Andre Carter came into this game leading the Redskins with 6.5 sacks on the season, 2.5 more than he had in all of 2009. Brian Orakpo came into this game leading all NFL rookies with 5.5 sacks — trailing Carter by one for the team lead. The Broncos, meanwhile, had allowed 13 sacks all year. Something had to give … and what gave turned out to be Denver quarterback Kyle Orton’s ankle.
“The reason why Denver was able to have [success] when it came to giving up sacks,” Carter explained after the game, “is because they’re able to release the ball so quick. Just the connection between the quarterback and the receiver, they’re just like, ’1-2-3 go! 1-2-3 go!’ the quick three-step drop.”
On the last offensive play of the first half, Orton scrambled out of the shotgun and was taken down by Orakpo for a three yard gain. But he came up limping and never returned to the game.
Enter backup QB Chris Simms, who did not have the same 1-2-3 go! rhythm with the receivers that Orton did, and who would finish 3-for-13 for 13 yards and an interception, for a less-than-stellar passer rating of 7.5. Oh, and he was sacked three times: once by Carter, once by Orakpo, and once by Carter and Orakpo.
The two got their shared sack first, so the gap at the top of the Redskins sack tally was stuck at one. “I always tell him, ‘Man, you need to stop jumpin’ on my sacks,’ and he always says the same thing,” Carter said.
Then, on the Broncos desperate final drive, Carter got a sack on first down, stretching his total to eight and his lead over Orakpo to two. That lead lasted two plays; Orakpo’s sack came on third down, forcing the Broncos into a fourth-and-17 and cutting Carter’s sack lead back to one.
I asked Carter if the two were having a competition, and he laughed. “We are,” he said, but added, “we take pride in each other, we work hard, and he’s having a great year, an exciting year. One thing, though, is that it’s definitely a tribute to [Albert] Haynesworth, whoever’s in those two tackles. They’re pass rushing their butts off, so as far as one-on-one matchups, Brian and I, we HAVE to get there.”
Which prompted me to ask the obvious follow-up question: with all of the lying-on-the-field-gasping and ankle injuries and going-to-the-sidelines, is Haynesworth worth it?
“It is worth that,” Carter said. “Because one thing about him, when you watch the film and analyze it, is he sacrifices his body. I mean, he’s a big man, so when you see him dive for a tackle, that’s 300-plus pounds of man there, so sometimes you get banged up. But one thing about him: he’ll tape it up and come back.”
Photos by and courtesy of Brian Murphy.
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