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Defense Capitalizing On Interception Chances


Ever since Jim Zorn staged a drill out behind Redskins Park to call attention to muffed interception chances, the pick has been back in the Redskins' game.


Remember opening night at the Meadowlands, just one month ago? Fred Smoot intercepted Eli Manning but Washington's defense botched three other possibilities.

So the following week, after a practice at Redskins Park, the defensive backs gathered at midfield to catch a series of rapid-fire passes from quarterbacks.

Subsequently, the Redskins seem to be more alert when it comes to picking off passes.

Rookie Chris Horton had two such thefts in the 29-24 win over New Orleans. A week later, Carlos Rogers turned the game around with a diving interception in a 24-17 win versus Arizona.

Horton was at it again in Sunday's 26-24 win at Dallas. He intercepted Tony Romo late in the third quarter to stymie a Cowboys drive.

For whatever reason, interceptions were tough to come by the last few years under former defensive coach Gregg Williams. It wasn't for lack of trying, certainly. Coaches and players spent time doing interception drills in practice.

This year, the emphasis appears to finally be paying off.

Turnovers are change agents in a game and the Redskins know they need to grab those opportunities when they come their way, defensive coordinator Greg Blache said.

"If we don't, then we'll be flirting with disaster," Blache said. "It's rare when quality quarterbacks give you that opportunity."

In leading the Redskins' offense, Jason Campbell has been without an interception so far, a remarkable feat through four games.

Campbell's counterpart this Sunday is Donovan McNabb, who has thrown two picks in the early going.

Rogers has taken the most grief--from coaches, teammates and fans alike--for his dropped interceptions over the years.

The day after the Arizona game, Rogers watched his interception, on a ball tipped by Leigh Torrence, on ESPN at least a dozen times.

"I remember coming over the top of Larry Fitzgerald and running straight to the middle of the field," Rogers noted. "The next thing you know, the ball popped up in the air and I caught it."

The fourth-year cornerback, who is coming off a serious knee injury, added: "After dropping so many passes, being able to catch one in the key moment of the game was great. I was just happy to be out there competing, after going through so much being injured."

Last year, the Redskins intercepted 14 passes, less than Dallas (19) and the Giants (15) but more than Philadelphia (11) among NFC East clubs.

Washington has five picks after four games so far in 2008. Horton has three of those.

Certainly, Greg Blache hopes one or more of his players can watch an interception on ESPN every Monday morning.

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