Player Of The Week Award Reflects ‘Not A Bad Week’s Work’ For DeAngelo Hall
This story appeared on page B1 of Thursday’s Free Lance-Star
ASHBURN – Ever the critic, DeAngelo Hall originally reflected upon his performance against Seattle through a pessimistic lens.
Hall knew he got his hands on a lot of Seahawks quarterback Tavaris Jackson’s passes. There were six, to be exact. But rather than viewing them as deflections, he saw some, such as an attempt to Mike Williams down the right sideline with 5:27 remaining in the first quarter, as dropped interceptions.
“You know, we got the win, and that’s kind of all that matters,” Hall said yesterday at Redskins Park. “But definitely dropped a couple gifts.”
That didn’t matter to the NFL, who gave him a nice, shiny present for his efforts. The league named Hall the NFC defensive player of the week, citing the passes defended, five tackles and an interception that essentially ended the game as reason for the award.
It was the second such honor for Hall, who was last spotlighted by the league a year ago when he intercepted four passes in a victory at Chicago. This one came a little more unexpectantly.
“Not a bad week’s work, I guess,” Hall said.
Hall was even tougher on himself a week ago when, after allowing a 22-yard reception on third-and-15 in overtime against Dallas, the veteran in his eighth year out of Virginia Tech said he wasn’t playing up to the coaches’ standards. If he was the one making personnel decisions, Hall said, he would cut himself from team.
“I’m sure glad he didn’t quit, or he would have never got player of the week,” Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan joked.
Hall backed up his promises to improve in the coming weeks with his effort against Seattle. In a game that was chippy from the start because of a pre-game altercation between the two teams – one Hall was naturally involved in – the cornerback played a large role.
He did allow a touchdown pass from Jackson to Golden Tate with 12:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, but he broke up another – a high throw early in the third quarter that the 5-foot-10 Hall, playing behind the 6-foot-5 Williams, sized up, leapt for and batted out of the receiver’s hands.
“You’ve got to be accountable,” Shanahan said. “I thought he was very accountable. He had a great week of practice and it showed on Sunday that he deserves [defensive] player of the week. That doesn’t happen all the time – to not have one of your better games, but to have the mental toughness to come back and play one of your better games.”
Hall’s performance was just a sample of what the Redskins’ secondary was able to accomplish on the day. The team gave up only 126 passing yards to Jackson and the Seahawks, its best performance of the season, and surrendered an average of 3.7 yards per pass.
Josh Wilson, the Redskins’ other cornerback, had three tackles and two deflected passes in his return to Seattle, where he spent his first three seasons. The safeties also helped out, with LaRon Landry finishing with four tackles and a sack, Oshiomogho Atogwe adding two tackles and Reed Doughty making one.
“I mean, I think anytime you hold anybody to 125, 126 yards, that’s an exceptional game,” Wilson said. “We made some plays and we just did what we were supposed to do. We did our jobs. That’s the reason why we’re here.”
The largest struggle for the Redskins’ secondary this season – aside from staying healthy, which has affected each of the four starters in some degree – has been forcing turnovers. Hall’s interception was his second of the year but only the fifth amongst the defensive backs, and as a unit, the defense has only intercepted eight passes, tied for 24th in the league.
Hall’s interception, which came with 37 seconds remaining and Seattle facing third-and-nine with a six-point deficit, was largely a factor of the situation and not a crucial game-changer. But the deflections represent an improvement against the passing game and are also a sign that the Redskins’ secondary, even 11 games in, is starting to come together.
With Washington facing the New York Jets on Sunday, and quarterback Mark Sanchez having thrown 11 interceptions already this season, the eighth-most in the league, it will be a chance for Hall and the other defensive backs to make additional plays.
Instead of the Seahawks, they’ll be facing two formidable receivers in Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes and a capable tight end in Dustin Keller.
These are the types of challenges defensive backs look forward to.
“We on the corners are going to be challenged,” Hall said. “We’re going to be challenged with Santonio, Plaxico, that tight end. We know they’re going to put a lot of guys up front to stop the run, so we’ve got to be manned up enough to try to stop the passing game.”