In its first game action of the year, the Redskins' defense limited the Pittsburgh Steelers to just seven points and 186 yards of total offense.
It was the first test for the defense, which finished 31st in the NFL last season. The unit features several new players at key positions, including defensive end Stephen Bowen, nose tackle Barry Cofield and rookie outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.
The defense measured up well as the Redskins opened preseason with a 16-7 win.
The Redskins limited the Steelers' offense to just 2-of-11 on third downs and they stopped their only fourth down attempt late in the game.
"I was very impressed," linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "One thing about it is, we are just trying to continue to grow, continue to learn from each other and play together as one. I'm very excited about where we are right now."
The defense's effectiveness on Friday night proved that hard work pays off, cornerback Kevin Barnes said.
"We're practicing a lot harder together," cornerback Kevin Barnes said of the defensive unit. "Everybody just fits in the defense a lot more. It's not a lot of thinking, it's a lot of reacting."
During the Steelers' first drive of the game, Brian Orakpo attracted blockers which helped open up a lane for Barnes to blitz in and sack Ben Roethlisberger. The 9-yard loss forced a punt.
"I think that's just a credit to how hard we've been working the last couple weeks," Kerrigan said.
Later in the first quarter, defensive lineman Stephen Bowen sacked Steelers backup quarterback Byron Leftwich 10 yards in the backfield on a third down, forcing another punt.
Even when the Redskins starters came out, the second-string continued the pressure.
Rookie free safety DeJon Gomes, on another third down play, blitzed quarterback Dennis Dixon and sacked him for a 15-yard loss.
"We had really good pressure on the quarterbacks, from all different angles," rookie nose tackle Chris Neild said. "We did a good job out there on defense."