From the outset, the Redskins' defense rose above expectations. More impressively, they established an identity as a group of lunch-pail type of players who would do whatever it took to shut down opposing offenses.
More often than not, they succeeded.
The NFL released their defensive rankings on Monday and the Redskins defense finished the season ranked third overall in yardage allowed and first in the NFC.
Following Sunday's games, Pittsburgh was ranked No. 1, followed by Buffalo. On the season, the Steelers' defense gave up 4,134 yards and Buffalo gave up 4,228 yards. The Redskins were third with 4,281 yards, or 267.5 yards per game.
Most of the season, the Redskins' defense was ranked either first, second or third, a remarkable record of consistency.
"It was a fun season in respect to this defense being an overachieving defense," assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said. "The thing we did well was that we didn't have any superstars. We don't coach superstars, we coach players. We coach teams, and our guys bought into that."
Williams' aggressive unit exceeded some of the Redskins' defenses of the last few years, including Ray Rhodes' group that finished fourth overall in 2000 and Marvin Lewis's defense that was fifth overall in 2003.
In addition, Shawn Springs wrapped up an impressive first season in Washington by leading the defense with five interceptions and six sacks. (He actually tied with defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin for the team lead in sacks.)
Springs is one of only three players in NFL history to lead a team in sacks and interceptions in the same season. The other two players to accomplish the feat were Junior Seau in 1997 with the San Diego Chargers and Joey Porter in 2002 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. (The NFL started recording sacks in 1982.)