Josh Wilson’s first season as a Washington Redskin hasn’t gone according to plan. Signed by Mike Shanahan to bolster one of 2010’s worst secondaries, the fifth-year cornerback has produced very little in his first year playing for his hometown team.
But his presence was felt in Sunday’s 34-27 loss to the Patriots when Wilson recorded his first interception as a Redskin, in one of the game’s most critical moments.
With New England in the red zone trying to add an insurance touchdown with minutes to play, Tom Brady forced a pass to Tiquan Underwood in the back of the end zone. Wilson stretched out, kept his feet in bounds and made an athletic play to snatch the ball away from Underwood. It was a special play against one the league’s greatest quarterbacks to give the Redskins one last chance to score a huge upset over the heavily favored Patriots.
“I anticipated [Brady] was going to throw the ball,” Wilson said. “I’m on the backside, singled out…When he came back I knew one thing is either I was going to catch this ball or nobody was going to catch it, and I’m just happy I had the opportunity to make it.”
It’s an opportunity few defensive backs get, because Brady is such a surgeon inside the opposing team’s 20. Rarely does a red zone attempt hit the ground, and it’s almost unthinkable to get a shot at a pick. Brady has just three red zone interceptions on the year, and had never thrown one in a home game until this season against the New York Jets.
“He’s a great quarterback,” said Brian Orakpo. “We’re not used to an offense like that and he leads everything.”
Most teams struggle to cover the Patriots’ many weapons, and the Redskins proved to be no exception. Brady became the first quarterback to throw for 300 yards against Washington this season, spreading the ball around to seven different receivers including all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski who finished with 160 yards and two touchdowns.
“They put a lot of challenges on the defense with the tight ends and the receivers that [they] have,” said London Fletcher. “Their passing game is the best that [we’re] probably going to face all year.”
Yet Wilson rose to the occasion at the right moment and though the Redskins couldn’t capitalize on his heroics, he’ll use this game to generate some good will from fans who haven’t been happy with his recent play.
Of course he might not be under such scrutiny were it not for the sudden emergence of the man Wilson replaced at cornerback. Carlos Rogers – much maligned during his time in Washington – is having a career year on the west coast with five interceptions for the 49ers.
That’s put more pressure on Wilson to contribute right away, which he hasn’t done on a consistent basis. In week three against Dallas, he defended four passes and did an excellent job locking down his side of the field, but had done nothing notable since except blow coverage on Santonio Holmes game-winning touchdown catch against the Jets.
Now Wilson is back on track, hoping that his interception is just the beginning of a prolific stay in Washington.
“I’ve dropped a bunch of [interceptions],” he said. “They say after you catch that first one, the rest of them come raining. I’ve got three weeks to let it rain.”