Washington Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield told the media he would never use his broken, clubbed hand as an excuse for poor play early in the season.
But as soon as the clubbed bandages and support were removed, Cofield exploded for his first career two-sack performance vs. the Oakland Raiders last Sunday, adding in his first fumble recovery of the year.
After the game, he confirmed what most Redskins fans and coaches had already observed: it's hard to play effectively with one hand tied behind your back.
"The first sack I was able to hang onto him, he was trying to get away," he told CSNWashington after the game. "If I had that club on there is no way I would have been able to make that, one so it was a great feeling.
"I didn't use the club as an excuse—it's no excuse. But it's great to get a couple of fingers in there. Hopefully we can use this win to get the ball rolling and create some momentum."
Cofield was one of three Redskins with two sacks on the day, joining outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo with a pair.
The last time the Redskins had three different players register at least two sacks in a single game was on Dec. 19, 1993 vs. Atlanta (Monte Coleman, Al Noga and Sterling Palmer).
With Darryl Tapp's first sack as a member of the Redskins, the defense had seven sacks for the first time since Week 4, 2011, a span of 31 games.
Rookie cornerback David Amerson got the defense rolling with an interception returned 45 yards for a touchdown, but deflected much of the praise for the defensive dominance back to Cofield and Co. at the point of attack.
"That's when the secondary is at their best," Amerson said. "The quarterback is not sitting back there just chilling.
"He knows that there are guys in his face, he's getting hit left and right, it allows us to make plays."
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has been effusive in his praise of Cofield, who came to Washington from New York, where he was a 4-3 defensive tackle with the Giants.
"If a nose tackle gets two sacks in this league? That's outstanding," Haslett said. "Most noses don't play on third down. Barry plays on third down. His first game, with the cast on, he didn't play as well. But after that, he's been outstanding. He was exceptional last week.
"He's the reason everything goes."
Although Cofield doesn't get the national notoriety of some of the behemoth nose tackles in the NFL, Haslett argued that Cofield's smarts and athleticism make him the perfect fit.
"I think Barry is the best nose tackle in the league because he can do a little bit of everything," Haslett said. "He's good on the run, he's powerful, he's strong, he's a good pass-rusher. He's relentless. I think that combination makes him the best.
"He's not, maybe 350 pounds. He's 315, 316-17 pounds, but I think he's ideal for what we're doing with him."
Going into their only weekend off for the foreseeable future, Cofield knows the Redskins will need to be consistent coming out of the bye, especially against the archrival Dallas Cowboys in Week 6.
"We've got to build," he said. "We never got too low after those three disappointing performances, we're not going to get too high after this good performance. We're going to stay even-keeled and continue to play like we got something to prove.
"Now we're in a fight in the division instead of a fight for our lives and we're able to stay relevant and that's a great feeling. If we continue to keep that attitude we can get better week in and week out."