Facing a young tackle making his NFL debut, Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan took advantage of his inexperience and sacked Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz twice on Sunday.
Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan is not new to the Redskins-Eagles rivalry. The Purdue product had notched six sacks against the Eagles over his career entering Sunday's game against Philadelphia at FedExField.
With Eagles Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson starting a 10-game suspension, rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai made his first career start on Sunday. Kerrigan welcomed him to the rivalry right away.
On the first play of the game, Kerrigan beat the rookie, helping safety Will Blackmon sack quarterback Carson Wentz. Later in the drive, Kerrigan beat Vaitai again, sacking Wentz for a six-yard loss.
"Yeah, fortunately I was," Kerrigan said on being able to take advantage of the rookie. As a team, we were able to take advantage of some situations that we had out there, put them in negative yard situations, and come up with some big stops."
Two drives later, Kerrigan beat Vaitai again, sacking Wentz for another six-yard loss. The sack put the Eagles in a third-and-long situation and they were unable to convert.
Despite facing a rookie, Kerrigan prepared just as hard as he would normally against a veteran like Johnson.
"[I prepared] no more than if I'm going against a veteran," he said. "I study film and try to get some tendencies. Fortunately, I was able to find some things that worked and able to execute them."
The sixth-year veteran registered two of the five sacks the Redskins defense had as a whole. The pass rush kept Wentz from getting in a rhythm, and the Eagles were unable to muster anything on offense until the fourth quarter.
"We just needed to get pressure in his face, get guys up the middle," Kerrigan said on stopping Wentz. "Our interior guys did a great job today of doing that. It was awesome to see it fully come together for us defensively today. Didn't allow them in the end zone, didn't allow them across midfield until late in the game, so pretty awesome and hope we can keep this up the next few weeks."
The Redskins defense has not allowed a touchdown since the first quarter against Baltimore two weeks ago. This defense, led in part by Kerrigan, is starting to find their identity.
"We're a lot more confident out there," he said. "We're playing a lot better collective ball. Up until the fourth quarter, they didn't have very many passing yards or rushing yards. If we keep those up, keep stacking together some good games, we can be a really good defense."