- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 19, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO — For all its dominance this season, big plays had been fairly sparse for Washington’s defense through 13 games. The Redskins had intercepted just 13 passes, recovered only six fumbles and had yet to score a touchdown.

That all changed in a big way in yesterday’s 26-16 victory over hapless San Francisco. Linebacker Antonio Pierce, safety Sean Taylor, defensive end Ron Warner and cornerback Walt Harris all recorded interceptions. Pierce took his pick 78 yards to the end zone, while Taylor and Warner set up field goals with their interceptions.

“We were talking all week about scoring on defense and getting a shutout,” Pierce said. “The shutout didn’t happen, but we could have had two scores. It was just the right timing today. The crazy part about it was, we dropped two or three more picks.”

Despite the field goals that followed the takeaways by Taylor and Warner, the Redskins led just 16-9 as the 49ers drove to the Washington 22 with 1:03 left in the first half. That’s when Pierce stepped into the picture and into the path of 49ers quarterback Ken Dorsey’s pass for receiver Cedric Wilson.

Pierce not only made his third career interception but, thanks in part to linebacker Chris Clemons’ crunching block on Dorsey, he scored.

“I didn’t know who was chasing me, but I got some great blocks,” Pierce said. “We start practice sometimes with interception drills and scoring, so everybody knows we need to get to the [sideline] and everybody has to make a block. It worked out perfectly that time.”

Taylor’s team-leading fourth interception didn’t work out as perfectly. After the 49ers had matched the Redskins’ opening touchdown drive, Taylor picked off Dorsey’s bomb for Wilson at the Washington 16 and raced upfield with 2:53 left in the first quarter.

Knowing he was about to be tackled by linemen Brock Gutierrez and Kyle Kosier, Taylor shoveled the ball to Lemar Marshall. The linebacker took it the rest of the way to the end zone, but after review the ball was brought back to the Washington 41 because of a forward lateral.

“I saw Sean fumbling like he wanted to pitch it and I was like, ‘I’m right here,’ and hopefully he could see who was behind me so he could make a great pitch,” Marshall said. “I started reaching my hands out, and he gave me the ball.”

Nine plays later, Chandler converted from 49 yards to put the Redskins ahead to stay at 10-7.

Warner was an All-Big 12 linebacker at Kansas in 1997, but he said the interception with 7:21 left in the half was his first since high school.

On second-and-3 at the San Francisco 44, blitzing linebacker Marcus Washington hit Dorsey, popping the pass into the arms of Warner. He chugged 39 yards to the 9 before being dragged down by Kwame Harris. Four plays later, Chandler kicked a 20-yard field goal.

“It looked like a big, huge ball,” Warner said. “I just went up to get it, concentrated on the ball and it when it came into my hands, I took off. I just knew I was going to score, but somebody grabbed my leg and tackled me. I just wanted to make sure I held onto the ball.”

So did Harris with 2:34 remaining at the San Francisco 47, allowing the Redskins the sweetness of running out the clock.

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