In what turned out to be a wild ending between the Redskins and Cowboys, no one had more play into the late-game scoring than DeSean Jackson, as he fumbled a punt and then recovered to score a touchdown.
When DeSean Jackson was brought in by the Washington Redskins last year, it was with the intent that his game breaking skills would be used to the fullest.
As he once again proved to be one of the most difficult wide receivers to cover in the NFL last year, recording his fourth career 1,000-yard season, the Redskins wanted to extend their use of his abilities to special teams this season.
After returning a punt last Sunday, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said they planned on using him more often back deep in punt return.
They did against the Cowboys.
With less than two minutes left in a 9-9 game, Jackson was sent out to provide some magic in front of an electric home crowd at FedExField. As he twisted and turned, removing defenders from his vicinity in the process, after fielding a 41-yard punt, the worst possible outcome happened.
Jackson fumbled within the Redskins' own 20-yard line. The referees would go under the hood, confirming the call on the field that he fumbled just before his elbow hit the ground.
"Just one of those things I kind of felt like I had some open space," Jackson said. "And you can always say 'I should've done this,' or 'I should've done that,' but just one of those things where the game's played and the speed of the game is so fast out there. … I probably should've ran out of bounds or something like that, but just being a play maker and trying to make plays for my team didn't come up my way."
But Jackson's night was far from over.
But Jackson's night was far from over.
For almost the entire game, whether it was untimely penalties or drives just simply stalling out, the Redskins couldn't put together a complete drive against an aggressive defense, settling for three field goal makes along with a miss through the first 58 minutes.
After the Cowboys found the end zone with 1:14 left in the contest following Jackson's mishap, the Redskins would capitalize on good field position following a 41-yard Rashad Ross kick return with an additional 15 yards tacked on due to a facemask penalty.
On the Redskins' fourth play of the drive on 1st-and-10, Kirk Cousins would find Jackson for a 28-yard touchdown.
"I pride myself in making big plays in this league and doing what I need to do to be at the condition I need to be at when my number's called and the play is called to go my way," Jackson said. "Definitely [a] frustrating thing, but I did what I needed to do to kind of get it out of my head and just come back and make a play for my team.
The 28-yard was the Redskins' longest play on offense, as they simply couldn't get very much going on the night, especially when attempting any intermediate or deep passes.
What made it more frustrating was the fact the Redskins got just three points off of three turnovers.
"Ideally we felt we should have put more points on the board," Jackson said. "We wasn't able to do that off of the turnovers. …But as an offense, we need to do a better job at that collectively. Coach Gruden came here after the loss and just said 'with opportunities we give them, we got to take better advantage of that.'"
As Jackson tried to keep his head up after the game, Gruden talked with him at his locker before he spoke with the media.
The head coach's message was all positive.
"He just said that I'm one of his guys that he trusts," Jackson said. "If he had the chance again to play it back, he would do the same thing. I'm glad he has the trust in me and I had that trust in myself. Like I said, that's the lack of flavors, you know, I laid an egg, I messed up. Had the chance to come back in the game, make a play. I made a play for my team and unfortunately it came down to us losing by a field goal. We give credit when credit is due. They played us a great game. Regardless of the records, regardless of our division, they played hats off football and beat us here at home. We just got to figure out a way to go in next week to Chicago and get a win."