As McCourty's confidence waned, his teammates kept feeding him words of encouragement, and he appreciated their support.
"I got a little frustrated, but I never really got out of the game where I was just totally out," McCourty said. "I stayed in it, and my teammates did a great job helping me out."
McCourty was beat for a 51-yard pass to wide receiver Donte Stallworth and a touchdown to Jabar Gaffney, among other plays in the first half. And McCourty was guilty of an 11-yard pass interference penalty on third-and-18, which sparked a drive that yielded that touchdown. The 2010 All-Pro cornerback also collided with linebacker Jerod Mayo, who hobbled around for a few moments after the play.
McCourty intercepted his first pass of the season in the second quarter, but the play was called back due to a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty on Andre Carter. As McCourty said after the game, that's just how his day had been going at that point.
"Just told him to keep pushing," Mayo said. "Devin's a good player. [I told him], eventually, he'll start making plays."
And that's how it happened. McCourty broke up a pass intended for Stallworth late in the third quarter, and he knocked the ball out of Gaffney's hands on a third-down pass on the Redskins' following possession in the fourth quarter.
It was no coincidence that the Patriots were playing much better defense when McCourty got back on his game.
"It felt good just to see Dev out there doing a good job," Mayo said. "He came to play in the second half."
McCourty's performance has fallen off from his excellent rookie campaign. It started when the coaching staff gave him too much responsibility in man coverage during the first few weeks of the regular season, and his instincts and ball skills have waned throughout much of the year, too.
His struggles might have to do with a lack of confidence, but he restored it during the second half Sunday and attributed the late success to his teammates.
"My teammates did a great job," McCourty said. "Coaches on the sideline kept saying, 'Just keep playing, keep going at it.' I really give credit to them helping me fight through that."
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