After a slow start to the season, wide receiver Jamison Crowder continued his recent resurgence with another big game in the Redskins' Thanksgiving game win over the Giants.
After the biggest game of his season, one that propelled the Redskins to a much-needed Thanksgiving victory over the Giants, wide receiver Jamison Crowder reflected with more certainty about the unexpected struggles he had experienced in the first half the year.
Crowder, still in his pads by his locker, felt he was pressing early on, trying to overcompensate for a lack of production and nagging injuries, primarily to his hamstring, that prevented him from full practice weeks and finding a rhythm with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Over his first six games, Crowder caught 19 passes for just 149 yards, statistics that didn't reflect the athleticism and playmaking speed he had shown over his first two years in the league.
But as more injuries to the team's offensive weapons piled up, Crowder necessarily became a greater focus in the pass game, earned more targets and took advantage of them. Entering Thursday, Crowder had caught 20 passes for 271 yards, returning to his reliable pass-catching self, though still in search of his first touchdown.
That came at critical time on Thursday night, aiding the Redskins' 20-10 win at FedExField, as Crowder provided bursts of electricity in an otherwise offensive struggle.
"I'm feeling good," Crowder said. "I've just been going out there trying to play relaxed, not really think about much and try to go for the homerun play every time. Just let the game come to me and I think that's really been a key the last few games."
Throughout the game, one that churned in fits and starts, Crowder provided extensions to drives and helped switch field position on multiple sequences. That started with acquiring the team's first third-down conversion, a one-handed catch thrown behind him that gained three yards and helped the offense let out a sigh of relief. Two drives later, Cousins bought time in the pocket and threw to Crowder wide open down the middle of the field for 38 yards to get the team into Giants territory for the first time.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' postgame celebration after beating the New York Giants.
In the second quarter, Crowder busted open a big gain again, grabbing a seam pass and darting through the defense, nearly outrunning the secondary for a 33-yard gain. After a one-yard rush from Samaje Perine, a sack and false start, Cousins scrambled on third down in the red zone, bought more time and found Crowder open in the back of the end zone.
"It was just, really a play that Kirk [Cousins] made," Crowder said. "It was an off-schedule type of play. I had a corner route and Kirk was able to get out the pocket. I was just able to kind of settle in the end zone between the defenders and he was able to find me, and I just made sure I was going to catch that ball and get a touchdown."
"I just tried to escape up and to the right and kept my eyes downfield and found Jamison Crowder all by himself and he was pretty wide open, made for an easy throw," Cousins said. "I think just the longer I play, I'll get a better feel for how to move and escape."
On the next drive, Crowder grabbed a 25-yard pass over the middle, pushing him over 100 receiving yards in a game for the second time this season. In the fourth quarter, as the Redskins aimed to grab the lead, Crowder exited with a knee injury. He returned a few plays later, with the Redskins facing a third down, and caught a pass over the middle again for 17 yards, highlighting his value in a time of need.
"Jamison [Crowder] and I have had a good rapport since he showed up as a rookie," Cousins said. "In 2015, he had a ton of production. Last year he had some incredible games. There were times when even with Pierre [Garçon] and DeSean [Jackson] we would walk away from a game saying, 'Crowder may have been our best receiver today.' He's very talented. We've just got to get him opportunities. There was a couple of routes where we gave him the freedom to choose how he wanted to run it and we just got to make sure he's running it the best he can every time because when he does, great things happen."
The Redskins are still missing necessary pieces of the offense – particularly along the line – that will make the end of the season challenging to endure. Having Crowder operating as the player the Redskins expect will be critical as they head down the stretch in search of a playoff spot.
"It hasn't really been the year that I expected to have, but you know, it's a long season," Crowder said. "Week in and week out, I told myself to just keep playing. I had a good day today, but you've got to move on. Whether we have good days or bad days, we've got to move on. We've got Dallas next week, so it's another tough opponent, so you've got to keep going."