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Defensive Numbers Change for Better

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Washington Redskins, 30th in the NFL in total defense for weeks and last in numerous categories for most of the season, saw a modest bump in their rankings after an inspired effort in a 17-13 victory Sunday over Carolina.

The Redskins are 28th in total defense and, after being last in the NFL against the pass, have moved up to 27th. The movement in the rankings isn't as important as the victory, naturally, but to many players on defense, it provided some measure of vindication.

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, the anchor of the run defense when it is playing its best, effectively said after Sunday's win that the Redskins have become the equivalent of a one-punch fighter.

"To get in the trenches and win that fight, that's what we need to be all about," Griffin said.

The Redskins had also given up more long pass plays than any team, but Sunday's defensive effort has lifted them slightly from the bottom. For the first time this season, the Redskins did not yield a pass of more than 20 yards. They still have given up the most passing plays of 20 yards or more.

"We're doing the same thing, just sometimes you don't know when the ball is going to pop out for you," linebacker Marcus Washington said. "It bounces so funny sometimes and [Sunday] we got a couple."

Washington has been one of the players this season who has seen a fair number of interception opportunities come his way without being able to capitalize.

The Redskins' safeties had not intercepted a pass this season, but snared two on Sunday. They are still tied for last in the NFL in interceptions, but over the last two games have three. Before that, they had not intercepted a pass since Oct. 1.

"It's moving parts. I wish I could tell you. I wish I could plug a video card in and say they're going to do it," Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said.

Kudos for Campbell

Getting his first NFL win kept quarterback Jason Campbell awake later than usual, with family and friends calling until well past midnight Sunday.

Campbell completed 11 of 23 passes for 118 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The second touchdown, a 66-yard crossing route to Chris Cooley, wound up being the game-winner. Campbell was statistically better in his debut Nov. 19 at Tampa Bay -- in that game Campbell was 19 for 34 for 196 yards and two touchdowns -- but he was much happier to have a victory.

And for the first time Coach Joe Gibbs seemed enthusiastic about the plays Campbell has shown he has the potential to make.

"For me it felt great just because we played against a good team and a great defense," Campbell said. "And for us to come out on top it gave me a lot of confidence. The main thing was the way my players around me played. They did an outstanding job."

Injury Updates

Redskins linebacker and special teams captain Khary Campbell has a hamstring injury that will likely force him to miss some practice. . . . Defensive end Phillip Daniels said he came out of the Carolina game well, despite a sore left wrist and forearm. Right tackle Jon Jansen has a strained calf. Troy Vincent and David Patten -- both inactive Sunday with hamstring injuries -- have not had a change in status, according to Redskins director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer.

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