Facing one of the league's most dangerous offenses Saturday in Atlanta, the Redskins' defense forced three takeaways vs. the Falcons -- two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Earlier this week, cornerback Will Blackmon stood by his locker and continued to remain calm when asked about the lack of defensive turnovers, and specifically, interceptions, that the Redskins had struggled in creating over their first four games of the season.
"Eventually they'll come," he said, knowing how close the defense had gotten on a variety of occasions that could have turned around the momentum in each particular contest.
As though it were proclamation, the Redskins turned a Falcons offense -- supported by quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones -- bristling with confidence and precision into dysfunction for the majority of their overtime 25-19 loss Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
The Redskins forced three turnovers – with two interceptions – and made Ryan look his most uncomfortable of the season.
The change of fortune occurred on the Falcons' first offensive drive. After they began to find success with tight end Jacob Tamme, Ryan fired a pass down the left seam intended for Julio Jones, but it drifted to the receiver's back shoulder and out of reach.
Safety Trenton Robinson, who finished the game with five tackles and a pass deflection, paralleled the route, and after a quick bobble, secured the take away, returning it briefly to the Redskins 25-yard line, setting the tone for a first half that limited the Falcons to just three points.
"You just had to know where the guy was at and we had a great defensive game plan," Robinson said of limiting Jones. "Our coaches prepared us all week. We knew what they were going to try and do, we knew what they were going to be doing. They made some catches, but nothing explosive."
In the second quarter, with similar momentum, Ryan began to scramble for a first down into the red zone. As defensive end Jason Hatcher wrapped him up, defensive lineman Chris Baker ripped the ball from his arms and the ball skidded into the diving grab of linebacker Will Compton.
"We were just out there attacking today," said safety Kyshoen Jarrett. "You know, everybody was doubting our secondary and stuff like that, so you know, we were definitely hungry today, so I mean we will continue to be hungry each week from now, just as we were since the first game."
Ryan's second interception was a gift that cornerback Bashaud Breeland was happy to unwrap.
In the fourth quarter, with the Falcons trailing, Ryan, facing pressure and being forced into awkward footing the entire game, underthrew his target Roddy White on a crossing route. It looked like a pass right to Breeland himself.
He picked the pass at midfield with ease but wasn't finished, running back across it and evading tacklers for 28 more yards.
Then, moments before running back Devonta Freeman would run into the end zone, Breeland swatted away a would-be touchdown pass to Leonard Hankerson.
"I compete no matter who it is," Breeland said. "In big games, nobody really expects me to go out there and really do anything so that's when I take pride in myself to go out there and show the world that I got talent, too. I ain't just average."
With a depleted secondary due to injuries to corners Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall, the loss masked a strong resiliency from the backups (Blackmon) and rookies (Jarrett) and saw its veterans step up when they needed, limiting Falcons receivers to just nine catches, and preventing the big play.
Ryan only completed for 254 yards passing and couldn't find the end zone through the air for the first time this season.
"They played well for the most part," Gruden said. "They competed. We got a couple of sacks in the first half…there were some good things our defense did and there are some things we can correct."