- The Washington Times
Sunday, September 23, 2018

LANDOVER —  The Washington Redskins knew what was at stake Sunday when they took on the Green Bay Packers.

Facing an upcoming bye week, the mental toll of another loss, entering the break with a sub-.500 record would have been tough to handle.

The Redskins, too, insisted they were better than the team that was dominated last week against the Colts. Players blamed a “low energy” on the sidelines, but running back Adrian Peterson promised it wouldn’t happen again.

As it turns out, Peterson was right. Washington scored a major upset Sunday — earning a 31-17 win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Quarterback Alex Smith threw for 220 yards Sunday, Peterson ran for 120 more and the defense held the Packers to a season-low in points. They now go into a Week 4 bye with a 2-1 record.

“You could see it during the week: the focus, the determination,” said Peterson, who rushed for two touchdowns. “Last week was an embarrassment. You could tell throughout the week that guys took it personal.”

Variety was the key to the Redskins‘ offensive success early. Through two games this season, the Redskins had run the ball 58 percent of the time on first down and the predictability of it allowed the Colts to shut down the Redskins‘ offense.

But against the Packers, the Redskins began the afternoon in shotgun formation and Smith hit tight end Jordan Reed for a seven-yard gain. Washington stayed aggressive. On the third play of that very same drive, the Redskins ran a play-action rollout to Vernon Davis, disguised as a fullback, for 20 yards.

Immediately after that, Smith threw deep — finding Paul Richardson for a 46-yard touchdown to put the Redskins ahead, 7-0. In all, the Redskins needed just four plays to jump out to a lead. Entering the game, they had gone six full quarters without a touchdown.

The passing success allowed the running game to re-emerge. After Washington finished with just 65 yards on the ground last week against the Colts, the franchise had 166 yards against the Packers.

Peterson was the primary reason why. He burst through holes. He shed off defenders. The 33-year-old running back’s 120 yards on 19 carries was the 52nd time in his career in which he finished a game with more than 100 yards.

The Redskins, at times, looked like they could convert whatever they wanted to on offense. Peterson ripped off a 41-yard gain. Smith found Davis streaking down the sideline for 50 yards.

Washington even responded when absolutely necessary, overcoming mistakes.

On offense, Smith came back from throwing a horrendous interception to lead the Redskins on an eight-play, 98-yard drive that resulted in a Jamison Crowder touchdown to put the team up 21-3.

“That’s just how the game goes: You have to be resilient in this league,” Crowder said. “You’ve got to be able to respond. You’ve got to be able to deal with adversity. So we just have to ride the wave and I think we did a great job today and got a win.”

The defense wasn’t perfect, either. Following the Crowder touchdown, the Packers took advantage of a miscue from D.J. Swearinger and Josh Norman — as Rodgers found a wide-open Geronimo Allison for a 64-yard bomb.

But the Redskins, again, answered back — marching down the field in just 1:54 to take a 28-10 lead before halftime. Peterson punched in a two-yard gain from the goal line.

In the second half, the Redskins‘ offense mostly went flat. It didn’t matter. The defense made crucial stops, outside a lengthy Packers scoring drive to open the half.

With 5:32 left, cornerback Fabian Moreau stripped Packers wideout Randall Cobb and Josh Norman recovered. The takeaway allowed the Redskins to further take time off the clock, holding the ball for 3:34 until kicker Dustin Hopkins drilled a 35-yard field goal.

Rodgers was sacked four times, two of which belonged to defensive lineman Jonathan Allen.

Washington will now move forward and when they return, they’ll have a primetime matchup on “Monday Night Football” with the New Orleans Saints.

“We’ve kind of been up and down, so to speak, but I like the way we came out,” coach Jay Gruden said. “I [told] them today, we play with that type of energy and that type of effort every week, we’re pretty dangerous.”

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