Finally, Redskins have a hit

Oakland quarterbacks are sacked eight times, while offense puts up a season-high 34 points

Washington records eight sacks, four by Brian Orakpo, during a victory in Oakland.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 14, 2009

OAKLAND, CALIF. -- On a dreary day with their disappointing season winding down, the Washington Redskins continued to play hard to the end and, in a welcome change for them, finished well.

They finally produced the strong closing kick that was missing in three consecutive close losses during a 34-13 rout of the Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Quarterback Jason Campbell again was sharp despite poor field conditions, new starting running back Quinton Ganther scored his first career touchdowns and the Redskins' fierce pass rush often overwhelmed the Raiders' offense in front of a rain-soaked announced crowd of 44,506.

"Well, it seemed like it was a long time coming," Coach Jim Zorn said. "We've been so close the last several games, to be able to close out like we did today, to be able to keep that pressure on the entire game, overcome some of the adversity that was put forth, I just can't tell you how excited I am for our players.

"Our coaches did a great job putting a plan together and going on and executing it. We left a lot of good players at home. And yet the players that are here have a lot of heart. You can feel the team continuing to stay together."

Despite playing without injured Pro Bowlers DeAngelo Hall, Albert Haynesworth and Mike Sellers, who did not accompany the team on the trip, Washington (4-9) scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to take a commanding lead in ending a road losing streak at nine games.

Washington's offense has scored at least 30 points in consecutive games for the first time under Zorn and the 21-point margin of victory also set a new mark for the second-year head coach. After experiencing many late breakdowns during the last three losses, which were by a total of seven points and included the demoralizing 33-30 overtime defeat in Week 13 to the New Orleans Saints at FedEx Field -- Washington's defense impressed in sacking Raiders quarterbacks a season-high eight times and limiting Oakland (4-9) to a 2.7-yard average on 24 rushes.

Rookie defensive end-strong-side linebacker Brian Orakpo had four sacks to tie the team's single-game record and defensive end Andre Carter contributed two.

"I was just in the zone. I felt like I was back at [the University of] Texas," said Orakpo, the first rookie to have at least four sacks in a game since Cornelius Bennett accomplished the feat with the Buffalo Bills in December of 1987.

"We had a lead and was able to get after it because we knew they had to pass the ball. You've got to give the credit to our [defensive] coordinator. Coach [Greg] Blache really let us loose."

Oakland backup quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who played the second half because starter Bruce Gradkowski injured his knee, was sacked six times for losses of 52 yards. The ineffective Russell -- the first overall pick in the 2007 draft -- was benched in favor of Gradkowski in November, and many in the small crowd booed when he entered the game in the third quarter. He finished with a 47.4 passer rating.

"Well, I thought it was a tough situation," Oakland Coach Tom Cable said of Russell's performance. "Could he have done better? Probably. But everyone could have."

Safety LaRon Landry, who has struggled in deep pass coverage against double moves, intercepted one of Russell's passes in the fourth quarter to help set up Ganther's second one-yard touchdown run within a two-minute span on the game clock. That was the Redskins' knockout blow.

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