Rookie nose tackle Chris Neild had a memorable outing in his NFL debut, recording two sacks and a forced fumble in the second half of Washington’s win over New York.
“I just try to come in and do my job,” Neild said. “I came into this game expecting 10 snaps and I knew with those snaps I wanted to give my all. I was just happy to be able to do my job.”
Back in April, Neild was two picks away from going undrafted, and entered the Redskins’ training camp as a bubble player who was believed to be a practice squad candidate.
But instead, in the final week of the preseason, the West Virginia product beat out fifth-year veteran Anthony Bryant for the backup nose tackle duties, and on Sunday saw significant action.
In an effort to keep starter Barry Cofield fresh, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett sent Neild into the game to start two different defensive stands, and both times, Neild recorded a sack deep in Giants’ territory.
The first came on New York’s second third-quarter series. One play after stopping running back Brandon Jacobs for a one-yard gain on first-and-10 from the 20, Neild popped into the backfield and dropped Eli Manning for a six-yard loss.
After the game, the 6-foot-2, 315-pound Neild said the play actually had the potential to go very wrong initially.
“It was loud out there. I had heard it was loud at FedEx Field, but it was loud. I didn’t hear the blitz change-up, and I ran into [left defensive end] Adam [Carriker],” Neild said. “The offensive lineman must not have known what was going on, and I was able to get the sack. Luckily it turned out good, because if it didn’t, I know that I would’ve been walking back with my head hanging because I would’ve gotten chewed out.”
The Giants then faced third-and-15, but managed only a 10-yard pass to Ahmad Bradshaw and had to punt.
On the final play of the third quarter, a first-and-10 from New York’s 10-yard line, Neild won a one-on-one matchup and dropped Manning for a seven-yard loss and forced a fumble.
“Any time a guy gets two sacks, I don’t think you’re expecting that in the first game of his first season, especially a nose tackle,” coach Mike Shanahan said afterward. “But Chris has that type of mindset. He’s a worker, like the way he handles himself, very accountable, and he played accordingly.”