When Billy Cundiff missed a 31-yard field goal last week, an error that ultimately cost the kicker his job, the course of the Washington Redskins' game against the Atlanta Falcons changed. The momentum went the other way, and as special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander pointed out, the Redskins are not a good enough team to withstand those kinds of blunders.
Enter new kicker Kai Forbath who, in his NFL debut, did his job to a tee. He got just one field goal attempt Sunday, but by making that 50-yarder in the second quarter, he sparked the Redskins' 38-26 comeback victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
"If our offense puts us in a position where we can get field goals, we've got to put points on the board," Alexander said. "I thought we did a great job of doing that."
The Vikings led 9-0 when Forbath lined up for his first career regular-season attempt. Coach Mike Shanahan at that moment realized the tall task he was putting in front of the 25-year-old rookie.
"I'm a nice guy, aren't I? Breaking in a kicker his first kick is a 50-yarder," coach Mike Shanahan said. "I started thinking about that. I thought he's not going to be very popular if he misses."
By making it, Forbath sent fans at FedEx Field longing for a reliable kicker into a frenzy. It was like the Redskins had won the Super Bowl, even though they were still down six.
Forbath, well-aware of the Redskins' sordid recent history of kickers, didn't notice the reaction.
"I was busy trying to give high-fives to my linemen for blocking," he said.
But from there, they scored touchdowns on two consecutive drives and managed to build up enough of a cushion to withstand the Vikings' late push.
"I'm just happy that we got off to a good start," Forbath said. "Getting some points on the board helps the offense get going, and it did for us."
The 50-yarder was the Redskins' longest of the season; Cundiff missed from 62 and 57 yards earlier this year before getting cut.
"With all the struggles we've been having with our special teams unit, it just felt good," receiver Niles Paul said. "I finally feel like we played a complete game on special teams and we can keep building from here."
Going 1-for-1, this wasn't an arduous day for Forbath, but it was nevertheless important for him to get this out of the way.
"It's huge for your confidence. That's all kicking is is going out there with confidence," Forbath said. "You know you're going to make it and you hit good, that's what's going to happen."
Williams makes play
For the fourth time this season, the Redskins scored a defensive touchdown. The previous three times, they lost the game.
"Usually when you score on defense, you win the game," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said last week. "So maybe we've got to get two."
No, one was enough Sunday to get the job done, as safety Madieu Williams intercepted Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"We have a lot of playmakers on this defense, whether it's the D-line, linebackers or guys in the secondary," Williams said. "It's a great feeling whenever you can get a defensive score. It changes the game."
The Redskins have four defensive touchdowns in a season for the first time since 1999. They have 49 points off turnovers through six games after putting up just 43 all last year.
Robert Griffin III's touchdown rush in the third quarter was his fifth of the season, setting a single-season franchise record for TD runs by a quarterback. His 77-yard TD run in the fourth made it six. ... The Redskins' victory snapped an eight-game home losing skid. ... Safety Jordan Pugh left the game with a head injury.
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