In their preparations leading up to what soon became a 31-point victory at FedExField over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Washington Redskin defensive unit continually hammered home the importance of generating a quality pass rush.
At final whistle of the Redskins' 41-10 victory on Sunday, the Redskins had tied the franchise record for sacks in game with 10.
Four of those sacks came from linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, which also tied the record for most sacks by a Redskin in a single game.
The former first-round pick said the defense kept finding favorable matchups, and attacked with force when opportunities presented themselves.
"We liked our matchups upfront," he said. "We feel with the pass-rush that we have [with] guys like Hatch [defensive end Jason Hatcher], 'Rak [linebacker Brian Orakpo], myself, [linebacker] Trent [Murphy], we feel like we can win a lot of one-on-one matchups in this league and that's what it comes down to – guys beating blockers and getting to the quarterback."
The heavy dosage of pressure on Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne kept their offense off-kilter all afternoon, as they recorded less than 150 yards of total offense.
"When we started racking up those sacks in the first half, we kind of thought this was going to be a good day for us," Kerrigan said. "When the offense was moving the ball like they were and we were getting off the field on third down, we knew this was going to be a great win for the Redskins."
Playing with an edge, Hatcher – who recorded 1.5 sacks – said the entire team knew that getting to .500 on the season was important with the first NFC East test looming next weekend vs. Philadelphia.
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"We took the approach of coming into this thing, putting it on our shoulders as a must win – because it was," he said. "We didn't want to get 0-2 behind the 8-ball. So, we just kind of bought in as a team.
"We didn't come out trying to set records. We just played sound, fundamentally on defense."
Inside linebacker Perry Riley Jr. – who logged a career-high 1.5 sacks – said the defense forcing the Jaguars into four straight three-and-outs let guys feel more comfortable against a versatile Jaguar offense.
"It's so important because it sets up the tempo for the game," Riley Jr. said of playing with a high level of confidence. "Going three-and-out, offense driving, their defense getting tired, their offense can't get a rhythm, we're staying fresh -- it sets up momentum for the rest of the game.
"We were able to continue it for the rest of the game. I think we only played like 45 snaps on defense…[which] kept us fresh."
Also recording a sack was veteran defensive lineman Frank Kearse.
Playing in his first regular season game for the Redskins, Kearse said he was "seeing some things" out of the Jaguars' offense that allowed for him to attack up the middle.
"They were really focusing on Hatch, and I saw what they were trying to do earlier in the game," he said. "The center was sliding over and overcommitting to Hatch, and I had the one-on-one, and I won the battle."
His first sack since Week 14 of the 2013 regular season, Kearse said he couldn't miss on the chance to record another takedown, especially with so many of his teammates getting in on the action.
"It felt great to get that sack," he said. "I saw everyone else getting a sack, and I just wanted to get in on the party."
Also recording his first sack of the season was Orakpo, who was coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he recorded 10 sacks.
Orakpo said he heard the chatter all week of the Redskins being unable to record a sack against the Houston Texans, and used it as motivation.
"We just had to make up for last week," he said. "We was mad because they took away Hatch's sack last week, so we had to come in here, pin our ears back and let's roll."
Keenan Robinson, who recorded half a sack along with safety Ryan Clark, said performances like today remind him of how fun football can be when everything is clicking.
"It was a really fun game, especially for the front seven," he said. "We were out there and dominated the line of scrimmage each and every play and that's how we expect to win the rest of the games this year."
Kerrigan echoed that sentiment.
"This was definitely one of the most fun days I've had playing defense," he said. "It was a great day for all of us. We had 10 sacks. That's unbelievable."