With just 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Kendal Thompson made an impressive one-handed grab in the end zone to give the Redskins the go-ahead score in their 22-18 victory over the Jets on Friday.
Time was running out for wide receiver Kendal Thompson to leave an impression. Targeted just once in the second half, he couldn't haul in a high pass from quarterback Nate Sudfeld, the ball brushing off his hands as a Jets defender came charging towards him.
But with 36 seconds left, and the Redskins putting together their first sustainable offensive drive in two quarters, Thompson not only left an impression, he helped the Redskins win, 22-18 over New York, in highlight-reel form on Friday night.
Flanked out to Sudfeld's right, Thompson took advantage of man coverage and bolted down the sideline on first down. Sudfeld made a quick drop and lofted a beautiful ball, just out of the reach of Jets cornerback Juston Burris and into Thompson's outstretched right hand before the Utah product collected it into his body while keeping his feet in bounds for the go-ahead score.
"Obviously we needed a touchdown, you know, we got the play call, it was all go's," Thompson said. "I had a feeling it was man-to-man coverage, that's the majority of what they were playing all night, I just won my matchup and just tried to go make a play."
The score put the Redskins ahead by two points, and with just under 30 seconds remaining, head coach Jay Gruden opted to go for a 2-point conversion to erase the possibility of a tie.
Using the momentum from their last connection, it was only natural Sudfeld returned to Thompson to convert. This time, Thompson lined up to his quarterback's left and showed off his jump ball skills, finding the pass at its highest point over a Jets defender to give the Redskins a 4-point cushion.
"I had a feeling Nate [Sudfeld] was going to come back after that touchdown," Thompson said, "so I tried to make sure I won the matchup and make a play on it."
Considering Thompson was a former quarterback at Oklahoma and Utah, Friday night signified that since starting his transition to a new position in the winter, he's made major strides.
"I'm probably more comfortable now then coming into camp," Thompson said. "Obviously, you are going against professional players every day and I feel like I fit in. Guys like Jordan Reed, he made the conversion from quarterback as well, so he's been helping me a lot and having Ike Hilliard as our receivers coach has been very beneficial for me. Going out there and repping every day I feel like I will be able to continue to grow. Hopefully make the team, or do whatever they want me to do at the wide receiver position."
As the final two preseason games remain, Thompson will take his exclamatory ending into the practice week, hoping to build on his final two catches. He, at least for the time being, can be satisfied in confirming what his head coach already believed to be true about him, and Washington's crop of young receivers.
"It was excited to see the catch. I heard it was quite an amazing catch, and the two-point play was a good catch also," Gruden said. 'So that was a great throw by Nate, let him have an opportunity to make a play and I always say, give these wide-outs a chance to make plays and they will, and they proved me right again."