Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hunting With The Predator: When You Go To The Ball, Good Things Happen

Through the turmoil of a few tough games, taking a game-changing pass interference call against the Lions, and ultimately ceding his starting job to Reed Doughty, Chris Horton has remained a consummate professional.

I caught The Predator on the local DC sports talk station Wednesday night on Holden Kushner’s Overtime, and if you didn’t hear the interview, I highly suggest you check out the podcast.

Chris answered every question Kushner threw on the table with genuine poise. When asked how he feels about not starting, Chris stated that he’s just going to continue to play his hardest, as he always does. When asked if he ever gets on other guys on defense for not making plays, he said there’s no room for criticism on the field, and he doesn’t believe in casting stones. And to what was going through his head when he recovered the fumble last week to seal the win, (somewhat of a softball question) Horton refused to take credit for the play, and said he was just in the right place at the right time. In his words, “when you go to the ball, good things happen.” It would have been easy enough to celebrate his success on air, even just a little bit, but he gave credit to rookie Jeremy Jarmon for forcing the fumble.

In his conversation with Kushner, it was easy to tell that all his answers were candid and unrehearsed. It’s a testament to his character that given a soapbox to talk about his successes or complain about his setbacks, Horton chose to humbly applaud his teammates instead.

And starting or not, The Predator will continue to play his heart out in each game because he’s part of a team working to win games and deliver a good show for fans.


Heading out to Fed Ex Field last Sunday for the Buccaneers game, there couldn’t have been a greater day for football. The sun was out, the parking lots were full, and spectators were out in force. I stopped by the annual Redskins Extravaganza tailgate, benefitting the DC Boys and Girls Clubs, and fans were as fired up for a game as I’ve seen.

Coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Lions in Week 3, fans, players, and coaches alike needed a win against the Bucs to boost morale and to get back to .500. In what most consider the softer part of their schedule this year, a second loss in a row would have been detrimental.

The game started off as a nail biter. An early turnover deep in the Skins territory led to a Bucs touchdown. Fans were on edge. Getting behind a team they were supposed to beat on paper was all too reminiscent of Week 3. Not good.

But the team fought through the first half, and finally opened up the flood gates in the second. The Campbell-to-Cooley connection linked up again, and Moss found another deep ball, capping off another solid performance. The electricity was palpable. Whatever displeasure roiled in the stands at halftime gave way to an explosion of cheers and applause.

The Bucs managed another field goal in the fourth quarter to keep it interesting, coming within three. But on Tampa Bay’s last drive of the game within the two-minute warning, Horton made a stop on first down. He then came out of the pile on third down with the fumble recovery to seal the game.

He might not have started that day, but The Predator came up big when the team needed him the most.

2009 tackles to-date: 24

Now at 2-2, the Skins head to Charlotte to take on a very dangerous 0-3 Panthers.

The mood is that Carolina’s capable offense could give the D some trouble, and the Skins offense is still looking for a breakout game. With that little extra bit of pressure comes an urgency that wasn’t there in the last three games. The Redskins were favored in each, even on the road against the Lions. Now that they are essentially the underdogs, there is no complacency left to hold them back from their best effort.

They know that it’s time to go out and hammer out a win, favored or not. And regardless of the starting lineup this week, Horton will put forth his best effort on each down he sees. It’s the only way he knows how to play.

Stay Fired Up!

Prey of the Week: DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Two solid running backs who had over 2300 yards combined last year. If Horton and the D shut them down, the secondary should take care of whatever Delhomme throws at them. Advantage: Horton has Stewart’s number from continually shutting him down in PAC 10 games. Bad news for Stewart.