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Mike Shanahan impressed with Richard Crawford’s performance

Richard Crawford will hold onto the Redskins’ punt return duties. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan obviously liked the play of rookie cornerback Richard Crawford, whose 64-yard punt return in overtime positioned Washington for Kai Forbath’s game-winning field goal against Baltimore Sunday.

Asked about Crawford’s play, Shanahan praised the decisiveness with which the rookie – who this week replaced a struggling Brandon Banks – ran.

In the first game as a returner of his NFL career, and during his first playing time in seven weeks, Crawford recorded 100 return yards – the most by a Redskins player since Antwaan Randle El’s 111 yards on Oct. 22, 2006. Crawford’s 64-yard return also was Washington’s longest in the regular season since Santana Moss’ 80-yard runback in 2008.

“What Richard did was he took the ball, tried to get upfield and made some people miss. If you can get 10 yards on a punt return, you’re doing great. That’s what he was able to do: catch the ball, turn upfield and get some positive yards. When he was doing that…a couple of punt returns for big yardage. The last one was the difference in the game.”

Crawford – drafted in the seventh round out of Southern Methodist this past April – had hoped to redeem himself in his first playing time since he was removed from the lineup after struggling in pass coverage early in the year. He said he didn’t mind if he helped his team on defense or special teams, but just wanted an opportunity. As Shanahan said, Crawford made the most of it.

“When you give people opportunities, you never know if they’re going to take advantage of them,” Shanahan said. “Richard did a great job taking advantage of his opportunity. … When you get 100 yards in returns, that’s pretty impressive. That’s the difference in winning and losing.”