The Washington Redskins are tied for 28th in the NFL with only 19 sacks. Their 11 interceptions are tied for 12th.
With a miniscule five forced fumbles, the Redskins are dead last.
But despite those less-than-gaudy numbers, Washington has been tackling its way to the sixth-ranked defense in the league.
The Redskins do not do it with style, flash or bravado, but they allow a meager average of 283.0 yards per game, definitely enough to open some eyes.
"We've got a big challenge this week, going against one of the top defenses in the league," said Ravens offensive coordinator **Cam Cameron.** "Their coaching staff is doing an outstanding job. [They have] probably one of, if not the most talented, defenses we've played. They basically say we're going to cover you one-on-one, play you man-to-man. Our guys are excited about that challenge."
Quite simply, the Redskins execute the little things to get the job done.
Led by defensive coordinator Greg Blache, whom Jim Zorn kept on staff from the previous Joe Gibbs regime, Washington is fundamentally sound and very physical.
The Redskins will load the box with eight defenders to stop the run and force quarterbacks to beat them through the air.
Of course, that's where Washington's strength lays. Starting cornerbacks Carlos Rogers and Fred Smoot couple with safeties Chris Horton and LaRon Landry. And, DeAngelo Hall and Shawn Springs are the backups, placing one of the best - if not the best - defensive backfields in the nation's capital.
The system works hand-in-hand in stopping large gains. Washington has only given up five runs of 20 or more yards all season, with the longest coming two weeks ago in a 20-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
"They do a good job playing over the top of things," Cameron explained. "They know what they're doing. They don't rush the passer sometimes because they're trying to contain the run, and they don't give up a lot of big runs. I think their longest run is probably 20 yards, so they don't give up a lot of big runs. That's kind of their philosophy."
In addition, Landry, brother of Ravens safety **Dawan Landry**, regularly plays over the top to clean up any ballcarrier that slips through the first two levels or guard the long-ball.
The Ravens have had recent success getting down the field, however.
Just last week, Baltimore defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 34-3 partially on the arm of rookie quarterback Joe Flacco!(/team/roster/joe-flacco/3e20766f-6520-4ca1-9901-44389aaea8b8/ "Joe Flacco"). The first-round draft pick completed a 70-yard touchdown pass to wideout **Mark Clayton**, who made a spectacular one-handed catch. Flacco also threaded a 32-yarder to receiver **Derrick Mason**
and threw another 45-yard pass to Clayton.
In fact, over the last seven games, the Ravens have tallied 26 plays of over 20 yards. As a result, taking shots deep has opened up opportunities for Baltimore's three-headed rushing attack, along with short and intermediate routes in the passing game.
"You're going to have to execute the fundamentals," Cameron continued. "You're going to have to be patient to some degree and try to make big plays when they're there, but they don't give up a ton of them."
For Flacco, it's getting to the point where he can almost foretell when one of those big plays is going to connect before he steps under center.
"You always break the huddle and you go up there and you see how the defense lines up for the play you have, and you're like, 'Oh man, if we hit this, we've got it,'" Flacco said with a smile. "It kind of happened on the touchdown Mark made the one-handed catch on. I came out, and saw that the guy came up and pressed him, and I was like, 'Oh man, all right, if you want to...'"
While the Redskins play some of that press as well, they have the back end to handle such challenges, in addition to just enough of a pass rush to rattle the quarterback.
"They have a solid front seven and a solid secondary," said offensive tackle **Adam Terry**. "You don't see a lot of broken tackles or dropped coverages. They may not have a lot of sacks, but they bat balls down.
"They might not get to the quarterback, but the quarterback always knows that they're always there with that pressure up front."
The Redskins' defense might not boast a lot of those showy statistics, but opposing offenses have felt this unit's presence all year.