The day after he threw for 327 yards, one touchdown and a costly interception, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins lamented several missed opportunities, including poor execution in the red zone, that contributed to Washington’s 38-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
“We were three throws away, or three plays away, from having 45 points, doing nothing different, even with the interception,” Cousins said Monday on 106.7 The Fan’s “Grant and Danny” show. “So there were a lot of plays there that you just feel are missed opportunities, and at the end of the game against a good team, they come back to haunt you.”
There’s no guarantee Cousins and the Redskins would’ve reached 30 points if not for Maurice Harris’s diving, one-handed touchdown catch on Washington’s first drive. The play was a long time coming for Harris, who made an arguably even better catch in college.
On Saturday, Redskins Coach Jay Gruden wished Harris a happy 25th birthday in front of the team and then informed him that he had been promoted to the active roster from the practice squad for the first time this season. Harris, who made eight catches for the Redskins as an undrafted rookie out of Cal last year and dealt with a knee injury during training camp that kept him out of two preseason games, said he was surprised by the news. He and Cousins were less surprised by his highlight-reel grab in front of Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes.
“I had a few catches like that in high school, and I had one at Cal my redshirt sophomore year,” Harris told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Monday. “I practice that stuff, and I’m thankful that I’m able to catch and have hands like that.”
Harris had 81 catches for 1,004 yards and 10 touchdowns during his career at Cal. He only had seven catches as a sophomore for the Bears in 2013, but the one he mentioned was a doozy, a leaping, one-handed grab in the end zone against Portland State that earned him the No. 1 spot on SportsCenter’s “Top Plays.”
“First of all, I just want to give a special shout-out to the linemen for blocking, for the quarterback to be able to give me an opportunity to catch it,” Harris told reporters a couple of days after that catch, which came on a pass from current Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff. “… I tried to reach up with two [hands], but it kept rising, so I just threw my hand up and it just kind of stuck to my hand. It kind of shocked me. I just tried to make sure I came down with the ball and hold it tight.”
Cousins said after Sunday’s loss that Harris’s first catch of the season “wasn’t too much of a surprise,” because he’s been making those sorts of plays in practice all year. On Monday, Cousins elaborated on what he has seen out of the 6-foot-3 wide receiver.
“He’s a natural receiver,” Cousins said. “We think, when he was at Cal, a lot of the routes he ran and what he was asked to do were very similar to what we do here. There are some really tough catches that are not natural catches for a receiver that takes years to get good at, and he showed up Day 1 last year as an undrafted rookie and would run in there fearlessly and attack the ball with his hands, which is hard to do. It’s hard to run at a ball coming at you and catch it with your hands … as opposed to letting the ball come into your body. He does that naturally, and so really a natural receiver, great hands, and he’s done it on the scout team for the past two seasons, and we’ve been asking, ‘Can we get him up? Can we activate him? He can make plays; he’s the best player we’ve seen in practice with the scout team,’ but with the injuries, it was hard to make the numbers work to get him up. This week, we were able to do it, and he proved the coaches right in bringing him up. He made a great play.”
Paulsen asked Harris which catch was more impressive, the one he made at Cal or his touchdown Sunday.
“I don’t know; it’s tough,” Harris said. “They’re kind of different catches. The one I had in college was more of a vertical, kind of jump-in-the-air catch, and this one [Sunday] was more of a layout-type thing. They both were good catches, so I’m not really sure.”
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