OAKLAND, Calif. – A dominant defensive performance helped the Washington Redskins head into their bye finally feeling good about themselves.
After three straight losses to open the season, the Redskins got a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown from David Amerson and sacked Matt Flynn seven times to beat the banged-up Oakland Raiders 24-14 Sunday.
"Guys will be able to enjoy their bye week a little bit more after this win," quarterback Robert Griffin III said. "'And then we come back and we've got to get on a winning streak to get back to where we want to be."
That's especially true for a defensive unit that allowed 1,464 yards of offense through three games — the most through a team's first three games since the 1951 New York Yanks gave up 1,494, according to STATS. The Yanks folded after that season.
Taking advantage of a Raiders team that was without starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor the whole way, and running backs Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece for much of the game, the Redskins teed off on the stationary Flynn.
"I think at first we were trying to get a feel for how they're protecting and then we figured them out," defensive end Stephen Bowen said. "They couldn't pick up any stunts, they didn't know what we were doing. I think we just had them totally confused."
Here are five things to know from Washington's first win of the season:
RESILIENT REDSKINS: Washington fell behind 14-0 after the opening quarter, allowing a blocked punt for a score and a TD drive by Flynn. Instead of folding, the Redskins responded by scoring the final 24 points of the game — marking just the second time since at least 1991 that they rallied to win a road game when trailing by at least 14 points after the first quarter.
"We got a lot of brothers on this team and everybody sticks together, and that's what we did when we were down 14-0, and that's what we've got to do the rest of the season," Griffin said.
FLUSTERED FLYNN: Flynn didn't find out he was making his third career start until late Saturday night when coach Dennis Allen and the medical staff determined Pryor had not completely recovered from the concussion he sustained Monday night in Denver. Flynn got most of the first-team work in practice during the week but looked skittish in the pocket, holding the ball too long and getting sacked more times than any Raiders quarterback since 2006.
"I don't think he saw the field very good today," Allen said. "He was part of some of the sacks that we gave up. It was a tough situation for him to go into it."
HIGH-FLYING HELU: Roy Helu Jr. delivered the two biggest offensive plays of the game for the Redskins after Washington forced a fumble on its seventh sack of the game. With the Redskins leading by three points, Helu took a short pass from Griffin and gained 28 yards, capping the play by leaping over an Oakland defender. He ran it in from 14 yards out on the next play to make it 24-14. Helu was only in the game because starter Alfred Morris bruised his ribs earlier in the second half.
"You want to see guys come in and do a good job when they're asked to come in in those situations," coach Mike Shanahan said.
JOLT FROM JENNINGS: Backup running back Rashad Jennings provided one of the few bright spots for Oakland. He blocked a punt that led to a touchdown in the first quarter and got extensive work when McFadden and Reece got hurt. Jennings carried the ball for 45 yards on 15 carries and caught eight passes for 71 yards.
"Whenever the team calls upon you, wherever you need someone in the game, that's when as a player you're excited to go in," Jennings said.
DISMAL DIVISION: Despite getting off to the worst start for the franchise in 12 years, the Redskins are still right in the thick of the NFC East race. With the other three teams in the division losing to AFC West foes Sunday, the Redskins are tied for second in the division with Philadelphia — just one game behind Dallas. The Cowboys and Redskins are the only teams in the NFC East to win a game out of the division, with Dallas winning at St. Louis last week.
"With everyone losing in the division you feel like you might gain a little bit of momentum, but we can't worry about that," Shanahan said. "We have to worry about ourselves."
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