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Jahan Dotson reflects on two-touchdown rookie debut


Call it a rookie mistake, but Jahan Dotson was so excited to see his family after making his regular season debut that he forgot he had to address the media.

It was one of the only miscues the rookie had all afternoon.

After spending all of OTAs and training showing why the Commanders were wise to use their first-round pick on him, Dotson doubled down on that during the team's 28-22 win over the Jaguars with 40 yards and two touchdowns, both of which showed off why his hands were so touted leading up to the draft.

It was about as good of a performance as one can expect from their first NFL game. For Dotson, it was the realization of a childhood dream.

"I knew since I was a little kid that I wanted to do this and excel at the highest level," Dotson said. "I devoted all my time throughout high school, throughout college making sure that I was ready for this moment."

Not that people should be surprised by the way Dotson played in the first game of the Commanders era. The former Penn State Nittany Lion did not get many targets in the preseason, but it was clear from the precise routes and impressive catch radius he showed in practice that Dotson was going to have a positive impact on Washington's offense.

Playing well in the preseason is one matter; carrying that over into the regular season is another entirely. Dotson did not have much trouble proving himself when the game actually mattered, though, and it did not take long for him to show off the difference he can make for his team.

With the Commanders facing a second-and-6 at the Jaguars' 7-yard line, Dotson stuttered his feet to get about a yard of separation on Shaquill Griffin. Carson Wentz lobbed the pass towards the back of the end zone, and Dotson made the leap to secure the pass and got both feet in bounds, giving the Commanders a 14-3 lead.

"It was definitely pretty cool getting that first one under my belt," Dotson said. "Carson just giving me a chance, we've been talking about it ever since I got here. I can make plays for this team and that's what I was able to do."

It was a nice moment for Dotson. He has the ball tucked away in his locker at the team facility and plans to give it to his parents, who rented a party bus with the rest of his family to attend his first game.

"I've just been working all my life for this moment," Dotson said. "To be able to do that, especially in front of my family and friends, it was definitely a cool moment."

As great as the play was, it was outshined by the moment that came in the fourth quarter. This time, the Commanders were down by two points and in need of a play on third-and-8 at the Jaguars' 24-yard line.

The play required Dotson to make a double move on cornerback Tyson Campbell before sprinting for the end zone. Dotson knew the play would work; he had lost count of how many out routes he had run in the previous three quarters, and Campbell was squatting low every time. Dotson knew that if he could pull off the move correctly, he would be open.

So, naturally, Dotson was excited for the opportunity to win the game.

"I was ready to put the game to an end come out 1-0 and do something exciting for my team to help us get over that hump."

The trio of Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel put up a combined 160 yards of total offense and four touchdowns during the Washington Commanders' 28-22 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Check out the top photos from their performances. (Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

Dotson did exactly that. The double move worked as he predicted, and he worked his way around Campbell and left his feet to make the touchdown grab to give Washington a six-point lead.

After the game, Wentz called it "a heck of a play."

"I saw him do it all training camp," Wentz said. "I'm just glad that the world gets to see what he can do now, too."

And there is a good chance people will pay more attention to Dotson after his performance, which was the first time a rookie has scored a game-winning touchdown reception in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime in his first career game since Ernest Wilford did so in Week 1 of the 2004 season, but do not count on him being caught up in that.

Instead, Dotson is already focused on what is coming next for the Commanders and him in his career.

"I'm ready to beat the Lions right now," Dotson said. "Going against my former teammate Amani Oruwariye, I can't come out with an L, so I'm definitely going to have to put [something] on next week, maybe score a couple more touchdowns."

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