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Redskins’ Orakpo stars under pressure
OAKLAND, Calif. | Rookie linebacker Brian Orakpo never had a football game like he did Sunday. Never in high school, never at the University of Texas.
The 13th overall draft choice had four sacks and a forced fumble as the Redskins beat the Raiders 34-13.
“I had three one time,” Orakpo said. “It was in high school.”
Orakpo became the first rookie to record four sacks in a game since Cornelius Bennett did it for the Buffalo Bills in 1987.
The rookie was at the forefront of a feeding frenzy for the Washington defense. The Redskins got constant pressure on Oakland quarterbacks on a miserable afternoon, sacking Bruce Gradkowski and JaMarcus Russell eight times. This despite the absence of Albert Haynesworth, who missed the game with a left ankle injury.
The eight sacks were the most in a game for Washington since 1990, falling two short of the team record.
“We had a lead,” Orakpo said. “We were able to get after them because we knew they had to pass the ball, and coach really let us loose.
“You get in a zone, man. You ask any D-man, you get a couple? You’re just in the zone. [The offense] don’t know what you’re going to do next. Any simple move will get you there.”
The Redskins first got to Gradkowski on the Raiders’ first drive, with Reed Doughty dropping him for a 4-yard loss on third down and forcing a punt. Later in the first quarter, Orakpo announced his presence with authority, creaming Gradkowski for a 9-yard loss. It was a huge play because it came on second-and-10 at midfield and killed Oakland’s drive.
But the key play of the afternoon wasn’t actually a sack. Andre Carter almost pulled down Gradkowski on a toss to Justin Fargas. Gradkowski injured his knee on the play, and although he finished the half, he did not return after halftime.
That brought Russell off the bench to a chorus of boos from the home crowd, giving the Redskins a less-mobile target. Russell lost his starting job last month when coach Tom Cable had finally had enough of the former No. 1 pick, whose lack of mobility led to him taking too many sacks and fumbling too often.
The Redskins proceeded to tee off on Russell.
“One thing we knew about him was that he wasn’t going to scramble as much as the previous quarterback,” Carter said. “As a defense, you kind of lick your chops and get ready to go hunting.”
The fourth quarter was open season on Russell. After a Quinton Ganther touchdown made it 31-13, the Raiders took over at their 20. On first down, Orakpo clobbered Russell, forcing a fumble in the process. Carter had a shot at recovering the ball for an easy touchdown but couldn’t grab it.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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