ROCKVILLE – After the Washington Redskins’ defense gave up two touchdowns on the first two drives of the game against the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 1, it could have been easy to write them off.
But slowly, Washington’s offense helped chip away, and the defense held firm as the Redskins went on to score 29 unanswered points.
Thanks to a dominant performance from running backs Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson, the Redskins (3-9) defeated the Panthers (5-7), 29-21, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“We didn’t start as fast as we wanted to,” said Redskins interim Head Coach Bill Callahan. “I think we got behind the eight ball a little bit…then I thought our defense made really good adjustments, stopped one of the top rushers in the game, applied really good pressure (sic) and provided us with some really good field position.”
Carolina began the game with two touchdowns on its first two offensive drives, giving them an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Washington was able to chip back with a pair of field goals from kicker Dustin Hopkins to make the score 14-6 in favor of Carolina.
However, momentum would swing late in the second quarter when Washington cornerback Fabian Moreau intercepted Panther’s quarterback Kyle Allen, returning the ball to just shy of the goal line. On the next play, Guice punched it in from 1-yard out, making the scoring 14-12 in favor for Carolina after a failed two-point conversion attempt by the Redskins.
In just his fourth ever NFL regular-season game, Guice rushed for 129 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns. For his part, Peterson rushed for 99 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
Guice’s big plays on offense turned the game for Washington.
The Redskins first scoring drive came off a 60-yard run by Guice in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, Guice would propel the Redskins to an eight-point lead.
Up 15-14, Guice found a hole between the left tackle and guard, stiff-armed a Carolina defender and broke free up the sideline bowling into another Panthers defensive player carrying him to the 1-yard line. Guice would cap his long run with a touchdown on the next play giving the Redskins a 22-14 lead with 9:09 remaining in the game.
“It’s extremely fun to watch those guys run the ball,” said Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins. “…They run so hard. It’s so fun watching them run the ball.”
Guice has missed more games than he’s played in during his brief NFL career. In last year’s preseason, Guice tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a preseason game against the New England Patriots, which caused him to sit out his entire rookie year.
This season, in Washington’s Week 1 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Guice tore his meniscus, making him miss the next eight games.
Callahan said when Guice has been healthy, his skill set has shown.
“There’s a lot of range to his game, a lot of ceiling to his game,” Callahan said of Guice. “I think we’re just starting to untap it.”
Haskins completed 13 of 25 passes for 147 yards. In only his fourth NFL start, Callahan said Haskins “managed” the game well, not turning the ball over, and converting critical third down plays.
For its part, the defense had two turnovers and seven sacks. Newly signed linebacker Chris Odom had two sacks in four tackles. Defense end Matt Ioannidis had two sacks and rookie linebacker Montez Sweat had 1.5 sacks.
Since the first two drives, the defense held Carolina scoreless until late in the fourth quarter when the Panthers mounted a comeback attempt.
Just after the two-minute warning, Allen had a 17-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to eight points after a made extra point.
The Panthers then recovered the ensuing onside kick and again drove down the field. On a fourth-and-goal from the Washington 3-yard line, Odom sacked Allen to end the game.
The Redskins have now won two in a row and face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Dec. 8.