The afternoon ended in a heartbreaking 37-27 home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, but it was nonetheless a breakthrough game for two players drafted to form the foundation of the team’s passing game for years to come.
“I’m nowhere close to where I want to be,” Haskins said. “That should be an average game for me.”
The game provided Redskins fans with more optimism than they have had at any point this year as Haskins took another step forward in his progression. The offense was more willing to throw the ball on first down than in previous weeks, and Haskins led the team into Philadelphia territory on the first three drives of the day, scoring touchdowns twice. The second was a back-shoulder throw to Steven Sims Jr. in the back of the end zone between two defenders. He also had a pair of smart decisions on option plays that resulted in long runs by Adrian Peterson and himself.
Out wide, McLaurin ate up the Eagles for the second time this season; he put up 125 yards and a touchdown in the season opener. His best moment, however, may have been when he held his backside block as Peterson reversed field and scored on a 10-yard run.
McLaurin said he was more proud of the block, which took out the last defender between Peterson and the end zone.
“I’ve missed a couple of those when AP bounces it back,” McLaurin said. “But on that play, I knew he was going to bounce it back. I just knew. So I just wanted to give him a two-way go, not necessarily force his hand. He came up and patted me on the head and told me he appreciated me, but that’s just my job.”
McLaurin, who said Meyer was at the game as his guest (adding that it had “nothing to do with his coaching status, at all” despite many observers on social media wondering if he could be considered for the Redskins’ head-coaching at season’s end), has had strong performances throughout the year, but this was the first game in which the two former Buckeyes really put things together. Along with fellow rookie wideouts Sims Jr. and Kelvin Harmon, the future of the team’s passing game showed major growth.
Anderson shines in Kerrigan’s absence
Linebacker Ryan Anderson wasn’t able to enjoy Sunday’s last-minute loss, but the result doesn’t diminish the fact that it was the best game of the 2017 second-round pick’s career.
Anderson had a career-best two sacks and three fumbles forced, including a pivotal strip-sack of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. He also added two quarterback hits and five tackles.
“I had more opportunities,” Anderson said of his big game. “It’s been rough since I got here. For me, settling down and getting a grip of what I got to do and how I got to do it. … I’m smart enough, I understand concepts, but sometimes I just second-guess myself and don’t go with what I know and what I see.”
Anderson hasn’t yet been a regular impact player for Washington, with first-round rookie Montez Sweat starting opposite Ryan Kerrigan this season. But when Kerrigan was placed on injured reserve with a calf injury this week, it opened things up for Anderson, who took advantage of his second start of the season.
“The main thing today was I just really didn’t want to let [Kerrigan] down,” Anderson said. “He’s been talking to me all week, helping me out with the scout and personnel stuff. That game, I played for him. He’s been awesome since I got here. I couldn’t ask for a better guy to mentor me and show me the ropes.”
The Redskins may have a decision to make on the 31-year old Kerrigan this offseason as he enters the final year of his contract. A consistently productive Anderson could influence what the team decides.
Another milestone for Peterson
Peterson continues to defy the odds for a 34-year-old running back, as rushed for 66 yards and a touchdown to tie Walter Payton for fourth on the NFL’s all-time rushing touchdown list with 110 over his 13-year career.
He needs 216 yards over the final two weeks to reach 1,000 for the second consecutive season and ninth time in his career. He also passed Curtis Martin to move into fifth on the career rushing yards list with 14,102, displaying the kind of burst that indicates he might still have some good football left.
“[Payton is] someone that I looked up to and inspired me, inspired us all, really,” Peterson said. “So to be sitting there next to him, I can sit there forever and be satisfied.”
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