Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen believes it made a difference.
“I loved it,” said Allen, who played college football at Alabama. “I come from Coach [Nick] Saban, so I’m used to that. That didn’t bother me one bit at all. I guess it worked. … Some guys who might not be used to it, it definitely did give them a wake-up call. But at the end of the day, you get paid to do a job, and that’s what we’re here to do.”
The Redskins won a football game Sunday for just the second time in nearly a calendar year. It wasn’t necessarily pretty; Washington was 4 for 14 on third down, and the Lions managed eight more first downs and 164 more yards. But Washington’s young offense responded when it needed to, and the defense had its best performance since a 9-0, rain-soaked loss to the San Francisco 49ers more than a month ago.
The players simply seemed to have more energy from the beginning of the game, something Callahan had thought was lacking in the previous week’s loss to the New York Jets.
“I challenge our team every week. It’s just a matter of how you challenge your team,” Callahan said. “I think there’s differences of how you approach your team and talk to them and let them know how you truly feel about certain things. … Maybe just a little bit different tone than normal. It was heartfelt. It was passionate. I think the message was really clear that we needed to start fast, play harder, play better than what we’d been doing.”
The victory was partly overshadowed by rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins missing the final play of the game — a quarterback kneeldown that Case Keenum had to come in for — while taking selfies with fans near the stands because he thought the game was over. While most players in the locker room seemed to dismiss it as a silly mistake by a young player having the biggest moment of his NFL career, Callahan said he was disappointed with Haskins’s actions.
“It’s a 60-minute game, and it’s not over till it’s over,” said Callahan, who added that he would not discipline Haskins for the gaffe. “I think he was kind of caught up with the emotion of the game itself. Kind of youthful exuberance, I would call it. It got away from him a little bit. But he’s fully aware that, professionally, his mind should be on the game throughout the duration of 60 minutes.”
Haskins’s celebration, while the most scrutinized, was not the only one among Washington’s players, seeming to prove just how important the win was amid a disappointing season. Yes, the victory came against a struggling Lions team quarterbacked by backup Jeff Driskel, who was filling in for the injured Matthew Stafford, but it also featured some key contributions from several young players.
Rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin was a difference-maker throughout, and he hauled in a 17-yard catch on third down with 20 seconds left to set up the winning field goal. Fellow rookie wideout Kelvin Harmon had a spectacular one-handed catch as part of his second consecutive strong outing. Rookie Steven Sims Jr. returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown and had another for 33 yards.
The defense also had a strong day with six sacks and three interceptions, including the game-sealing pick by Fabian Moreau, who started in place of Josh Norman.
“That was a different type of win in the sense that . . . I felt like that was a team win,” McLaurin said. “Special teams with Steven Sims and the way they blocked for him to get that touchdown. . . . Defense with some picks, some turnovers. Offense with some explosive plays — that’s what we’ve been missing in our offense. I felt like that was really more of a complete team win. It showed us our potential going forward.”
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