot of yards [to Dallas], but we kind of went into a preventative type defense in the second half. We probably should’ve stayed more aggressive. But we knew we had a chance to be a good football team at some point. We started off bad, but we’re starting to hone in, starting to pay attention to detail and getting the job done.”

Hall had a chance to score a touchdown on his kick return.  Dan Bailey’s kick, which came after Dallas scored a field goal to pull within a touchdown with 18 seconds left, bounced right to Hall on the front line. Hall scooped up the ball and raced upfield untouched. But, he slid at the 2-yard line to avoid giving the ball back to Dallas with 12 seconds left to play.

 Asked if it was hard to pass up the chance to score a touchdown, Hall said no, and said, “As big of a selfish guy as y’all think I am,” and then laughed. He continued, “Kyle [Shanahan] even joked with me about going in there to score. He wants to be the No. 1 scoring offense. I was always told that the offense closes the game. That’s the best formation, or the best plays, to be able to take a knee. I was surprised I was that wide open. The ball was kind of bouncing and took that one good bounce. Before I knew it, I was at the [two-yard line]. I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ and I took a little baseball slide.”

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