- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION

A review of the best and worst performances by the Washington Redskins‘ defense and some observations after rewatching the TV broadcast of their 23-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

GAME BALLS

ROLB BRIAN ORAKPO: This was Orakpo’s best game in weeks. He was stout against the run on the edge and gave former first-round pick LT Russell Okung all he could handle in the passing game. (Remember the Redskins in 2010 chose LT Trent Williams fourth-overall over Okung, who went sixth).


Orakpo’s bull rush, in particular, was effective. He helped the Redskins get off the field on fourth-and-5 in the final minutes by bulling Okung back. He was low off the snap, rolled his hips after engaging on a seven-man blitz and got off the block to sack QB Tarvaris Jackson only 3.0 seconds after the snap.

Much is made of Orakpo’s sack totals, especially against NFC East opponents, but, as he proved Sunday, he doesn’t need sacks to impact the passing game. On first-and-20 from midfield in the second quarter, he got around Okung with a speed rush and forced Jackson to step up and reset. That disrupted the timing of a throw to the flat, and it bounced incomplete. He also broke up a quick screen by getting off Okung’s cut block and jumping into the flight of the throw. It was reminiscent of how OLB Ryan Kerrigan intercepted New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning in Week 1.

Orakpo also drew a holding penalty against TE Zach Miller and a chop block against T Breno Giacomini. The chop block was critical — with the Seahawks down 3 with 6 minutes to go, it pushed them from their 40-yard line to the 25 and set up an unmanageable first-and-25.

Orakpo set the edge several times in the run game, channeling RB Marshawn Lynch back inside to ILB Perry Riley.

RDE STEPHEN BOWEN: It’s a bit awkward to have a defensive lineman on this list, considering the Redskins gave up 124 rushing yards, but Bowen got better as the game progressed. That was imperative, too, because NT Barry Cofield had his hands full with Seattle C Max Unger.

After CB Josh Wilson was flagged for a 44-yard pass interference penalty in the third quarter — I agree with FOX analyst Jim Mora that it was a bogus call — Bowen set the tone for that critical series. The Seahawks positioned RT Breno Giacomini as the tight end to the left of LT Russell Okung. When DL Darrion Scott penetrated between Unger and TE Zach Miller on a run to the right, Bowen got to Giacomini’s play-side shoulder, got down the line and tackled RB Marshawn Lynch for 2 yards. The Redskins held the Seahawks to a field goal and kept the game within reach. He later swam through LG Robert Gallery — throwing Gallery to the ground with one arm, in fact — to stop Lynch for 1-yard on second-and-3 from the Redskins‘ 19 in the fourth quarter.

And with the outcome in the balance in the final minute, Bowen stunted with OLB Brian Orakpo and came free for a vicious hit on QB Tarvaris Jackson. Bowen attacked Okung’s right shoulder and knocked him to the ground. When Gallery switched off to take Orakpo, Bowen had a free run at Jackson, who was intercepted by CB DeAngelo Hall to seal the victory. Bowen is lucky he wasn’t flagged for spearing Jackson with the crown of his helmet. See for yourself here. But the hit helped the Redskins get off the field for the final time.

SS LARON LANDRY:Landry was the Rex Grossman of the defense, which is to say he overcame some negative plays with two positive game-changers in the clutch.

Landry was blocked in space on the Seahawks‘ first touchdown, a swing pass to the right that went for 20 yards. He injured his groin on the play, too, adding that to his list of ailments. But credit Landry for pushing through the injuries and positively impacting the game at the end.

Landry looked bad on the fourth-quarter third-and-6 when WR Doug Baldwin caught a pass over the middle, bounced off his hit and gained 12 additional yards. Landry knew it, too. He cursed himself about the play in the locker room after the game. He said he was indecisive – at first he thought he was there in time to go for the interception, and when he realized he wasn’t, he didn’t recover to make a quality tackle.

Landry did recover, though, to make two big plays. With the Redskins‘ down 17-14 in the final 8 minutes, he got them off the field by sacking QB Tarvaris Jackson on third-and-6. He came unblocked on an eight-man blitz.

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