In the Redskins' loss last week against the Chicago Bears, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense were able to set the tone early by attacking the Washington secondary with deep passes and quick, successful screen plays.
In turn, the Redskins' linebackers, unable to get much of a pass rush going, could only watch as the Bears put up 16 first-half points.
What a difference a week makes.
Setting the tone in Saturday's preseason matchup against the Indianapolis Colts were those same Redskins linebackers, who were able to make key plays while flying around the field.
In all, the Redskins' linebackers accounted for three of the team's four sacks against the Colts (1-2) – one of which forced a safety – in their 30-17 win at FedExField.
The linebackers' effort is even more impressive considering starting outside linebacker Brian Orakpo did not play in Saturday's game due to a shoulder injury.
"We were really hitting on all cylinders," said Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins' other starting outside linebacker. "We only allowed seven points with our first unit out there on defense. That's pretty good, and we just want to keep that up and keep building momentum for the season opener at New Orleans."
Kerrigan said the Redskins' defense was successful Saturday partly because it prepared itself for an Indianapolis offensive line that isn't shy about going low for a block.
"I did get chipped a lot," Kerrigan said. "We knew coming in that they like to chip a lot, and it seemed like they were doing it an awful lot today, too."
The highlight for the Redskins' (2-1) linebackers came in the third quarter, when Chris Wilson collided with Colts' backup quarterback Chandler Harnish in his own end zone for a safety sack. The play extended the Redskins' lead to 16-7 and gave the home team a momentum boost
Another key for the Redskins was Orakpo's replacement, Rob Jackson, who was constantly in the Colts' backfield.
"Chris and Rob split some time playing with the first group today and both played really well," Kerrigan said.
Earning the Redskins' linebackers two other sacks Saturday were Lorenzo Alexander as well as Kerrigan and London Fletcher, who combined on a sack of Colts' rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.
Kerrigan, who has at least a half-sack in all three of the Redskins' preseason games this year, said he came away impressed with the play of Luck, the No. 1 overall pick in April's NFL Draft.
"That guy is as advertised," said Kerrigan, the Redskins' first-round pick in 2011. "I mean, he's going to be a phenomenal for years to come. He played really well and you can already tell he's got a great sense of that offense, a great sense of the game. He moves well in the pocket, which as a pass rusher is frustrating, but he's a good player."