Cornerback DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washington Redskins rushes the ball after intercepting a Philadelphia Eagles pass during the first quarter at FedEx Field on Nov. 18.
And just like that, the Redskins have a defense.
Of course, it's hard to make any real judgments about the long-term impacts of one good game against an Eagles team that redefines dysfunction. Still, after a season's worth of disappointing performances, Washington got a solid showing from its weakest unit, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
"We always thought we were a pretty good defense,” linebacker Perry Riley said according to CSN Washington, “but just going out there and putting it on the field like that, it definitely boosts our confidence.”
For the record, the 'Skins allowed just six points to a hapless Eagles outfit, intercepted rookie quarterback Nick Foles twice, and held one of the league's most dangerous runners, LeSean McCoy, to just 45 yards on 15 carries. So, yeah, there's a lot to like even if we have no clue if the bye-week tweaks are here to stay, or if Washington was the beneficiary of good timing and an awful Philly offense.
“For the first time, I feel like we played a full game,” said cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who also had an interception on the game's third play. “The way this group of guys were focusing in this locker room the whole week of preparation, it wouldn’t have mattered who you had out there.”
And now, less than two weeks after we were all having the "Jim Haslett should probably be fired during the bye week, right?" conversations, the defensive coordinator is suddenly in everyone's good graces.
“Haz did a great job of calling the game, mixing it up and really getting after them,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said via the Washington Post. “We really put a lot of pressure on [rookie QB Nick] Foles, and didn’t give him a lot of time to go to [WR DeSean Jackson] or [Jeremy] Maclin. ...For a team that’s built to generate big plays to not have any, that’s a big step up for us, because we’ve at least been giving up one a game.”
But it's one thing to whip up on a rookie quarterback under center for a team that gave up weeks ago.
On Thursday afternoon, the 'Skins will face the Cowboys in the Jones Mahal, Jerry's mecca to Big Texas Football. Dallas sits at 5-5, a game behind the Giants and a game ahead of Washington.
And while quarterback Tony Romo has struggled with consistency this season, that has more to do with a suspect offensive line and receivers who insist on running the wrong routes.
And let's not forget that the Cowboys needed four hours to beat the Browns on Sunday.
Put another way: Yes, Romo's a wily veteran who has a knack for making big plays, but don't mistake this Cowboys team for the ones that frequented the Super Bowl in the '90s.
The Redskins' success starts with Robert Griffin III but he can't do it alone. The defense will have to continue to play at a high level if Washington is going to turn 3-6 into a legit shot at the postseason.
The Philly win was huge, obviously, but it's also in the rearview.
“The Eagles game is over,” fullback Darrel Young told the Post. “You can’t live in the past.”