Cam Sims wasn't going to a let a dropped pass that led to a Jets interception ruin his home opener on Thursday night. Instead of beating himself up over the mistake, the former Alabama wide receiver stepped up to give the Redskins offense a lift.
Leading Washington once again in receiving with three catches for 57 yards, Sims came up with perhaps the biggest play of the game when he caught a 20-yard pass from Kevin Hogan with four seconds left. His catch set Dustin Hopkins up for the game-winning, 40-yard field goal to give the Redskins their first preseason victory of the season at FedExField.
"I couldn't get down on myself," Sims said. "I knew I had to move on to the next play. I made the next play and then, but it took away from the touchdown. Then, I dropped the fade, so I knew I had to make up for it. So that's what happened."
The drop that resulted in a turnover still stood in the back of Sims' mind. His teammates, however, knew he performed better last week than what he was displaying in his first plays. Inspired by the constant encouragement, Monroe, La., native finished the first half by making an acrobatic catch in the end zone, although it was called back due to a penalty.
Having the most receiving yards among Redskins wide receivers in the preseason, that gave Hogan and head coach Jay Gruden the confidence to keep going to Sims in the passing game. Despite a drop that cost the Redskins points, Gruden was pleased with the fact that the rookie continued to keep his focus and come through for the team.
"I mean it's not always going to be perfect in pro football," Gruden said. "Sometimes you're going to have some things happen to you that you didn't expect but he bounced back and made some big plays. Even the touchdown that was called back was an unbelievable catch. So, I was glad to see him show up. He didn't hang his head, he just came back and kept fighting. What a great sign for a pro athlete because that will happen from time to time with a key drop."
What helped Sims make the adjustment from college games to NFL preseason was working with Hogan throughout offseason workouts and training camp. Being on the same page helped the two point out what they could improve on from a chemistry standpoint, making the adjustments on the practice field.
When it was time to run a play, the 6-foot-5 receiver executed the plays in practice, resulting in him getting more looks in the preseason games. Sims was not in awe of his first NFL moments - he embraced them.
"I think what you guys saw tonight is kind of what it's been like going back to OTAs even for Cam," quarterback Alex Smith said. "Guy just hasn't blinked since he's been in there. Given opportunities, he's made the most of them. Just kind of continues to fight, plays big, so yeah. I'm definitely excited for him. We got a lot of talented young players. Certainly he's one of them."
Check out game photos of the Washington Redskins' preseason home opener against the New York Jets at FedExField in Landover, Md.
Sims used his mistakes as motivation for the team, having the desire to put the Redskins in a position to win when he felt like his mistake could have turned the game into a loss. He forgot the drop quickly and kept telling himself that he was going to make a big play to make up for it.
As the ball was in the air with the clock winding down, Sims knew that his moment was within reach. Once Sims came down with the ball, it was nothing but smiles for the Redskins sidelines.
Setting the Redskins up for the win did not come as a surprise to him. It was an expectation for a catch he felt he should've made three quarters earlier.
"That's with every receiver. You gotta let it go, but it's still in the back of your head," Sims said. "You feel like you got to make a play. You gotta make up for it. At the same time you got to let it go. At the same time you got to bounce back from it."