With a tie game and time winding down, the Redskins knew they would need big efforts both on offense and defense to secure their first victory of the season. In a matter of two plays from scrimmage, they got exactly that, taking the lead and preserving it with quick heroics to beat the Rams, 27-20, in Los Angeles.
The common theme between both plays -- a touchdown pass hauled in by wide receiver Ryan Grant and an interception snagged by linebacker Mason Foster – required trust and patience, a reliance on those around them and their own abilities.
It began with offense, and after nine plays taking up more than five minutes thanks to a steady run-game, which remained healthy throughout the entire day, quarterback Kirk Cousins faced third down and the looming possibility that the Redskins might have to settle for a field goal with less than two minutes remaining. Instead of running, and forcing the Rams to burn their final timeout, head coach Jay Gruden opted for a pass play.
Cousins dropped back, bought time, then rolled to his left, waiting for Grant to gain space in the corner of the end zone, where he dropped a pass into his hands with enough room for Grant to tap his toes and score six points. The 11-yard pass capped a 10-play drive that ran five minutes and 27 seconds off the clock.
“It’s not about me, man, it’s about Jay [Gruden], the offensive lineman and Kirk Cousins being able to let the play develop and get me the ball,” Grant said modestly. “There was a defensive end aligned on top of me, so I had to wait to see what he was going to do to make my move.”
After a kick return to the Rams’ 19-yard line, Los Angeles tried to put together a final drive to tie the game. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp lined up in the slot, which Foster recognized might indicate a similar play run from earlier in the game. He was alerted and affirmed by his defensive backs and decided to jump the short out route he presumed would be called.
It was, and without quarterback Jared Goff accounting for Foster, the linebacker outstretched his hands and collected his first interception, running towards the end zone before eventually falling down to seal the victory.
“They had widened the stack out a little bit, so I felt like earlier in the game I barely missed one and I told Kendall [Fuller] and [Zach Brown] next time we see it I’m just going to go play it – I’m going to go jump it,” Foster said. “It just so happens that the time that we [saw] it again was when we needed it the most. But it was something that the coaches had alerted all week, something that everybody talked about, I just happened to be the one to make the play. So, it’s a great team win.”
To add to the heroics, Foster had come out of the game earlier in the second half with a shoulder injury, and he said after the game it needed to be popped back in and bandaged up underneath his chest protector. It was one of many injuries the Redskins battled through.
“It is something that we had harped on all week,” Foster said of the resiliency of the team. “Just keep playing through everything and play together. Don’t get down, things are going to happen, they’re a good team – everybody’s good in the NFL – but just keep playing together and we’ll find a way to get it done, and I feel like that’s exactly what we did today.”
For a team that struggled to execute when it counted against the Eagles last week, both sides of the ball found ways to correct some of those mistakes and come through when it mattered most. Foster and Grant’s plays epitomized that focus and the Redskins left Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with a victory, and more importantly, the confidence in knowing they are capable of finishing out games the way they want.
“I mean it definitely feels great,” Foster said. “I felt like I had to redeem myself for some of the plays last week I felt like I could have been better on. So, everybody messes up, everybody makes mistakes, but if you play together as a team and keep grinding, you’ll find a way to get a win, and I think that’s what we did today.”