Washington's Ryan Kerrigan: 'Why not make something happen while we're here?'

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Kevin Brown
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Ryan Kerrigan: 'Why not make something happen while we're here?' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Washington head coach Ron Rivera asked media and his team all week long a simple question leading up to his team's first playoff appearance in six years against a scary Tampa Bay offense. 

"Why not us?" 

That question resonated with veteran defensive lineman Ryan Kerrigan, who told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay how the public's perception of how Washington reached the postseason could work in their favor. 

"Well, a lot of people will harp on the NFC East and 'Oh, 7-9. Do they deserve to be in the playoffs?' and all this stuff," Kerrigan said. "The fact of the matter is that we're here, why not make something happen while we're here. We have the team, we have the players, we have the coaches to be able to do that. It's a matter of coming out fast to build that confidence and sustaining that throughout the game."

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Getting out to a fast start Saturday night will be paramount for Washington's chances at pulling off an upset against Tom Brady and company. If the likes of Kerrigan, Chase Young, and Montez Sweat can deliver the first punch by way of winning their individual matchups to get pressure on Brady, then this defense has a real chance to be disruptive. 

Kerrigan has won the NFC East with Washington twice before, but he's never been on a Burgundy and Gold division-winning team with this much talent on the defensive side of the ball. 

"It's pretty cool. We knew going into the season that we could be a problem for some opposing offenses and I think for the large part we were," Kerrigan said. "And that's without Matt Ioannidis in the mix as well. If we had him in the mix who knows how much better we would have been. So yeah, it's been cool to be a part of a D-Line that's so deep."

That defensive depth has turned into on-field production, catapulting Washington towards the top of several statistical categories. 

"I saw the rankings of where we finished in terms of total defense, yards, things like that, and it's pretty remarkable with how we were able to play this year," Kerrigan said. "We definitely are humming defensively right now." 

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There's a difference between humming defensively against the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Nate Sudfeld and Brady, however. At age 43, Brady still has been performing at the top of his ability in year No. 21 in the NFL. Still, Brady's temperament will be tested by a defensive unit that'll do everything in its power to bother and hit the future Hall-of-Famer. 

Like his teammate Chase Young, Kerrigan wants the challenge Brady, and all his record six Super Bowls and 30 postseason victories present. 

"He's the standard in the NFL. I don't think anyone would disagree with me there," Kerrigan said. "So, when you're going up against a guy like him you want to get there, want to be a difference-maker in the game, especially with someone who's accomplished and is still as good as ever as he is."

Saturday night may be the final time Washington fans get to enjoy watching Kerrigan make plays. Should Brady's Buccaneers come out on top, Kerrigan's 10 campaigns with Washington could come to a close as the former Purdue Boilermaker is a free agent after this season. In more of a limited role in 2020-21, Kerrigan produced 5.5 sacks after notching 90 sacks over the 140 games he played over nine seasons in Washington. 

Even if Kerrigan is bummed out his family can't attend what could be his final outing at FedEx Field, he has a chance to show he can still make an impact. 

"The possibility for sure has hit me," Kerrigan said. "But I mean with that and even leaving the field against the Panthers I felt confident that we would win against Philadelphia and we'd get to play at FedEx again. I don't know what the future holds, but regardless it's been a hell of run here and hopefully that can continue to go on and we can take care of business this weekend."