With Miami clinging to a 13-9 lead early in the fourth quarter and fans no doubt recalling how the Dolphins blew a late 15-point lead against Denver in their last home game, Dansby intercepted a Rex Grossman pass at the Miami 5 and ran it out to the 19.
Ten plays later, when Reggie Bush converted the turnover into his second touchdown of the game, the victory was secure.
“That was Karlos’ touchdown,” inside linebacker Kevin Burnett said. “To get a big play like that, from your captain, I don’t know if you can ask for much more as a coach.”
Cornerback Vontae Davis also had an interception, giving the Dolphins (2-7) as many of those as they had in the first eight games.
“Those are game-changing plays,” safety Yeremiah Bell said. “When we get turnovers it makes it hard on offenses. We’ve got to continue to do that.”
The defense entered the game with only three takeaways this season, fewest in the league.
Dansby, 30, was a force throughout Sunday’s game, totaling 10 tackles (eight in the first half), including a sack and two tackles for loss. He also had two passes defensed and a quarterback hurry.
“He played unbelievable,” Bell said. “He was all over the place.”
“Playing his butt off,” linebacker Jason Taylor added. “Played great last week and again today. That’s the Karlos we expect to see. When he’s playing like that we’re pretty tough.”
Dansby’s inability to make game-changing plays was a recurring theme early in the year, when he had just 22 tackles in his first five games. But he has had 41 tackles in his last four games while seeming to play with a renewed fire. That was especially evident in the last two games, in which the Dolphins have allowed four field goals and no touchdowns to Kansas City and Washington.
“I’ve been doing a lot to motivate guys, and you’ve got to do it with your actions,” said Dansby, the son of a preacher who often gives an emotional, Ray Lewis-like pre-game speech to the defense.
“I’m getting into my groove. These guys keep me on my toes, so I’ve got to be on my ‘A’ game.”
The defense was thrown a curve just prior to the game when Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he would start veteran Rex Grossman instead of John Beck, who had started three games in a row (all losses).
“With Beck in the game it was going to be more stretch plays,” Burnett said, “and with Grossman more down the field.”
The defense shut down the Redskins’ run game, holding them to 40 yards rushing until the final meaningless play of the game, when they got another 21, and kept pressure on Grossman, sacking him three times and getting another six QB hurries.
One of those hurries resulted in a pass that wound up in the hands of Davis, who didn’t travel to last week’s game because of a discipline issue and missed the previous game because of a hamstring injury.
Davis went after the ball when former University of Miami star Leonard Hankerson slipped. Davis then made his first pick of the year, returning it 28 yards down the sideline.
“It always feels good,” he said. “Once you get the opportunity you have to make the most of it.”
He wouldn’t talk further about his problems before last week’s game, which included a confrontation with receiver Brandon Marshall, who had criticized him for his work habits.