One of the prevailing pieces of information to come out of Sunday’s 16-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was that, despite being booed on their way to the locker room at the beginning of halftime by the hometown crowd, the Redskins did not take an emotional “Rah! Rah!” approach, but rather a calm, focused and strategic approach on trying to achieve what they weren’t able to accomplish in the first half. All this, while trailing 10-0 to an 0-3 team that wasn’t even supposed to have a lead in the game, let alone a double digit advantage after two quarters.
“Staying calm is a state a mind. There were no negative thoughts. We believed in each other and accomplished our goal. Sunday was a testament to what men we have on the team: men who care and believe,” said Redskins defensive end Andre Carter.
“We had faith in each other and faith in winning. Nobody was on their tiptoes during halftime. We made our adjustments and finished the game.”
With the next two games coming against opponents with a combined record of 0-7, it is imperative that the team maintain that same focus and drive because at this point in the season because, as the loss in Detroit proves, a winless team is as dangerous as an undefeated team.
This weekend, the Redskins are facing another 0-3 NFC South foe in the form of the Carolina Panthers, who were one of four teams with a bye week on Sunday.
“Teams coming off a bye week are really dangerous because they can come out the gate swinging and you know what really has hit you. It’s important that we are well rested and prepare ourselves mentally and physically,” Carter said.
Carolina was surprisingly eliminated from the Divisional Playoffs in January by the eventual NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals and the disappointment was due in large part to quarterback Jake Delhomme, who threw five interceptions that night. Delhomme is one of several underachieving offensive weapons that the Panthers have on their roster. The team also has fiery wide receiver Steve Smith and fellow wideout Muhsin Muhammad.
Unquestionably, the unit that made the Panthers tick down the stretch of the 2008 season was their running game, led by DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. That is the top unit Carter and the rest of their defense will have their sights set on this Sunday in Charlotte.
“The first thing that comes to mind is controlling the edge on the run. The Panthers have had a great outside run game,” he said.
“Carolina has always been a tough opponent each time I have played them. [They are] physical at the point of attack and can run the ball on the edges. I have had good battles against them.”
Considering the talent the Panthers have on both sides of the ball, it makes it that much more surprising that the reigning NFC South Champions have continued their postseason slide into the 2009 regular season with a winless start through four weeks.
“Any team can start fast and any team can start slow. Take us for example. We are a talented team; however we are not 4-0. It’s due to our performance these past few games. So it shows people, it can happen to any team,” Carter said.
Containing the speedy Williams and strong sophomore Stewart will be a mighty task but luckily for the Redskins, they own the defense tied for fourth in the league in points allowed per game and fifth in total points allowed this season, which is something for the whole team to hang their hats on.
The Redskins were able to hold agile Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson to 106 yards through the air so the secondary should have a banner day against the not-so-mobile Delhomme, who already has seven interceptions to his name through three games this season.
The fact that the Redskins were able to correct their mistakes and pull out a victory amidst adversity and plenty of criticism last week proved a lot. This Sunday, the challenge will be made even harder due to the fact that they’re on the road.
“In life, everyone is a critic; family, friends, associates, etc. The important thing is how you handle adversity. We have 16 games to do something amazing. Time in this business is short so let’s take advantage of it before it runs out.”
Under the Helmet:
THN: Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom from the Washington Capitals were at the Tampa Bay game. Who is the most famous athlete/entertainer/celebrity you’ve ever met before?
AC: I met Jim Brown at my church this past off season. Great guy and a good speaker.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Jake Russell