Defense Wins Championships

After finishing the preseason 3-1, the Redskins opened the regular season Sunday September 11 against the New York Giants.

To say that the Giants have had the Redskins' number lately is an understatement. The truth is that the Giants had won the previous six meetings against the Redskins: three season's worth of games.

But this season feels a little different: this is the second season for coach Mike Shanahan, a well-respected coach with two Super Bowl rings; this season comes after a 2011 draft that shook the image of the Redskins' tendency to trade away draft picks; this season has brought the defensive personnel that fit into the 3-4 scheme of coordinator Jim Hasslet.

This season has potential.

So, let's get into the knitty-gritty of yesterday's game.

In his first start since his days in the Windy City, Rex Grossman led the Redskins offense onto the field against a banged up Giants defense, playing without starters Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck.

Seemingly unfazed by the media, Grossman has been the professional at quarterback the Redskins needed. His confidence and readiness was shown (or "came to fruition" to use terminology now overused in sports media today) on the field against the Giants where he threw for 305 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Throughout the game, Grossman made good throws, hitting receivers in stride, and giving them the chance to make plays with their feet. This translated to an efficient 61.8% completion percentage and a 110.5 quarterback-rating, both high marks.

Hands down, Grossman's go-to receiver was Fred Davis, who finished with 5 catches for 105 yards including a 22-yard gain on 3rd-8 which set up the final touchdown of the game: a 4-yard strike from Grossman to Jabar Gaffney (3 catches, 54 yards), a connection revived from their star days at the University of Florida.

This 4-yard score put the game out of reach, 28-14, and capped off a 6-minute drive, leaving the Giants with only five minutes left in the game to respond.

They didn't.

Instead, the defense held strong, sacking Eli Manning on both of the Giants final two offensive drives, one of which, by Adam Carriker, ended the game triumphantly for the Burgundy and Gold.

This brings me to the inspiration for the title of this article: the defense.

The Redskin's defense took the field against the current leader in consecutive games played, Eli Manning. Should there be controversy around Peyton's current injury and subsequent streak-snapping, and Eli's now-current lead? I say, yes.

Anyways, the Skins' defense could care less as to whether Eli had anything to do with Peyton's injury. In fact, it seemed as though they were trying to put Eli's streak in danger: 4 sacks and constant pressure was put on Manning.

One of the biggest plays of the game was produced by rookie Adam Kerrigan.

On the Giants first drive of the second half, Kerrigan deflected a chop-block attempt by right-tackle Kareem McKenzie, jumped up and tipped Manning's pass attempt, caught the tip, and rumbled in for a 9-yard touchdown.

After the score, Kerrigan was seen on the sideline smiling from ear-to-ear, reliving the play with teammates, laughing and merry-making. Kerrigan looks like the player and personality we desperately needed.

Now, with Kerrigan, it seems as though we have found Brian Orakpo's "Bruise Brother." (Orakpo was not to be outdone though: he blocked Lawrence Tynes' 38-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter).

Defense definitely was the word of the day. They forced the Giants to go 1-10 on third down, Reed Doughty (filling in for Laron Landry) racked up 9 tackles and 2 assists at free-safety, as well as the stiffling fact that the Giants did not score in the second half.

A shout out also needs to go to the unexpected success of rookie Chris Nield (two sacks and a forced fumble). Nield, drafted out of West Virginia in the 7th round, filled in nicely for the injured Jarvis Jenkins.

So. The Redskins won.

They beat an NFC-East opponent, saw the Dallas Cowboys lose in an epic collapse, and remembered those who were lost on 9-11. (In case any of the players needed extra incentive to get fired up for Sunday's game, the pregame festivities should have done the job).

Next week, the Redskins face off against a former NFC-East foe, the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona is coming off a close-win against the apparent "answer" to Carolina Panthers fans' prayers: Cam Newton.

In other (refreshing) news, owner Dan Snyder came to his senses this past weekend, and dropped the charges against Washington City Paper. Here's the original article that caused Snyder to sue for damages.

Has there been a turnaround in Washington? Stay tuned!

(Jonathan Wigginton is the Chat Sports Senior Writer for the Washington Redskins. Have a Twitter account? Follow Jonathan @ChatRedskins)

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