It’s a particularly challenging thing, balancing individual achievements with a team defeat, especially on a football field. It’s why safety D.J. Swearinger Sr. didn’t feel the need to expand on his afternoon, in which he collected two interceptions that couldn’t further aid the Redskins' outcome.
“We just made two plays but they weren’t enough to win so, I don’t really care about them,” he said following the Redskins’ 21-9 defeat to the Colts in the home opener Sunday afternoon at FedExField.
Those turnovers came at crucial times for the Redskins -- opportunities to climb back in the game -- but the offense couldn’t turn them into touchdowns. And despite holding quarterback Andrew Luck to 179 yards passing, the defense couldn’t prevent the Colts’ third touchdown in the fourth quarter, a score that effectively put the game out of reach.
“We just didn’t make the stops at the end of the game that we needed to, we started real slow on the first drive,” Swearinger said. “First and last drives cost us as a defense.”
With the Redskins trailing by seven after an opening scoring drive from Indianapolis that provided a window into the way the offense would generate points – methodical drives, relying on the run game, short passes and third down conversions – Swearinger showed off his athleticism.
On the third play of the second quarter, linebacker Mason Foster tipped a pass, intended for T.Y. Hilton, a couple yards past the line of scrimmage, and Swearinger sprinted over and made a diving interception in the open field, keeping his arms above the grass to secure the pick.
The turnover showed off Swearinger’s awareness mid-play and, for the moment, put the Redskins in solid field position, as he gained a couple yards around the Redskins’ 43-yard line. The team crept into Colts territory but ultimately settled for a field goal, dampening Swearinger’s impact.
Swearinger continued to jolt the defense awake early in the third quarter, as Washington trailed 14-3. On another third down play, Luck targeted Hilton over the middle, this time throwing into a tight window. Foster framed the right side while Swearinger peeled in front of the throw and came up with his second pick, running down to the Colts’ 31-yard line.
It was the second time in as many seasons that Swearinger collected two interceptions, the last time coming against the Vikings, also at FedExField. Following the turnover, the Redskins offense picked up one first down but couldn’t keep the rhythm, finishing the drive with another Dustin Hopkins field goal.
“Swear did a great job of presenting us with two opportunities and just as an offense we weren’t able to execute at the end of the day,” running back Adrian Peterson said.
“That was big turnovers for us being able to get the ball back into the offense’s hands, put some points up on the board,” cornerback Josh Norman said. “I think we got three points out of it, which you know, we could have got more. But at the end of the day we’ve got to be able to take that into our hands and score, touch that box because they need us, and we need them.
"He had a good game today, he really did," Norman added. "He brought us back to life with some of those plays he made and those tips, and then he had one where he read the quarterback, like I said earlier, they was reading eyes, so he was making plays where we needed it and that was a big key for us.”
Unlike last week, when the Redskins offense sustained along drives and ate valuable clock, aiding the defense, Sunday had the opposite effect. Despite the turnovers, and the occasional stops in the third quarter, the Redskins offense went in fits in starts, preventing the defense from resting.
That hurt against the Colts run game, which combined for 104 yards, as Indianapolis converted more than 50 percent on third down and started to wear down the defense in the fourth quarter. That led to a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ate up nearly six minutes of clock to extend the Colts' lead.
It’s a performance the defense knows can improve, and one that shows how each side of the ball impacts the other.
“I’m not going to lie to you I was surprised,” Norman said. “We had a solid form before us this week in the running game because of how much we shut it down last week, to where this week is it was opened up for them. That was the biggest thing I was surprised about, I didn’t see them doing that. I saw them opening up the ball a little more. Fifty-three times he threw it last week, you expect they’re about to come in and, you know, show a bunch to us and we just got to be better in our executions and will. You know we’re 1-1 right now and no need to panic but we’ve got another opponent coming in next week and we’ll have better chances.”