One Play Tips the Scales
Monday, September 22, 2008
As the ball hung in the air early in the fourth quarter yesterday at FedEx Field, Washington Redskins cornerbacks Leigh Torrence and Carlos Rogers were drawn together in the moment.
Torrence closed well in a two-man sprint against Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Steve Breaston and tipped quarterback Kurt Warner's pass high, leading to Rogers's key interception and long return that helped set up the go-ahead score in Washington's 24-17 victory in front of 90,060.
"Those were two big game-changing plays right there," free safety LaRon Landry said. "We talk a lot about getting turnovers and getting the ball back to the offense in a good spot to do something with it. When two guys step up on one play like that, you can't ask for anything better."
Two plays after the Torrence-Rogers combination energized the Redskins and their fans, quarterback Jason Campbell threw a short screen pass to wide receiver Santana Moss, who maneuvered through Arizona's defense for a 17-yard touchdown. Moss's touchdown tied a team record -- he has at least one scoring catch in five consecutive games, six including a playoff loss to Seattle -- and gave Washington's defense the lead it was eager to preserve.
With defensive ends Jason Taylor and Andre Carter applying pressure to the end, the Cardinals ran seven offensive plays in the game's final 12 minutes. Overall, Taylor deflected three of Warner's passes at the line of scrimmage.
Struggling rookie punter Durant Brooks performed better this week, with a 42-yard net average and improved hang time on four punts, but his lack of concentration while holding on a field goal attempt late in the fourth angered Coach Jim Zorn.
Brooks, who botched a hold in a 29-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints in Week 2, called for the ball before the official gave it to long snapper Ethan Albright, disrupting the timing of the kick.
"I was shellshocked a little bit," said Brooks, whom Zorn berated on the sideline after place kicker Shaun Suisham missed a 52-yard kick with 3 minutes 29 seconds remaining in the game.
"He thought I was out of the game [mentally], and it was a critical time in the game. I came off to the sideline, and he got really upset. I should have made sure that Ethan had the ball. I can take the blame for that."
For the second time in as many weeks, Campbell effectively directed the offense as Washington (2-1) ran out the clock. After the two-minute warning, Campbell teamed with tight end Chris Cooley for a 26-yard reception that gave the Redskins a first down and all but ended the Cardinals' hope of a comeback.
In large part because of its productive passing attack led by Warner and star wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2-1) had a perfect record after two games for the first time since the 1991 season. Washington's secondary absorbed some blows from the trio but stood strong, and Torrence and Rogers provided timely inspiration for a team that has consecutive victories after its shaky opener.
"When you see something like that, when you see those guys creating turnovers and getting the ball back for the offense to have an opportunity to score, you have to like it," said Campbell, who completed 22 of 30 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns and has no turnovers in three games.