Defensive coordinator Joe Barry said he didn't expect the Cardinals to go for it on fourth down clinging to a one-point lead.
The Redskins, as has already been well-documented, didn't perform very well on third down against the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday. But one of their six stops, coming late in the game with the team down by a point, had the misfortune of setting up an even more back-breaking fourth down conversion.
The Cardinals kept their offense on the field on fourth-and-1 on their own 34-yard line. This is a risky move anytime, but especially when the ball is in the opposing team's territory and the score is extremely tight. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry told linebacker Will Compton to relay to the defense to beware of quarterback Carson Palmer using a hard count to draw the defense offside.
Instead, Palmer gave the ball to running back David Johnson, who ran for 14 yards, extending the drive that would turn into a touchdown, handing the Redskins a 31-23 defeat. Barry, along with the rest of the Redskins staff, was very surprised.
"You wouldn't think that would be a situation where they went for it," Barry said. "But they did and when that does happen, in those situations, as far as me on the headset, the biggest thing that we're telling our guys or I'm telling Comp [Will Compton] to relay to the guys is, 'Hey, they're probably going to hard count us here,' meaning that the quarterback is probably going to get us to jump offsides. 'Watch the ball, don't jump offsides, let's not give them a first down.' But obviously when they go ahead and execute the play, we have to execute."
Barry conceded that even some of the players were surprised that Palmer went ahead with the snap, but gave credit to Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians for taking a risk like that.
"I think on both sides from the sideline and from on the field, I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that's football," Barry said. "The center's hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute and we didn't, which is unfortunate because that was a huge part even though as I mentioned before we had another third down after that where we got a crucial penalty called on us and then we gave up the ball being thrown over our head ultimately four or five plays later. But, yeah, the fourth-and-1 play was huge."
The last two weeks, the Redskins have struggled to get off the field in these situations, which has led to a lot of back and forth games. Barry acknowledged his frustration with those statistics, but hopes in the last four weeks his unit will be able to do enough to make sure the offense scores more points than his defense allows.
"You get into shootouts and there's a ton of points being scored," Barry said. "Every flow of every game is different. And again, even though we preach specific goals for every specific situation, again like I said, the No. 1 goal, the No. 1 statistic is make sure when you look up when it's 0:00 on the clock that they have one less point than we have. And that hasn't been good enough for the last two weeks because we've lost."