Linebacker Houston Bates recorded the first two sacks of his NFL career against the Browns on Thursday, and they occurred on back-to-back plays.
After nearly all Redskins players had stepped on the field Thursday night against the Browns, and after many had made at least one impressionable moment, either to themselves or to their coaches, linebacker Houston Bates was still searching for one.
Instead, he found two.
Check out the top photos from the Washington Redskins' 2015 Preseason Week 1 matchup against the Cleveland Browns Aug. 13, 2015, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
With less than two minutes left in the game, and the Redskins ahead 20-17, Bates zeroed in on Browns quarterback Thad Lewis, by then in hurry-up shotgun mode aiming to drive down the field, and collected two consecutive sacks, his first tackles for a loss in his NFL career.
"It's really amazing," Bates said. "Coming from college you know it was tough getting sacks. Coming in your first NFL game and getting two back-to-back, it was surreal. I'm just glad we're 1-0 though. That's all that matters."
Lining up against offensive lineman Michael Bowie, Bates noticed his opponent's approach early on and looked to take advantage of his repetetive stances. With time to reflect in the locker room, he got technical about how he approached the matchups.
"I just noticed the offensive tackle's sets," he said. "I'd been going against him pretty much the whole game, and I noticed he was setting a little wide so I was going to try and work my counter. I worked my counter and got it on my first one. He under-set the second one and wasn't expecting the counter, and I ran around him. So, it was all just a chess match."
Ever since the end of his college career, which ended with a 4.5-sack performance in the Heart Of Dallas Bowl, Bates has been slowly transitioning from defensive end, where he excelled for Louisiana Tech and Illinois, into the linebacker position.
He knew he would eventually have to move inside due to his size – 6-foot-3, 250 pounds – but found encouragement from head coach Jay Gruden during the team's minicamp. In a crowded room with Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley and Will Compton, Bates also knows special teams play is critical for his chances.
Prior to Thursday's game, Bates couldn't recall any game in his football career where he recorded back-to-back sacks.
"I have in a scrimmage, but that was only time," Bates said. "Never in a game though. This was a good time to do it though."
And while most rookies Thursday claimed they didn't let any nerves bother them, Bates was honest about his jitters and his excitement once they disappeared.
"Going into an NFL stadium is crazy," Bates said. "You never think you'd be there and then go and perform and do well and win a game. It's a pretty incredible feeling."