After a promising playoff appearance last season, Trent Murphy and the Washington Redskins were looking to pick up where they left off in their preseason opener.
The Skins traveled to Atlanta to take on the Falcons, but despite a narrow 23-17 loss, Trent and the defense had a solid showing and learned what they need to work on.
“We can’t have that many penalties. First teamers did OK I guess. Defense we had three-and-out, another good series, but we got a lot of guys that are going to play a lot of good football for us, and we’ve got a lot to clean up,” head coach Jay Gruden said.
After bulking up over the offseason to prepare for multiple defensive positions, Trent showed great quickness off the snap. He did a terrific job of getting to the quarterback and setting the edge to prevent the outside run. Washington’s defense did a good job of pinning Atlanta on the ground with a total of seven tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery.
“In a preseason game, it really doesn’t tell you a whole lot, but we do feel there are a lot of guys that have shown what they’re capable of when they play at the highest level, and if we could get all those guys together at once playing mistake-free football, we really like our chances,” Kirk Cousins said.
Trent and the D.C. defense held Matt Ryan to no completions or first downs on his two drives. Washington’s starter, Cousins, was a perfect 5-of-5 for 39 yards in his lone possession.
Washington backup quarterback Colt McCoy led the team to a field goal to kick off the scoring. Late into the first half, Trent made a great play to stuff Devonta Freeman at the line, resulting in a three-yard loss.
Atlanta answered with a field goal, and shortly thereafter, a 68-yard completion by Matt Schaub led to a touchdown run to put the Falcons up 10-3.
The Falcons tacked on another field goal at the end of the half. At the start of the third quarter, Falcons rookie J.D. McKissic electrified the crowd with a 101-yard touchdown return on the kickoff, and another field goal made the score 23-3.
However, Washington backup quarterback Nate Sudfield marched the team on a seven-play, 78-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown.
Both teams traded punts, and then Washington’s Geno Matias-Smith recovered a fumble deep in Atlanta territory. Sudfield commanded a short drive that ended in a six-yard touchdown pass to make the score 23-17.
Late into the fourth quarter, Washington’s special teams forced the Falcons to miss a field goal, giving the offense one last chance. Unfortunately, Sudfield and Co. were unable to get going, and the Falcons escaped with a narrow win.
Among Washington players that didn’t see action were tight-end Jordan Reed and wide-receivers in Jamison Crowder and Reggie Diggs. After the game, coach Gruden talked about what the Redskins can fix after their first preseason exhibition.
“That’s why these games are important. You take for-granted certain issues of the game that are very important. Penalties are a major factor in the outcome of football games, and if we don’t get those fixed we’re not going to be a very good football team,” Coach Gruden said. “I’m glad it happened now. I’m not glad that it happened, but I’m glad we got a chance to look at it and correct them and make sure we know how important those are.”
The Redskins will return home to host the New York Jets in Week 2 of the preseason. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. ET start time on Aug. 19. Last season, New York defeated Washington during regular-season play by a score of 34-20.