Redskins' Defense Does Its Part

The Redskins make early mistakes and the offense never gets going, leading to a loss in Baltimore and dim hopes for a playoff berth.
By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 8, 2008

BALTIMORE, Dec. 7 -- With the offense showing no signs of life Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens, there was a sense among the Washington Redskins' defensive players that they would have to step up and make a play for the team to stand a chance.

The unit did just that, forcing two turnovers in the final two quarters to set up two scores that pulled the Redskins within a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

But the effort from the defense was not enough to overcome the lack of effectiveness from the offense, which has scored 10 points or fewer in four of the past five games, and the Redskins fell, 24-10.

Asked if the offenses' struggles ever made him feel guilty for the defense, Redskins Coach Jim Zorn answered frankly: "Ever? Always. I cringe every time I think about us scoring only 10 or seven."

But in the locker room, several defensive players said they could not focus on the continued struggles on the offensive side of the ball.

"I never look at it like that, I mean, it's a team effort," said safety LaRon Landry, who caused both late turnovers. "If the offense isn't doing so well, I think about scoring on defense. We just got to do what we need to do to handle our own. The offense is going to take care of they side of the ball and the defense is going to take care of their side of the ball. I'm not going to point my finger and say the offense is not scoring. Put it on our shoulders. Let's go score on defense."

Throughout much of the game, the defense had limited the Ravens' offense to not much more than a minimal impact.

The unit gave up a first-quarter touchdown, but only after an Ed Reed interception set up Baltimore's offense with a short field. Otherwise Baltimore struggled to put much together.

At the half, the Ravens had a meager 115 yards of total offense and were just 1 of 6 on third downs.

Still, with the third quarter dwindling down, the Redskins' offense had failed to move the ball at all against the Ravens' ferocious defense and Baltimore clung to a 17-point lead.

But on a deep pass on third and 13 with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter, Landry jumped a route and pulled down an interception, setting up a Shaun Suisham field goal that finally got Washington on the board.

Shortly after that score, Landry again made a play, this time forcing a Willis McGahee fumble that cornerback DeAngelo Hall returned 13 yards to the Baltimore 30-yard line. Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell found wide receiver Antwaan Randle El for a five-yard touchdown five plays later to pull Washington within a touchdown.

"As far as making the play, that's what I need to do," Landry said. "That's my job. I'm not going to say, 'Well, it was a big play, a [turning] point in the game' or what have you. That's my job. That's what I need to do."

But with Baltimore's lead trimmed to seven, the Ravens ran the ball on 11 consecutive plays in the fourth quarter before rookie quarterback Joe Flacco connected with Derrick Mason on a 28-yard touchdown, eating up nearly eight minutes on the drive and punishing the unit that had kept the game close for much of the night.

And despite the two turnovers that had briefly put Baltimore on its heels and gave the Redskins life, defensive coordinator Greg Blache pointed to that late drive as an opportunity missed and reason for the defense to point the finger at itself and not at the offense.

"There's a sense of frustration when we can't tackle and get off the field in that last drive," Blache said. "That's where our sense of frustration is. We had an opportunity to get off the field and give our offense a chance to win a football game and that's the only frustration that I know of or can speak of. . . . We control what we do."

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