The Washington Redskins could not have started 2018 any better after a decisive road win over the Arizona Cardinals, 24-6.
That win isn't worth much, though, if the Redskins can't build on it with a victory in their home opener Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, who were 4-12 last season and beaten by the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday 34-23. Washington last began a season 2-0 in 2011.
The Redskins are healthy finally so maybe the Cardinals game shouldn't have been a surprise. They had 429 yards of total offense, including 292 from running backs Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. Quarterback Alex Smith looked comfortable after limited playing time in the preseason with two touchdown passes on 21-of-30 passing and 255 yards.
"Alex did a great job, both on schedule and off schedule (plays)," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said. "That's kind of the M.O. of his career. He does a great job of managing the game, keeping us out of negative down and distance and negative plays. He does a great job of extending plays from time to time also. Couldn't be more excited about his performance and moving forward there's a lot to build on there."
Smith didn't just have Peterson and Thompson, who returned from a broken right leg sustained last Nov. 19. Tight end Jordan Reed was ready for the season after offseason surgery on both big toes. He had four catches for 48 yards. Jamison Crowder, who was limited with a groin injury during training camp, had three receptions for 32 yards. Free-agent signing Paul Richardson had four for 22 in his Redskins debut. Six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams also returned from right knee surgery and neutralized Arizona pass rusher Chandler Jones.
"Obviously it's the first time we've all played together in a while," Williams said. "We've had a lot of practice reps together. But when you put that many playmakers in the huddle it's hard not to be successful."
Washington's defense was the bigger surprise. The Redskins' defensive line, led by first-round draft picks Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, dominated the Cardinals up front. David Johnson finished with just 37 rushing yards and Arizona didn't score until the fourth quarter when it was 24-0 and the game was out of hand. The Cardinals had 14 offensive snaps in the first half.
"Gosh for a defensive player we just sitting over there drinking Kool-Aid," cornerback Josh Norman joked.
That defensive line play is bad news for the Colts, who are dealing with injuries at running back and on the offensive line.
SERIES HISTORY: 31st regular-season meeting. Colts lead series, 20-10. The two teams have met just 10 times since the Colts left Baltimore in 1984. They have never met in the playoffs. Indianapolis has won the past three meetings, including 49-27 in 2014 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Redskins last won in this series on Oct. 27, 2002, at FedEx Field.