Redskins blitz forced Romo into mistakes


Linebacker Rob Jackson scored a touchdown in the first quarter of the 38-31 loss to the Bengals Sept. 23. (Tony L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Out of both preference and necessity, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, predicates his game plan on blitzing. The Cowboys expected Haslett to send extra pass rushers all night long, and he did – until the play that sealed the game with three minutes remaining.

By late in the fourth quarter, the Redskins’ defense had harassed quarterback Tony Romo all game, including two sacks by linebacker London Fletcher.

“They’re a blitzing defense,” Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett said. “That’s part of what they do. It’s a big part of their defensive package. They just kind of Rolodexed those blitzes through, both in regular and third-down situations.”

Said Romo: “They came after us with some pressures that gave us some troubles. At times, we didn’t handle it as well. Other times, we handled it well.”

With the game on the line, Haslett dialed up yet another blitz. On first-and-10 from the 25, inside linebacker Perry Riley charged up the middle – “a rusher that was going to break our protection,” Romo said. Romo knew he had no choice but to get the ball out of his hand quickly.

He had seen the same blitz before, and it had left the flat open for a pass to DeMarco Murray out of the backfield. He thought he had caught the Redskins leaving a receiver open. Instead, Haslett’s blitzing had set him up.

This time, outside linebacker Rob Jackson did not rush the passer, as he had before. He followed Murray to the flat, and when Romo floated a pass to Murray, Jackson snatched it.

“He peeled off and went with DeMarco,” Romo said. “That was a good play by him.”

It was also a good call by Haslett, set up by the constant pressure he applied throughout the game. While the Redskins sacked Romo only twice, they constantly bullied him into quick decisions.

“It speaks for itself,” Redskins cornerback Richard Crawford said. “He was just throwing the ball away.”

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.

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