Kerrigan leads strong effort from Skins D

Kerrigan leads strong effort from Skins D
August 20, 2013, 2:00 pm
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Kerrigan breaks down juggling pick 6 TD

Injuries to Kirk Cousins and Barry Cofield became the major story from the Redskins 24-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday night, but lost along the way was a strong effort from Washington’s starting defense.

Preseason games are tough to evaluate, as starters at times are matched up against backups, but when both team’s first units were on the field the Skins defense performed well.

While Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed five of his six pass attempts, Big Ben accounted for just 66 yards. Skins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan intercepted Roethlisberger on a screen pass, which Kerrigan then took 22 yards for the games first touchdown.

“I was really proud of the way we played,” Kerrigan said after the game. “We only allowed two field goals in the first half and 13 points total. That’s a really good job by our defense.”

Kerrigan, along with defensive line mates Darryl Tapp, Kedric Golston and Cofield provided a strong push for the Skins and pressured Roethlisberger on most of his throws. Beyond his interception, Kerrigan also registered a sack and a forced fumble.

“That’s what he does, that’s what he does. Teams try to throw screens, good luck," Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall said of Kerrigan. “He’s going to get his hands on that ball. He knows how to catch it once it’s up in the air. That’s what he does, he scores touchdowns for us.” 

If Kerrigan’s preseason is any indication, he could be well on his way to an All-Pro season for the Redskins.

"He made a good play," Roethlisberger said of Kerrigan. "It happens sometimes, and it's unfortunate."

For much of the first quarter it seemed players along Washington’s defensive front were being held, and many penalty flags followed. The Steelers were flagged five times for 65 yards in the first 30 minutes.

But before Redskins fans get too excited about last night’s pass rush, remember that the Steelers offensive line ranked near the bottom of the league last season in allowing 30 sacks.

Still, the Redskins defense knows it needs to improve upon last year’s unit.

“Obviously we have a chip on our shoulder,” Hall said. “We didn’t play great last year.”

The Skins ranked No. 28 out of 32 teams in yards allowed per game, even if the unit did tighten up considerably during the late season run to the NFC East crown.

With question marks at safety and cornerback, an increased pass rush could make a big impact for Redskins defenders.

“It’s a majority passing league, so you definitely have to get after the quarterback to help relieve some of the pressure off the back end,” Golston said following the game.

Kerrigan, London Fletcher and company also looked strong against the run, limiting Steelers new prized rookie running back Le’Veon Bell to just nine yards on four carries before Bell left the game with a foot injury.

“We understand we have to stop the run, and we take a lot of pride in it,” Golston said. “We came in here with that mindset.”

Looking at just the first half statistics from last night’s game, the Steelers logged 11 first downs, but four of those came from Redskins penalties. On a successful night for the Redskins starters, the defensive front were the driving force.

“These guys hunting, these guys hunting man,” Hall said of the front seven. “And [Brian] Orakpo wasn’t even out there. We get our full repertoire out there, it’s going to be scary.”

 Injuries became the major story from the Redskins 24-13 win over the Steelers, but lost along the way was a strong effort from Washington’s starting D.