Only the coaches couldn’t find him.
“We were looking for him,” interim coach Bill Callahan later said.
The offensive linemen stood at the Detroit 25-yard line, along with the wide receivers, the running backs and the Lions’ defense. The referee held the ball, but Haskins wasn’t there.
It wasn’t until after backup quarterback Case Keenum ran onto the field, took the snap and dropped to his knee that the team learned what had happened to Haskins. He was standing next to the stands, snapping selfies with fans — including one with a man in a bright blue jacket.
“I think he thought it was over. We’ll have to find out,” Callahan said.
“I was so hype, I broke a water bottle,” Haskins said during his news conference when asked what had happened at the end of his first NFL win. “I look up and we’re in victory [formation]. I thought the game was over with already, but I’ll get it next time.”
The Redskins are 2-9. Their only other victory came when the then-winless Miami Dolphins failed to complete a two-point conversion at the end of a one-point game. “Next time” has been a rare commodity for them this season.
And so on the day when something at last went right for the Redskins, when the quarterback of the future gave a glimpse of how good that future might be, they were left to wonder how much more he has to grow at 22. Yes, he had moved them 87 yards in two drives over the final 5:31, setting up two field goals that turned a 16-13 deficit into a 19-16 victory. But he was snapping selfies when there was still a snap to be taken.
“I don’t laugh at it,” a perplexed Callahan said of Haskins missing the last play. “I’m happy we won. We’ll address that. I’m just pleased that we won the game. The interception was fabulous to close the game, and I . . . I don’t know [about the selfies]. I’ll have to find out.”
Still, what happened in the last two seconds did not cloud what happened in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter as Haskins led the offense. Until then he had struggled, his third uneven performance in as many starts, with several missed passes — two that could have been touchdowns — a lost fumble and a pass intercepted. He later said his right wrist “was pretty banged up,” affecting his accuracy, but he did not say how much the wrist hurt.
Washington’s only touchdown was a 91-yard kickoff return by Steven Sims Jr. early in the second quarter. With the Redskins down three points and starting a late, desperate drive on their 22-yard line, little seemed promising.
But the players who stood in the huddle with Haskins were impressed by his poise.
“No more jitters for him,” guard Ereck Flowers said. “He made the calls in the huddle, and he made some big plays.”
Quickly, Haskins moved the team upfield with quick passes to Adrian Peterson, Terry McLaurin, Wendell Smallwood and Derrius Guice to push the Redskins to Detroit’s 24-yard line with 1:58 to play, only to miss McLaurin on a third-down pass that was just out of McLaurin’s reach in the end zone.
After the play, Haskins was furious, knowing he had missed what could have been a spectacular go-ahead touchdown. While Hopkins kicked the field goal that tied the score, Haskins banged his helmet on the bench. He shouted to McLaurin, then threw his arm around McLaurin’s shoulder.
“Let it go,” Sims said, sitting nearby on the bench. “We’ve got to keep fighting.”
Then came a last, final chance, after Detroit quarterback Jeff Driskel fired a pass near midfield that was intercepted by Quinton Dunbar at the Washington 46.
“Whatever happened in the game is over with. It’s a new series, a new opportunity and a new play,” Haskins said after the game.
He missed his first pass, again to McLaurin, but scrambled for 11 yards and a first down on his second play, missed another throw but then hit Kelvin Harmon with a five-yard pass and McLaurin for a pivotal 17-yard gain, setting up the final field goal that Hopkins hit, sending what was left of an announced crowd of 57,754 into delirium.
“It’s fun, because you know how much work [Haskins] puts in,” said Harmon, a fellow rookie. “You know how talented he is. To me, it’s scary to see all the younger guys — me, Terry, Dwayne. It’s a lot to look forward to.”
On a day when the Redskins moved closer to the future, essentially benching star cornerback Josh Norman and relying more on players such as Moreau and rookie Jimmy Moreland, their quarterback of the future led them to a late victory that should provide at least a little hope for tomorrow.
But Haskins’s jubilant selfies, snapped with fans as another quarterback finished his game, will keep everyone talking.
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