Rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigan played in his first regular season NFL game on Sunday afternoon, and he could feel the difference in intensity.
"It was definitely quicker and definitely more physical," Kerrigan said. "You definitely feel it more when you are playing four quarters versus two [in the preseason]."
The heightened intensity of the season opener didn't seem to faze Kerrigan, though.
He finished the game with five tackles, one quarterback hit, and one pass defended that he turned into an interception and six points.
On the opening drive of the second half, the Giants were backed up on their 18-yard line and faced a 3rd-and-10.
Eli Manning dropped back to pass and Kerrigan did what he was taught to do — read and react.
"I knew it was a quick pass because the offensive lineman was trying to cut me so I just tried to get the cut block and get my hands up," Kerrigan said. "Fortunately, I was able to get my hands on the ball and get into the end zone."
His touchdown gave the Redskins a 21-14 lead and a boost in momentum early in second half. The Redskins went on to win 28-14.
Fellow linebacker Brian Orakpo was impressed with Kerrigan's play on the touchdown.
"You don't see a lot of guys do that," Orakpo said. "The guy is athletic. He has great awareness for the ball, good ball skills, and that's what good ball players do."
The touchdown had a little added significance for Kerrigan.
"I never scored a touchdown in college, so I was pretty excited to get my first touchdown in my first NFL game," he said.
While his touchdown was a key play in the game, Kerrigan was quick to credit the other 10 players on defense.
"We have a lot of playmakers on this defense," he said. "If we can play like the way we did in the second half week in and week out we can have a really good team."