Things weren't trending in the right direction for the Redskins on the Carolina Panthers' final possession of the game Sunday.
After back-to-back touchdowns from running backs Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson gave Washington a 29-14 lead, Carolina responded with a score of its own. Quarterback Kyle Allen capped the 12-play, 75-yard drive with a 17-yard scramble into the end zone.
Then, with just under two minutes remaining, the Panthers recovered an onside kick at their own 48-yard line, giving themselves a chance to pull even. Four Allen completions later, they were on the verge of doing just that, with Carolina star running back Christian McCaffrey set to punch it in from the Washington one-yard line.
But that's when the Redskins defense stood tall.
Pushed back as far as they could go, the unit made plays when it absolutely had to. It stuffed the MVP candidate on consecutive plays for one-yard losses before cornerback Quinton Dunbar broke up a pass on third-and-goal. And then, on Carolina's last gasp, Chris Odom and Nate Orchard worked together to record a strip-sack and a fumble recovery.
"I think everyone all around did their one-eleventh. Everyone just did their job," said defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis, who had two sacks on the afternoon. "We were obviously in a high-pressure situation, and I commend the guys on this team. ...It's a testament to their efforts."
The run stoppage on those first two downs was emblematic of an entire game, as the defensive front stymied a Carolina run game that ranked ninth in the NFL in average rush yards gained per game (125.5). In all, the Panthers mustered just 65 total yards on the ground.
"Yeah, that was the main thing: stop McCaffrey and stop the explosive plays," rookie linebacker Montez Sweat said. "A lot of guys throughout the whole defense showed up today."
Indeed, it was a group effort, as both Ioannidis and Sweat pointed out after the game. Nine players recorded four or more tackles on the day, while four Redskins notched at least one sack.
Perhaps nothing better personified that teamwork then the goal line stand, where a different player made a play on each down. First it was Cole Holcomb and then it was Orchard. And after Dunbar's pass breakup, Orchard and Odom sealed the Redskins' second straight victory.
"That series down in the red-zone when it took four downs … to make those types of stops and back them up and make those tackles for losses and then to make the sack for the game, I couldn't be more proud of what Greg [Manusky] did with the unit," interim head coach Bill Callahan said after the win. "I mean they played hard. We had a lot of contributions."