- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 18, 2011

It took some jelling, but the Redskins’ secondary was just starting to look comfortable without LaRon Landry during Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. Reed Doughty was proving to be more than a capable fill-in at strong safety, and the defense was cruising along.

Then starting cornerback Josh Wilson’s head awkwardly hit Arizona running back Beanie Wells, knocking him out with a back injury. Soon after, replacement Kevin Barnes had to leave the game with cramps.

For a while, it meant Byron Westbrook and Brandyn Thompson getting picked apart by the Arizona offense. But at the end of the game, Westbrook’s forced fumble with 1:45 left sealed the victory.

“As far as backup cornerbacks — me, KB, Brandyn Thompson — when those guys go down, we have to be prepared,” Westbrook said. “We’re not just at practice and or in the meeting room not paying attention. When one guy goes down, we have to make sure that we can stay at his level or higher.”

During the first drive featuring Westbrook and Thompson, quarterback Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals marched 90 yards down the field with little resistance. Both players said it wasn’t a matter of giving extra cushion to receivers, but the secondary struggled nonetheless.

But when the Redskins’ defense needed a big play to hold on at 22-21, Westbrook stripped Chansi Stuckey and Doughty recovered the fumble to allow the offense to run out the clock.

“When the guy caught the ball, he didn’t see me behind him, so I just went and took a swipe and the ball came out,” Westbrook said. “Game over.”

It was a bit of validation for the backup cornerbacks, especially after a less-than-stellar second half.

“You’re proud because that’s the reason we won the game right there,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “Everybody stepped up, man. When the guy’s number was called, he went out there and he made the play.”

Big-play Davis

In Week 1, Fred Davis put up his best game in the NFL by going over 100 yards and presenting Rex Grossman with a deep threat from the tight end position. In Week 2, Davis quietly finished with 86 yards — and his two big catches on the game-winning drive stood out.

Davis caught a 15-yard pass to start it off and a 4-yarder on the next play. The defense had to focus on Davis from then on, opening up the rest of the targets.

“You’re not going to get big plays all the time,” Davis said. “Those catches are kind of harder than the big ones, actually, because they know what’s going on and they got a guy on your back and you’ve got to make that catch.”

Defense bounces back

It didn’t take much for Kolb to suck the air out of FedEx Field — just a 73-yard touchdown pass to All-Pro wideout Larry Fitzgerald. But defensive captain and middle linebacker London Fletcher stressed that, with 11:09 on the clock, it wasn’t cataclysmic.

“There was a lot of time left in the ballgame,” he said. “There was no panic on our sidelines.”

The next time out, the Redskins’ defense forced a three-and-out, setting up the game-winning drive.

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