ASHBURN – Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had yet to break a sweat Thursday night when Redskin outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan bull-rushed through the Bills’ right tackle and leveled the QB to the turf on the very first play of the game – a great start to an eventual 7-6 victory for the ‘Skins.
Minutes later, Washington’s second-year-stud was at it again. Kerrigan slammed his foot on the gas pedal, broke through the line and batted away an attempted pass. He would later tackle a Buffalo running back for a loss. That is one heck of a game for most. But the second-year Redskin accomplished it all in less than one quarter.
Meanwhile, Brian Orakpo kept Buffalo’s blind-side busy as he throttled through the trenches in demand of the Bills’ QB.
Buffalo had no answer. The linemen could not contain the Pro-Bowler. So instead they played tug-of-war with his jersey, strangled his neck, and wrenched his head in Full-Nelsons.
With no help from the “replacement refs” (who made a mockery of the occupation) Orakpo still wreaked havoc on Fitzpatrick throughout his entire stint on the field. The momentum of the Redskin defensive tandem flowed through Washington’s roster and knocked the Bills off-kilter. This led to a plethora of false-start and illegal motion penalties Buffalo would struggle with all night.
Yet ‘Rak’ and Kerrigan were not alone in flustering the Buffalo offense. The Redskins’ front-seven proved extremely daunting all the way down the depth chart; Rob Jackson, Lorenzo Alexander, Kedric Golston, Chris Neild and rookie Keenan Robinson all made contributions via tackles and/or sacks (4). Yet it was Chris Wilson, brought back to Washington this off-season for a second stint with the Redskins, who threw himself a ‘welcome back party,’ pummeling his way into the Bills’ backfield during the second half, time and time again.
Even when Washington’s luck turned, Kerrigan and company saved the day. Robert Griffin’s single gaffe of the night – a fumble caused by a poor exchange on a hand-off to Evan Royster – resulted in just minimal damage. Subsequently, the Bills recovered the football near Washington’s red zone. Now, in years past the Redskins would have folded like origami and invited Buffalo to waltz-on-in for six points. This night however, the Redskin defense denied its opponent any opportunity into the end zone and instead allowed just three points off the turnover… and only six points on the night. Not bad.
Yes, I know. It’s only pre-season and way too early to get overzealous… but this was not last year’s Redskin team. This team communicated, stayed consistent and had fun playing football. And that is one giant step in the right direction. Hail ‘Skins.
-Todd C. Smith
You can follow Todd C. Smith on Twitter @tcsmitty