Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins missed two first half field goals against Dallas but isn't going to allow those attempts to impact his confidence down the stretch.
In his first two years as the Redskins' kicker, Dustin Hopkins has emerged as one of the best in the league at his position. For the most part, he's been near automatic but has experienced a difficult last month.
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' defense and special teams in their 2016 Week 12 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys Nov. 24, 2016, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Hopkins had a busy afternoon on Thursday, as he was on the field for four field goal attempts, two extra point tries, and six kickoffs – including two onside kick attempts.
Despite his early success in the league, Thursday afternoon was a struggle for Hopkins.
In the first quarter, after the Cowboys scored on their opening drive after just seven plays, Hopkins missed a 43-yard attempt on the Redskins' ensuing drive. Hopkins had to kick the attempt twice, as the Redskins called a timeout right before Hopkins knocked the first attempt through.
"Somebody mentioned that to me earlier, it didn't even register with me," he said. "I didn't even think about it until it was brought up here after the game. That's not the issue, I just have to hit a good ball. [Icing] has nothing to do with it, it is just a matter of hitting the ball I need to hit. I thought I struck it well, it was just not on target."
Later in the half, the Redskins had a chance to cut the Cowboys' lead to four, when Hopkins missed a 55-yard attempt wide-right. The kick had enough leg, but the sun was shining right in Hopkins' face, so he was unable to fully pick up his target to aim at.
"[The sun] surely didn't help, but that's not an excuse for missing the kick," he said. "As I'm looking down, the ball is sitting there' it was a great hold, great snap, and I just need to make it. So it didn't help, but that's not an excuse."
Hopkins would make two short field goals in the second quarter, as the Redskins entered the half trailing by 11.
With just under nine and a half minutes left in the game, Redskins quarterback would find a streaking DeSean Jackson down the right sideline for a 67-yard touchdown, cutting the Dallas lead to just five.
As the momentum started to shift in the Redskins' favor, they wanted to do something to try and catch Dallas off-guard. With the defense struggling to slow the Cowboys offense, the Redskins tried a surprise onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. But the Cowboys would recover.
"On the surprise onside, I hit it a little too long," Hopkins said. "I didn't give our guys a shot."
Dallas would take the great field position and turn it into a touchdown drive, as running back Ezekiel Elliott would score from one-yard out for the second time in the game.
But again, the Redskins' offense responded. Cousins found tight end Jordan Reed in the back of the end zone with two minutes left, cutting the Dallas lead to five again. It would be up to Hopkins and the special teams unit to recover an onside kick in order for Washington to have one final chance.
Hopkins hit a solid ball, and the Cowboys weren't initially able to recover it. As both teams scrambled for the ball, the ball rolled out of bounds – resulting in a penalty and the Cowboys ball.
"I don't know if I saw it wrong because there were a lot of bodies going forward, but it seemed like their guy stopped it in bounds, and it sat there for maybe a quarter, half a second," Hopkins said. "I didn't see what exactly happened after that. That's what I thought I saw, but then they said the kick went out of bounds I guess."
With five misses over the Redskins' last five games, Hopkins isn't quite on the pace he was to start the season. Still, head coach Jay Gruden is not worried about his kickeras the Redskins embark on another playoff run.
"I don't have any thought that he's going to wilt down the stretch," Gruden said. "I think he's going to be fine."