The numbers are ugly and it’s too late for that change now. Critics will analyze the Redskins defense and say it wasn’t very good this year. And it’s tough to argue those cold, hard statistics.
There are the 383.1 yards allowed per game, 28th overall in a 32-team NFL. The passing defense is even worse, ranked 30th at 287.7 yards per game. And yet Washington continues to win games. Make it seven in a row after a 28-18 victory over Dallas at FedEx Field on Sunday night produced an NFC East championship and playoff berth.
The secondary had a fine effort against the Cowboys with just 218 passing yards allowed and 318 yards overall. Can this continue in the playoffs beginning Sunday at home against the Seattle Seahawks? The players, who believe it’s a different group than what we saw early in the season, are sure it can and will.
“I mean we’re good enough. We’re good enough to get to the playoffs. We’re good enough to win seven games in a row,” defensive tackle Barry Cofield said. “Whether we’re playing our best or…we definitely want to play better. And I hear ‘Bend, but don’t break.’ We don’t want to bend or break. We’ve made some timely plays, forced some turnovers. This is a [Dallas] offense that had been rolling, especially when they were behind, they put up a lot of points and we were able to contain them. It’s all about being hot at the right time. I think we’re playing better defense than most at this time of year and that’s what’s important.”
Indeed, Washington forced three turnovers – all Tony Romo interceptions – and have consistently won that battle all season. And it isn’t just the defensive backs contributing. The linebackers, too, have shown a knack for dropping into coverage at the perfect time and then showing the skill to make a play. A perfect example? Linebacker Rob Jackson peeling off to cover Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray on the decisive drive late in the fourth quarter. Romo thought he could get the ball past him. He couldn’t. Jackson’s interception sealed Dallas’ fate.
Veteran linebacker London Fletcher lamented an interception he almost made earlier in the second half. Defensive back DeAngelo Hall had a fantastic game covering Dallas star wide receiver Dez Bryant while Josh Wilson and Richard Crawford both had interceptions.
“That’s one thing I’ve said all year. Our secondary’s been much-maligned, statistically we haven’t been great,” Cofield said. “But when they get their hands on the ball, they make a lot of plays. And when I say secondary I mean our linebackers and our [defensive backs]. They got great hands, they’re playmakers and they cash in on mistakes that opposing quarterbacks make. And that’s key for us.”
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