It was the kind of game Washington could have played any of the past two weeks, had Shane Matthews been in place. His veteran savvy was noticeable as he eluded rushers, felt the blitz and got rid of the ball. His stats weren't pretty--he only completed 17 of 35 passes, but he was only sacked once and wasn't intercepted.
He was exactly what the Redskins needed.
And so, too, was the defense. That's what's been the best development over the past three weeks. Forget the points in the previous two losses--blame those on the offense, which constantly turned the ball over.
But Sunday night the Redskins allowed only two touchdown drives against a still-dangerous offense. It's a sign that the pieces are starting to fit. And it's clear that the players are not only starting to grasp Marvin Lewis' defense, they're starting to excel.
Jeremiah Trotter is playing relaxed, which is why he's made more of an impact the last game and a half (too silent in the first half against Green Bay). The other linebackers are making the types of plays everyone expected.
Tackle Daryl Gardener is more comfortable in this defense, which is why he lined up at right end in a three-man rush on one down Sunday.
And starting Ifeanyi Ohalete, something we advocated this summer, has paid off. Ohalete brings passion and excitement to a young, aggressive defense. He's fun to watch because he plays with so much energy and he makes plays.
Mostly, what you see is a defense that's been swarming to the ball for most of the past three games. That's a clear sign they feel comfortable. It's a clear sign they're headed in the right direction.
Before Sunday, Washington's playoff contention hopes were questionable. Now the Redskins enter the next three games knowing they can win, thanks to solid quarterback play and a defense that's climbed among the top 10. And is getting better.
Defense, quarterback key Redskins
Breaking Burgundy Top Stories
Redskins Defense Caves Late In 31-23 LossQuick postgame thoughts from Ben Standig on the Redskins second straight loss, one that puts them on the outside of the NFC playoffs.
Breaking BurgundyYesterday at 5:11 PM
Worst Free Agent Signings Under McCloughanOn the day David Bruton is released, Ben Standig ranks the worst signings since Scot McCloughan took over the front office.
Breaking BurgundyFriday at 3:04 PM
Source: Redskins Promote CB PhillipsThe Redskins are returning CB Dashaun Phillips to the active roster, which could indicate the need for more options against the Cardinals.
Breaking BurgundyFriday at 12:37 PM
Three Reasons Redskins Can Beat the CardinalsEven without Trent Williams and likely Jordan Reed, even with another road game, there are reasons to think the Redskins win Sunday in Arizona. We offer three.
Breaking BurgundyFriday at 6:29 AM