Redskins' Top Five Defensive Plays of 2008

Ryan NotermanCorrespondent IMay 30, 2009

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 23: London Fletcher #59 of the Washington Redskins leads the huddle during the game against the Seattle Seahawks on November 23, 2008 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

It is not only the offense that has to be able to come up with the great calls every down. The defense has to carry it's weight as well.

Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache handles the formations and play calls for the defense.

One thing that Blache does great, he puts a great defense on the field (ranked fourth in total defense in 2008) though the defense does not put up outstanding stats.

It doesn't bother Blache that his team ranked 28th in sacks with only 24 in 2008.

The defense has one job. That is to stop the opposing offense with tough physical play. If sacks and turnovers result from that, then all the better.

When the Redskins defense is on, it is tough to beat them.

Here are five defensive plays that lead to the Redskins offense putting points on the  board.

Week 16 - Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins

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The Eagles had the ball with 11:37 left on the clock in the third quarter, and the Redskins held a 3-0 lead.

The Eagles lined up in a Shotgun Single-back Bunch formation set on third down and three on their own 30-yard line. The Redskins' defense were lined up in a 4-3 nickel and a deep safety.

When the ball was snapped, Andre Carter came on a stunt while the other three down linemen rushed. London Fletcher took the running back coming out of the backfield along with H.B. Blades.

Jason Taylor was able to get around the tackle to sack Donovon McNabb and force the fumble that was recovered by Fletcher and taken down to Philadelphia's 18-yard line.

Less than three minutes later, Clinton Portis would pound the ball into the end zone from one yard out to extend the Redskins lead to 10-0.

The Redskins won the game 10-3.

Week Nine - Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Washington Redskins

The Redskins lead the game 3-0 after a failed attempt at a surprise onside kick by Steelers Jeff Reed to begin the game.

The Steelers were at their own 30-yard line, facing a third down and ten. They lined up in a Shotgun Single-back Trips left formation.

The Redskins ran a 4-3 Zone Blitz with Corneileus Griffin dropping into coverage and brought H.B. Blades on a blitz off the left side.

Pressure came quick as Ben Roethlisberger threw over the middle towards Santonio Holmes, but the ball was tipped at the line by Andre Carter and then intercepted by Griffin.

The ball was placed at Pittsburgh 30-yard line and the Redskins converted on a field goal attempt to lead 6-0. The Redskins ended up losing 23-6.

Week Three - Arizona Cardinals vs. Washington Redskins

With the score tied in the fourth quarter at 17-17 and 13:07 on the clock, the Cardinals lined up in Shotgun Twins Right formation. Meanwhile, the Redskins set up in a Cover 2 dropping the safeties deep and bringing Rocky McIntosh off the right side of the line for a blitz.

Kurt Warner had great blocking from his offensive line as he saw little pressure. Still, he threw the ball very quickly and with a little loft over the middle. The ball was tipped in the air by Lee Torrence and intercepted by Carlos Rogers at Washington's 43-yard line.

What makes this play great was the blocking set up by the defense in order for Rodgers to run the ball back to Arizona's 15-yard line.

Two plays later, the Redskins ran a screen to Santana Moss for a touchdown and the lead, 24-17 which ended up being the final score.

Week Four - Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys

This was the final time that Washington would be playing at Dallas Stadium and at the point of the play, there was 18 seconds left in the third quarter. Dallas had the ball at their own 37-yard line with a first down and ten.

The Redskins were on top 20-17.

Dallas was in the I-formation twins right. Washington lined up with a 4-3 and had four safeties on the field.

The Redskins had been running double coverage on Terrell Owens, while cutting underneath the other wide-outs to take away the quick underneath pass.

Tony Romo took the snap and fired quickly out to Miles Austin on the right flat. The cornerback Lee Torrence was playing way off the line and protecting against the deep pass which baited Romo into throwing the ball.

Since Horton had been running underneath all day, this was an easy pick for him. The Redskins offense turned the interception into three points to take 23-17 lead and ended up winning 26-24.

Week Two - New Orleans Saints vs. Washington Redskins

The play happened late in the first quarter with the Redskins leading 3-0.

The Saints were on a second down and thirteen while the Saints were lined up in Shotgun formation with three receivers split out wide. The Redskins were in the 4-3 with zone coverage.

Only four rushed the quarterback putting pressure on Drew Brees to make a very accurate pass.

The pass was intended for Jermey Shockey and the ball was tipped by Fred Smoot, landing in the hands of Chris Horton.

What made this play work was the tight passing lanes the Redskins created by running that zone. Brees never took his eyes off Shockey which led Smoot to jump the pass and be able to get a hand on it.

The defensive stop allowed the Redskins to get three more points and a 6-0 lead. The Redskins won the game 29-24.

Basically, the 4-3 is what the defense is all about. The play calls all depend on the team they are playing that week.

The Redskins will also have plenty of help with Brain Orakpo coming in as a rookie rushing the passer and Albert Haynesworth creating chaos in the middle. The Redskins have shown that they can get to the passer as in week 16 against the Eagles and can play great coverage like in week four against the Cowboys.

The defense shows that they can create havoc and confusion. Now it is the offense that needs to convert every turnover to a touchdown for the Redskins to be successful in 2009.

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