That changed in a big way in the second quarter of Sunday’s 45-41 victory over the Chicago Bears. Orakpo took his first career interception 29 yards into the end zone to break a 10-10 tie at 13:38 of the second.
It was Orakpo’s first career touchdown, too. And while the Redskins gave that back on a punt return by Bears special teams ace Devin Hester later in the quarter, it still set the tone defensively. At least during a solid first half.
“I didn’t know what to do when I got to the end zone,” Orakpo joked afterwards. “It was a phenomenal feeling. I’ve been trying to get my Ryan Kerrigan on with all the picks he’s got. And Rob Jackson. Trying to catch up a little bit.”
Teammate Reed Doughty was covering Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and helped break up the pass. The ball tipped into the air and Orakpo snatched it and took off down the right sideline. He went into the end zone untouched. Nose tackle Barry Cofield also helped force a throw from Cutler with pressure up the middle.
“I thought it was a hold and then the back picked me up,” Cofield said. “But if you’re able to get in the quarterback’s face it makes his life more difficult and [Orakpo] made a great play tracking that ball. … His first one since maybe Pee-Wee when he snuck one in. He’s definitely not known for his hands.”
That’s not far from the truth. Orakpo said he has actually never scored a touchdown or had an interception at any level. Not middle school, when he first started playing football, high school, college or the NFL. It was a good time for one.
Cutler knocked out early
Cutler was hurt with 10:09 left in the second quarter when he was sacked by Washington defensive lineman Chris Baker and rolled over on the turf twice. He left the game with what was called a groin injury. It was Baker’s first career sack.
“It felt great to get your first sack,” Baker said. “I was disappointed that [Cutler] got hurt. It also felt good that you took someone out, but you never want someone to get hurt.”
Josh McCown, an eight-year NFL veteran, came into the game for the Bears, who had just 28 passing yards in the first half. McCown had not taken a snap in a regular-season NFL game since 2011 with Chicago, yet engineered four scoring drives in the second half, three of them for touchdowns. Baker claimed that McCown’s scrambling ability didn’t change much defensively for Washington given that Cutler can use his legs, too. But the results were certainly better.
“That’s not the first time that’s happened to me. That’s happened a couple of times in my career where the back-up comes in and he sparks the team, plays well,” Cofield said. “You can’t let your guard down. … You’ve got to keep playing your best football. And, obviously, we missed some tackles and we didn’t play our best in the second half and he made us pay.”
Doughty suffers concussion