Shawn Springs lives for days like Sunday. He knew that the St. Louis Rams' offense, still living off its reputation as the "Greatest Show on Turf," would challenge him with passes all afternoon. He knew one of the NFL's top wide receiver threats, Torry Holt, would challenge him with speed and game-breaking ability.
But no matter the point in the game, the Redskins' defense pressured rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick relentlessly. Pressure came in the form of Marcus Washington bursting past a blocker on a linebacker blitz, and safeties Sean Taylor, Ryan Clark and Pierson Prioleau each taking turns coming in on safety blitzes.
The pressure benefited Springs and the rest of the cornerbacks, who kept the "Greatest Show" from getting on track, and was key as the Redskins defeated the St. Louis Rams 24-9 on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.
It also helped that the physical presence of Taylor, who leveled several hard hits on receivers and ballcarriers, seemed to intimidate the Rams' offense.
Springs was challenged often by Holt, who caught six passes for 75 yards. But Springs, who finished with four tackles, always kept Holt in front of him, ensuring that he would not give up the big plays that have haunted the defense for the last few weeks.
"The Rams have a very smart, very disciplined wide receiver corps," Springs said. "People think it's a physical game, but they're smart because they know how to set you up and get in your blind spots. Sometimes they don't always run full speed, because they're working you for a play later in the game."
Added Springs: "They're a timing offense, so you have to get them off their routes. You have to be physical. The good thing is, there's an opportunity to make plays when you go against a receiving corps like that. You have to take it as a personal challenge."
Rogers led the defense with six tackles and added an interception that sealed the game in the fourth quarter. It was Rogers' second interception in as many weeks.
Rogers was on Isaac Bruce, another perennial Pro Bowler, most of the afternoon and yielded just four catches for 33 yards.
"We knew we had to be physical with them," Rogers said. "They like to catch it with a lot of room and try to get down there and get into open space. We knew we had to be conscious of illegal contact rules--I had that called on me a couple times this year. We had to be very precise in getting our hands on them within five yards."
Rogers performance suggested a rookie who is starting to come into his own. Rogers drew the start, his first since Week 6 at Kansas City when it was necessitated due to injury.
"Carlos has been practicing in the base package since he's been here, so it's not like it was new to him," Springs said. "Hopefully it was just like practice to him. I'm quite sure he's adjusted. He's not a rookie any longer. He's had too many practices now."
Added Clark: "I've been watching him closely since early August and one thing you have to like about him is confidence. He goes out there with no fear, hoping they throw the ball at him, and he did a great job. It was a good week to start if you want to get balls thrown at you. We're going to prepare him well and do all we can to help him mature."