Haynesworth also jumped over an offensive lineman to grab Cutler at the 1-yard line, maintaining a strong grip as the quarterback reached to get the ball over the goal line for what appeared to be a touchdown. Linebacker London Fletcher knocked the ball loose and recovered what was ruled a fumble _ and Chicago coach Lovie Smith didn’t challenge the ruling _ creating a huge turnaround play in a game decided by three points.
Haynesworth has mostly been a distraction and a disappointment since signing with the Washington Redskins last season. Imagine the possibilities if he keeps playing the way he did in Sunday’s 17-14 win over the Bears.
It’s been all too easy to pick on Haynesworth and fellow well-paid teammate DeAngelo Hall lately, but, at least for a day, they looked like players worthy of big investments. Haynesworth was disruptive down low, and Hall tied an NFL record with four interceptions as the defense rescued a sputtering offense and moved the Redskins (4-3) back above .500.
“Albert played exceptionally well,” said coach Mike Shanahan, uttering four words that have been hard to come by this season. “It’s the best that he’s played, obviously, this season. But looking at film from last year, I think it’s the best game he’s played since he’s been here.”
The story is a familiar one. Haynesworth didn’t want to play for the Redskins this season because they were switching to a 3-4 defense. He skipped a mandatory minicamp, asked for a trade, needed 10 days to pass a training camp conditioning test and swapped frosty verbal volleys with Shanahan throughout the preseason.
Off the field, the two-time All-Pro has dealt with at least three lawsuits and other legal issues. He recently missed a game after his half brother died in a motorcycle accident, then wasn’t allowed to play in the following game _ last week’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts _ because he wasn’t deemed by Shanahan to be physically and mentally ready to play again.
“2010 has been the worst year of my life,” Haynesworth said after Sunday’s game, “so I just want to kind of get it over with and keep playing, hopefully.”
From an emotional standpoint, Haynesworth spoke of how he was inspired by the memory of his half brother. From a strategic standpoint, he said the Redskins made his job simpler by taking him out of run defense packages. Less thinking equals more production _ at least by Haynesworth’s reckoning.
“When you have a lot to think about in football, a player’s going to play slow,” Haynesworth said. “Now that they took me out of the (run defense) stuff and I can just play the nickel stuff and the stuff that I’m used to, I have a lot less to think about and go _ and just play the game.”
“I would have loved to play. I played the Colts for seven years, twice a year, so I probably knew the Colts better than anybody on the team,” said Haynesworth, referencing his tenure with the Tennessee Titans. “But it was his decision.”
Shanahan said Haynesworth won’t be used solely as a pass-rush specialist with a $100 million contract. The coach said Haynesworth played 33 snaps against the Bears _ about half of the defensive plays _ and fared well against both the run and pass.
“He played hard,” Shanahan said. “We expect that type of effort out of him.”View Entire Story
By Elaine Donnelly
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