After the 27-17 win against the Philadelphia Eagles, it was a no-brainer the Washington Football Team would be recognized for its efforts, specifically on the defensive side of the ball.
In the biggest comeback win against Philadelphia, the defense tallied eight total sacks, its most in a single game since 2014. The defensive line’s pressure affected quarterback Carson Wentz’s ability to look for his targets throughout the game, led by four-time Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan.
For the first time in his career, the defensive end was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week. His two tackles, two sacks and fumble recovery that sealed the game for Washington were key components to the victory. And he did it coming off the bench.
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Kerrigan also made Washington history by becoming the all-time leader in official sacks since 1982 with 92 recorded sacks in his career. He passed the previous leader, Dexter Manley, who recorded 91 total sacks.
“The important thing is that it just shows how selfless Ryan Kerrigan is and how true Washington Football Team player he is, just because of that,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “He understands that we have a couple of young guys we got to get on the field, but he also knows that he has a tremendous role and impact while coming off the bench and being fresh and getting two sacks and recovering a fumble and cause a couple other plays that happened out there. Speaks to who he is as a young man and what he means to our franchise going forward.”
Being on the field for only 22 snaps preserves Kerrigan’s energy while giving the young players like Montez Sweat and Chase Young an opportunity to shine. At this stage of his career, this can potentially be a huge problem for the opposing offensive lines further into the season. If Kerrigan’s legs can remain fresh, he may reach the 100-sack mark by the end of the season.
In week two the Washington Football Team faces the Arizona Cardinals led by second-year star quarterback Kyler Murray, who threw for 230 yards and ran for 91 against the Super Bowl runner up San Francisco 49ers. The matchup between Washington’s defense and Arizona’s offense may be the deciding factor this Sunday, and the dual-threat QB could cause problems for Washington’s defense. However, head coach Kliff Kingsbury is more worried about Washington’s defensive front.
“The relentless effort,” he said. “Obviously, there is some freak athletes in there with [DE] Chase [Young] and [DE] Montez [Sweat] and [DE Ryan] Kerrigan, just his motor and his relentless style of play is contagious. They just wreak havoc really the entire game when you watch that. They get in your face. They can chase and run. It’s just a fantastic group that plays really hard.”
Washington has not started the season 2-0 since 2011, however if the defense can somewhat resemble last week’s performance, it has a real opportunity to remain at the top of the division.
The Washington Football Team plays at Arizona Sunday at 4:05 p.m.