I'll start by saying that I like the way our special teams played yesterday. I thought we had great enthusiasm and fire. Obviously, we were very much concerned about Banks, the return man. He is a real threat and he is relied on heavily to create field position or points for the Washington team. He was very much on our minds. We adjusted the type of the kicks that we made when we kicked off to him with the distance kicks and the mortar kicks. There was one missed kick in there that was also a part of the plan but wasn't called for at the time. I thought we, for the most part, did a good job with our kickoff coverage unit but not so well with our punt coverage unit. We were a little bit inconsistent with our punts and we had a couple of punts where we didn't have the hang time that you would like. He did have a 19-yard return and you can see why the concern is there when he went to the big field with the ball and it didn't appear we had a lot of people in position there, but Deon Grant was able to force him out of bounds. I thought that with our punt rush unit, we did a nice job with Devin Thomas getting the blocked punt late in the game in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, if Aaron Ross would have been able to handle that, I think we could've scored there. Nevertheless, we did get the ball in ideal field position and added a field goal as a result of that. Our first kickoff return was a good one with Dan Ware, and I thought that was outstanding field position. The fact we were able to take that down and capitalize with a long run and then a touchdown there really helped. It was, I thought, a good effort and there were some outstanding tackles. Brian Jackson had an outstanding tackle, Deon Grant had an outstanding tackle on kickoff coverage. Devin Thomas had a real nice tackle and also the blocked punt, which was outstanding. I was pleased with that.
I think that we rushed the ball for a lot of yards, obviously, and we had a more productive first half than we did a second half although the idea of the 21-0 and then 28-0 lead, we did have some very timely throws. I thought the pass in the second half Eli to Mario Manningham in what we call a deep-Q route was outstanding. That was done well. Although there was wind, both teams did have the ability to throw the ball when called upon.
Our defense did an outstanding job of turning the ball over, I thought that was the huge difference in the game from that standpoint. We had plus-five, which was really a breakout game for us in terms of that. We did have the one turnover on offense, but we did come up with several created fumbles and were able to recover the ball. We were able to make the one outstanding interception with Terrell Thomas making the play in the end zone after they had driven the ball down there, which stopped the drive. The one drive after we went up 28-0 in which they traveled the length of the field and scored in a very short amount of time was an area that did bother us, and the fact that they did have some yardage. There was a 20-yard run in that last drive, and they ended up rushing the ball on the day for 74 yards. They did have success with their passing game, and their one pass for the touchdown to Armstrong was something that we should've been able to defend but did not get ourselves in position with that. They blocked the tight end up and really threw a two receiver route, which ended up being a score there.
Overall, we were pleased, as I said yesterday, to get our second win in the division and our eighth win overall and to be able to keep the pace within our division.
Q: Do you need to remind your players about last year's Minnesota game? Have you?
A: They're very well aware of it. We mentioned it at the conclusion of our postgame comments with the team last night. They're very well aware of it. That will not prevent us from making sure that they do have a very good recollection of how we've gone in there the last couple of times we've played there.
Q: How difficult is it to prepare knowing how different the two quarterbacks (Favre vs. Jackson) are?
A: Well that'll cause some time to be spent in the preparation end and in practice time preparing for both quarterbacks. As the week unfolds, we'll have to do some things which will specialize or be more specific as far as which player we anticipate starting. We are just getting into the study of the Minnesota situation. We'll certainly take full awareness of what the similarities are and then what the differences are.
Q: Is Brandon suffering from any minor injury?
Q: Why did he only have eight carries. Any particular reason other than physical?
A: No. There was no physical reason, either. It just worked out that way.
Q: Is the pressure to win and keep pace daunting or good for your team?
A: No, I just think it's reality and it is what it is. We're very aware of it, and in order to keep pace with the way in which it's going and unfolding, you have to keep winning. You have to put yourself in that position. There isn't any doubt in anybody's minds that when we come to work in the exciting time of the year that it is, and it's exciting because when you win, you give yourself another opportunity and that's what you're trying to do is trying to create an opportunity for your team to be in position.
Q: What was your reaction on the London Fletcher kicked ball when Washington was thinking about challenging?
A: My reaction was, like everyone else's, that's a penalty. I haven't had a chance to discuss it with anyone else, but the ball was put in play. This is something I need to clarify for my own standpoint is that the ball is put into play, and then there is a penalty and it's a penalty of delay of game on defense in which the ball is kicked then followed up by a challenge. Once the ball's in play, you're supposed to allow that the offensive team can put the ball in play which we were prepared to do and then the ball was kicked. I need, as well as everybody else, to have some kind of verification on that as to our interpretation that until the ball is snapped, the team does have the right to challenge. This is a little bit unusual in that all is cleared to play and we're prepared to go, what's the exception of a delay of game defensive penalty by the ball being kicked? So, my thoughts were that we were not allowed to snap the ball when the ball was cleared to play.
Q: How do you feel about the schedule this year and playing so many divisional opponents at the end of the season?
A: Well, however I feel about it, I know exactly what the intent was and you do as well and the commissioner certainly has accomplished that - playing within the division and I don't care what division you're in, it seems to be that striking distance is there for teams in divisions all throughout the league, so there isn't any question that what has been accomplished was a direct objective of the commissioner and he has done that. He has accomplished that.
Q: Does it help your team to know that every week is a must win?
A: You know that anyway. It's December. You've got to be in a position where your team understands completely that you have to win. You've got to continue to win. You've got to be in that spot if you're going to have a chance?
Q: Status of Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith?
A: I don't know that Hakeem has been looked at since he was looked at on Wednesday and things were going very well for him and I know that he is going to start to run - I don't know if that means he's going to be able to practice. That hasn't been stated, but Steve will continue to practice and hopefully we'll be able to move him along.
Q: Did the stitches come out of Hakeem's leg yet?
A: To my knowledge, no, not yet, but the doctor wasn't concerned about that. The kind of stitching that was done, he can go ahead and run with them, with the stitches in.
Q: Diehl or O'Hara back this week?
A: I think that we're going to have Dave Diehl practice, just like we did last week, and advance him along and we'll have to see how that goes. Shaun, I'm not sure about.
Q: Shawn Andrews?
A: There has been improvement, but, again, I'm not sure what the status will be Wednesday. He's got two full days of treatment and then we'll see, but there is some improvement.
Q: Any injuries on Sunday?
A: We've got some soreness and the normal things that you get, but I don't think that at this time I would mention it - any of them - and we'll just see what Wednesday brings.
Q: Were you cheering for the Cowboys last night?
A: I didn't see much of that game at all - just the very end of it - so I didn't get a chance to root for anybody.
Q: Talk about the versatility Terrell Thomas showed yesterday - he seemed to float around a lot.
A: He wasn't doing a lot of floating around. There were times when he was matched up or whatever based on the coverage, but he is a versatile player and he can play inside and he can play outside and he put himself in position, played a very good game once again and I'm hoping that this continues to build.
Q: Was that a blown coverage on the Redskins touchdown?
A: There were some communication issues. We should have had some people back there. It didn't happen and I'm not exactly sure just now what the follow-up was, but we should have been in position to play it.
Q: Did you ever think of moving Bear to fullback full time at training camp?
A: Well, no. Just like that's not really the case right now - it's a tribute to his versatility that he's been able to play at first just to fill in at that spot and now literally to be able to play the second tight end spot or the fullback spot depending on what the play or the personnel combination calls for, so he has proven versatility and I will say this again, that is because his attitude is tremendous, his work ethic is outstanding and he will do whatever you ask him to do and he does do it with all of his effort and energy and he does it to the best of his ability, so he is a guy that just goes out and doesn't get a lot of attention, just does his job, but in the long run does it very well.
Q: A lot of backups are coming up and contributing this season. Why?
A: Well, first of all they have the ability or capacity, they have the desire, they've come upon opportunity and they've made the best of it. They've done this to the best of their ability and the timing has been good as well.
Q: What about your team makes you feel good about this stretch coming up?
A: I think we're playing - what we've learned about our team is that we have a number of guys who have got outstanding hearts, outstanding attitudes and they give outstanding effort and whatever we've asked them to do, they've done it and they've tried to do it to the best of their ability. It's not perfect, but we're getting some things accomplished and we're growing in that we've won a couple of games, we are in December - it is a critical time of the year - and more people are responding and when they are called upon, they have performed. We also have the timing of keeping a couple of guys for example, the left side offensive linemen right now, Kevin Boothe, Will Beatty, were serious injuries that were kept on the active roster and no matter whether that was questioned or not, the timing of those things has worked out well as we've run into difficulty with other people at other positions, these two guys have gotten healthier and whether they were fully prepared to go do it or not, they've done it because they had to and I think that speaks well for them. We've been able to bring a couple of guys in here - Derek Hagan, for example, who was not with any team, but had been here and had known the system and he came back and he showed right away how anxious he was and how deserving and desiring he was of coming back and being a part of it again and how fast he was able to get in the mix. Michael Clayton came and was literally signed on a Tuesday or a Monday and was right back in the mix. He went right away and was called upon with responsibilities that week and was able to go ahead and contribute. Devin Thomas did the same thing this past weekend in a big way - was called upon to contribute and did, so some of these guys have had opportunities and of course they have made the best of those opportunities.