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Fletcher Steps Up, Solidifies Defense


Even in victory, even in an impressive individual performance, London Fletcher saw room for improvement.

That's how it is when you're the quarterback of the defense.

In the Redskins' 21-19 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Fletcher had a team-high 10 tackles and returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown in the first half.

After the game, Fletcher was disappointed that the defense had allowed the Cardinals to mount a fourth-quarter comeback led by Kurt Warner.

"We did some good things in the first half by scoring and setting up our offense for another score," Fletcher said. "The thing I am not happy about is that they were able to score some touchdowns with Kurt Warner buying some time with his feet in the pocket.

"We didn't get enough pressure. He's not a mobile guy, but he is crafty and we didn't do a good enough job of what we call latching on to their receivers."

After the Cardinals scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to make the score 21-19, the Redskins' defense stepped up on the two-point conversion. LaRon Landry picked off the pass in the end zone.

Fletcher turned in the top defensive play of the first half.

Midway through the second quarter, the Cardinals' offense was operating deep in their own territory. Warner dropped back to pass and had time to wait for a receiver to get open.

Warner's pass sailed past wide receiver Anquan Boldin in the middle of the field, right into Fletcher's arms.

Fletcher found a wall of blockers to his left and raced 27 yards into the end zone for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead for the Redskins. Shawn Springs leveled a hard block on Warner just before Fletcher crossed the goal line for the score.

Discussing the interception, Fletcher said he studied the Cardinals' scheme in film study and had a read on the play call.

"It was just a matter of understanding what they like to do in that situation," he said.

Fletcher leveled several punishing tackles in the game. On a 3rd-and-8 play in the third quarter, he tackled wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald two yards short of a first down.

Then he jumped up and made several hand gestures. The referees interpreted it as taunting the Cardinals' bench, but it appeared Fletcher was getting fans charged up. Nevertheless, Fletcher was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

"He was playing to the fans and I think the referee said they took it as taunting their sideline," head coach Joe Gibbs said.

Gibbs lauded Fletcher for his "great excitement about playing" the game.

"You'd think a guy that has played that long, done all the things he's done--he has the enthusiasm of a rookie," Gibbs said. "He sits right in front of the meeting room, very conscientious about what he does. He knows every single call.

"Gregg says many times after practice he'll walk off and say, 'You know, that wasn't supposed to be the call,' and he'll correct Gregg. He's a bona fide leader and a great producer. I can't brag about London enough."

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