OAKLAND, Calif. — Washington’s beleaguered defense finally found an opponent it could bully around after its historically bad start to the season.
David Amerson returned an interception for a touchdown, the defense harassed Oakland backup quarterback Matt Flynn into seven sacks and the Redskins overcome an early 14-point deficit to beat the Oakland Raiders 24-14 Sunday for their first win of the season.
“We needed that so bad,” defensive end Ryan Kerrigan said. “It really feels good. Seven was kind of the magic number today — we give up only seven points, we have seven sacks, scored seven points on defense. Great feeling right now.”
The Redskins (1-3) looked ready to extend the worst start for the franchise since 2001 when they fell behind 14-0 after the first quarter to the Raiders (1-3) on a blocked punt touchdown and a scoring pass from Flynn.
But the defense took over after that against a team missing starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor and without starting running backs Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece for much of the game.
Robert Griffin III threw a go-ahead touchdown pass late in the third quarter and Roy Helu Jr. iced the game with a 14-yard TD run in the fourth as the Redskins rallied from 14 points down after the first quarter to win on the road for just the second time since at least 1991.
“What we did when we were down 14-0, and that’s what we’ve got to do the rest of the season,” Griffin said.
After Griffin used the no-huddle offense to get Washington a field goal, Amerson got the Redskins back in the game when he stepped in front of Flynn’s pass to Denarius Moore and ran it back 45 yards to cut Oakland’s lead to 14-10.
“It almost seemed like one of those typical games, where you know, we’re down 14 and ‘Here we go,’” linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “Same thing, same story. Nobody could really get going but that pick-six was huge. Turnovers really play key in the outcome of the game.”
The Oakland offense struggled to generate much of anything without its entire starting backfield and the Raiders lost a game they led by at least 14 points after the first quarter for the first time since 1998 against Kansas City.
“That one hurt, that one stung,” coach Dennis Allen said. “I felt the way we were able to start out the game . get to 14-0 . then we let them back in the game. Give them credit, they continued to fight. But we didn’t do enough to win the football game.
Flynn was sacked seven times, losing a fumble that set up Helu’s TD that gave Washington a 24-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Kerrigan forced the fumble on his second sack and Orakpo and Barry Cofield also brought down Flynn twice.
It was a rare good day for a Washington defense that allowed 1,464 yards of offense through three games — the most through a team’s first three games since the 1951 New York Yanks gave up 1,494, according to STATS LLC. The Yanks folded after that season.
Even the usually reliable Sebastian Janikowski was off his game for the Raiders, missing a 52-yard field goal attempt wide left midway through the third quarter after Logan Paulsen lost a fumble.
Alfred Morris, bottled up most of the game, had three carries for 29 yards on the ensuing drive before leaving with bruised ribs. Griffin capped it with a 5-yard slant to Pierre Garcon that gave the Redskins their first second-half lead of the season.
The Raiders didn’t settle on a starting quarterback until Saturday night when it was determined Pryor could not go after sustaining a concussion last Monday in Denver.
Flynn got off to an early lead in his third career start with help from Oakland’s special teams when Jeremy Stewart recovered Rashad Jennings’ blocked punt of Sav Rocca in the end zone.
Flynn got into the act as well with an impressive 81-yard drive that featured a 34-yard pass to Denarius Moore and was capped by the 18-yard TD to rookie Mychal Rivera.
Washington’s defense took over after that, harassing Flynn all afternoon.
“They definitely handle themselves back there differently,” Raiders center Stefen Wisniewski said. “So we have to try to block differently. It’s tough to change at the drop of a hat, though. We found out last night we have a different quarterback so we have to adjust to that.”
NOTES: Redskins LB London Fletcher played in his 244th consecutive regular-season game, passing Bill Romanowski for most by a defensive player since the 1970 merger. … Flynn’s seven sacks were the most for a Raiders QB since Andrew Walter was brought down nine times in 2006 at Seattle.