For the second straight preseason game, it looked as if the Redskins defense was going to allow the opponent to drive down the field and score points on the opening drive of the game.
But Daron Payne and Montae Nicholson had different plans.
On third-and-7 from the Washington 11 yard line, Payne got his hand on a pass from Andy Dalton, tipping the football up into the air. Nicholson was in the right place at the right time, corralling it for an interception. From there, he turned on the jets down the left sideline for a 96-yard touchdown.
Not only was the defensive score one of the few highlights the defensive unit has put together early in the campaign, but it featured two players who will be pivotal if Washington wants to be successful on that side of the ball.
Payne, the second-year lineman out of Alabama who is coming off a solid rookie year, is one of the many talented members of the men upfront. With the likes of Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis and others around him, a strong year from Payne will only make the defensive line that much more dangerous.
As for Nicholson, 2019 is an important season for the third-year veteran. In addition to the Redskins needing someone to step up alongside Landon Collins, a rough end to 2018 that saw Nicholson deal with off the field issues means that the safety needs to prove he can be a valuable member of the team.
Thursday's play was a positive sign, and if both Payne and Nicholson can contribute like that when the scores count, the Redskins defense will reap the rewards.
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