That is, until Helu hurdled the diving Lewis and then ran through strong safety Kam Chancellor’s attempted arm tackle en route to a 28-yard touchdown. The play ignited a celebration along the Redskins’ sideline and began a 16-0 closing kick.
“Once I got the pitch,” Helu said, “the first thing was I [looked to] the edge, and then it seemed like I could get around [the corner]. Right where [Lewis] was, where I hurdled him at, was the first-down marker, and I just wanted to make sure I got it [the first down].
“I didn’t care if the safety came over and killed me in the air. I knew I’d get the first down with forward progress. I came down and ended up breaking the tackle.”
The play of the game, Grossman said. It was one the Redskins desperately needed. No doubt about it.
“It was awesome,” said Grossman, who hugged Helu before stepping to the lectern to address reporters. “He had some hard runs that aren’t always on the highlight reel, but kept us in third and manageable or second and four. We were able to pick up first downs and move the ball.
“Then, obviously, it was one of the most impressive runs I’ve ever seen. To just hurdle somebody and keep moving. . . it was just awesome. That was the play that really got us going there in the fourth quarter to get the win.”
The signs have been there recently, and Helu “got his opportunity and he ran extremely hard,” Shanahan said. “He broke some tackles and made the big plays. . . . I thought he ran extremely hard throughout the whole game.”
Wisely, Helu praised Washington’s offensive line, showing he truly has learned a lot quickly. “I was just a product of them blocking well,” he said.
It was more than just having holes to run through. Helu showed something special. He gave the Redskins a reason to hope — and they’re eager so see what he does next.