SEABROOK – The Washington Redskins offense resembled late 1980s dominance in the first half against the Arizona Cardinals during the season opener on Sept. 9.
One could only do a double-take at the Washington sideline to see if former three-time super bowl-winning head coach Joe Gibbs had the clipboard in his hands calling plays reminiscent of his former ground and pound style of play with the use of power running, screens and play action passing.
Newly acquired quarterback Alex Smith led the charge with the help of a potent rushing attack comprised of Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson who shredded Arizona’s defense for 261 yards of total offense and dominated time of possession (22:57) in the first half of play.
In doing so, Washington came away with a dominant 24-6 victory marking the first season-opening win of Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden’s five-year tenure with the organization.
“We had some pretty good momentum going, good tempo and we handled the noise extremely well for our offense,” said Washington Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden. “We stayed away from the bad penalties for the most part and we were able to be efficient.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Smith orchestrated three unanswered scoring drives going into halftime after he connected with Thompson on a 13-yard strike for a touchdown and then for good measure, Peterson punched in a one-yard touchdown on a third and one play with more than nine minutes remaining in the second quarter. It was Peterson’s 100th touchdown of his 11-year career.
“I’ve sat back and watched this offensive line for two years and dreamed about playing behind as aggressive and play with the technique that they do,” Peterson said. “Those guys did a great job of allowing me to slow my game down to take advantage of what they created for me.”
Redskins tight end Jordan Reed was on the end of a pinpoint 4-yard pass from Smith in the flat during the waning minutes of the second quarter as Reed dove toward the pylon and extended the ball past the chalk to take a double-digit lead into the locker room shortly after.
Peterson and Thompson bullied arguably one of stingiest defensive units in the league by combining for 198 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.
Peterson was only four yards shy of reaching the century mark on the ground but did cough up the ball on a 52-yard reception when he attempted to fight for extra yardage during garbage time.
Nevertheless, Smith had an efficient outing to go along with the dominant running game by throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns as kicker Dustin Hopkins completed the scoring for the Burgundy and Gold on a 31-yard field goal with just 3:11 remaining in the contest after a scoreless third frame.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford was held in check for the duration of the match. He only accounted for 153 yards and threw a first-half interception to Quinton Dunbar.
Cardinals standout running back David Johnson did find the end zone on a 2-yard run (two-point conversion failed) late in the fourth quarter, but he only managed to gain 37 yards and the Redskins defensive unit held Arizona to just 68 yards on the ground.
“All of the linebackers honed in on him (Johnson) and we weren’t going to let him beat us like he did a couple of years ago singlehandedly,” said Washington Redskins linebacker Mason Foster. “The biggest thing was to keep him bottled up and not to give him the homerun play and I felt like we did a good job.”
Washington linebacker Zach Brown, defensive back Montae Nicholson and safety D.J. Swearinger all had five tackles apiece and third-year defensive tackle Matthew Ioannidis wrapped the game up with a bow on top after he secured a fumble as Smith clocked the ball for the 18-point victory.
Washington will host the winless Indianapolis Colts (0-1) on Sunday.
“Execution is the king,” Gruden said about his team’s performance. “They played great, it wasn’t about the plays, it was the players and they performed well. Alex (Smith) led the show when the linemen gave him time and running lanes for the backs and the guys did the rest of the work. I think anytime you win on the road you have to say that everyone played pretty darn well.”