This week, the Redskins defense made sure that, with the offense once again struggling in the second half, they wouldn’t blow yet another fourth quarter lead.
The Redskins defense held the offense of the St. Louis Rams to only 172 total offense in the entire game, sacked Rams quarterback Sam Bradford seven times, hit Bradford 10 times, and recorded seven more tackles for a loss, helping the Redskins secure a 17-10 win in St. Louis.
The Rams cut a 17-0 fourth quarter deficit down to 17-10 with just under six minutes left to go in the fourth quarter, and seemed poised to hand the Redskins another loss from the clutches of victory. On the first play after the Rams scoring drive that brought the game to 17-10, Grossman’s pass intended for Santana Moss was intercepted by linebacker James Laurinitis, whom Grossman never saw before completing the pass. The interception gave the Rams the ball on the Redskins 19 yard line.
But the Redskins defense rose to the occasion, sacking Bradford on second and third downs on that drive (courtesy of Stephen Bowen – who had 1.5 sacks of his own – and Orakpo), knocking the Rams out of the red zone, and eventually forcing them to punt. Even after the Redskins offense ended up going three-and-out, the defense once again held the Rams to only 11 yards on seven plays, forcing a turnover on downs on what would be the Rams last possession of the afternoon.
Redskins running back Ryan Torain, almost considered a forgotten player after being dropped to third on the running back depth chart behind Tim Hightower and Roy Helu, easily had the best performance by a Redskins running back this season. After not getting his first carry until midway through the 2nd quarter, Torain finished with 135 yards on 19 carries – averaging 7.1 yards per carry – and a rushing touchdown.
The Redskins opened the scoring on the day, completing an 11 play 69 yard drive that ended with a six yard touchdown reception by Santana Moss, on their second offensive possession.
They scored again midway through the second quarter, on a drive that lasted only three plays. Starting on the Rams 44 yard line – having been set up by the sack and forced fumble from Ryan Kerrigan (recovered by defensive lineman Barry Cofield) – Grossman completed a 17 yard pass to receiver Jabar Gaffney (who led the Redskins with 62 receiving yards on the day), Torain carried the ball for seven yards on his first carry of the game, and then ripped off a 20 yard touchdown run on his second carry.
The Redskins made it 17-0 after their first offensive possession of the second half, with Graham Gano converting a 38 yard field goal to cap off an eight play, 62 yard drive.
And then began an uncomfortable case of near deja-vu for Redskisn fans.
On the fourth play of the fourth quarter, Grossman’s pass to Santana Moss bounced off Moss’ hands and into the hands of Rams cornerback Justin King, who returned the ball to the Redskins 31 yard line. The Rams would eventually end the drive with a field goal, cutting the score to 17-3.
After the Redskins went three and out, the Rams scored again, ending a 10 play, 65 yard drive with a 15 yard touchdown pass from Bradford to running back Steven Jackson. Jackson came out of the backfield to catch the pass, beating on the route, and catching a beautifully thrown pass.
On the Redskins very next play, Grossman threw his second interception of the game – his 15th turnover in seven games as the Redskins starting quarterback – which was intercepted by Laurinitis. But unlike last week’s collapse against the Dallas Cowboys, the Redskins defense made sure that the Rams would not add any other points on the day.
The Redskins now sit atop the NFC East with a 3-1 record, after both the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles lost again (as of this post), as they head into the bye week. Their next game will be a Sunday night matchup against the aforementioned Eagles, on October 16th.