Then they played like it, creating turnovers and opportunities for the offense. And, when it mattered most, they prevented a game-tying touchdown by the Eagles on the game’s final play.
Corner Fred Smoot and safety LaRon Landry combined to hit receiver Reggie Brown at the goal line and keep him from falling into the end zone.
"Oh, man, that was awesome defense today," Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said. "That was some dominating defense. That was a top-five defense right there. We had a lot of guys step up and make plays."
Not that it could save their season. Washington was eliminated courtesy of Atlanta’s win over Minnesota.
"I’m sure it will be [bittersweet]," Redskins guard Pete Kendall said, "but right now we’re trying to enjoy the fact that we won a game. As we’ve demonstrated, that’s hard to do in this league."
Smoot and Landry both read the play well. Smoot saw Brown break free and plant himself at the goal line. Landry read quarterback Donovan McNabb’s shoulders and when he turned in Brown’s direction, Landry broke.
"I just broke on the ball and made a great play," Landry said. "That’s what I’m supposed to do out there."
He and Smoot kept the play to 17 and three-quarters yards when 18 was needed.
"I saw him from the right corner and took off running," said Smoot, who hit Brown in the legs as he caught the ball. "We say we’re one of the best secondaries in the league, them are the plays we have to make."
Defensive end Jason Taylor’s third-quarter sack caused McNabb to fumble. Linebacker London Fletcher picked it up and returned it 12 yards to the Eagles’ 18.
Five plays later running back Clinton Portis scored his first touchdown since Oct. 19, a one-yard run for a 10-0 lead.
Earlier in the game Shaun Suisham had provided Washington a 3-0 lead with a 33-yard field goal.
Philadelphia made it 10-3 when Westbrook set up a 22-yard David Akers field goal with a 47-yard catch and run. The Redskins blew the coverage on the play, leaving Lorenzo Alexander the only defender around him. There were supposed to be two others involved in the play on that side of the field. They weren’t there. Corner DeAngelo Hall chased down Westbrook at the 12-yard line.
The win likely eases speculation on coach Jim Zorn’s job. There was a general relief in the locker room as a three-game skid ended, both overall and at home.
"The past several weeks have been really frustrating," Zorn said. "and we continue to build." Last week was a real downer so you can’t describe the emotion of toughing it out and coming through with a win. The emotions finally came out.
"We’re playing hard and once we start putting in the confidence factor, we’re going to continue to get better. A win like today adds to that. That’s what I’m most excited about."