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Onside Kick Swings Momentum Redskins' Way


The first successfully recovered onside kick in the NFL this season, the Redskins saw a hole in the Buccaneers' coverage and took advantage on a third quarter onside kick attempt.

The Redskins noticed during film study this week some holes in the Buccaneers' coverage, ones that  were noticeable enough that they wanted to pull the trigger on a potential onside kick.

Recover and all the momentum would be on their side. Allow the other team to secure the ball, and it would give them great field position after scoring a touchdown.

For the Redskins on Sunday in their 31-30 victory at FedExField, it was the former, as Dustin Hopkins' kick was recovered by Trenton Robinson one play after a Ryan Grant touchdown reception. It would also be the start of a second touchdown drive, one that would end in the first of two Jordan Reed scores.

"We saw some things on film this week in our preparation, so if we saw an opportunity to do something with it we're going to take advantage of that," fullback Darrel Young said.

Hopkins used a little bit of acting once the decision was made to try the onside kick, going through his usual pre-kick routine despite knowing full-well this wasn't a typical kickoff play.

"Well, we practiced it and it was going well, so I was not surprised the call was made; I was kind of anticipating it," Hopkins said after the game. "So when coach gave me the greenlight, I tried my best to act [to] not give away any cues to the other team. So I was trying to look deep and do stuff that didn't really matter, and I'm sure they probably didn't even notice, but I didn't want to give it away."

Another concern of his was putting a little too much power on the ball. Kick it too hard and it could either easily end up in the Buccaneers' hands or sail out of bounds, a penalty and Tampa Bay ball.

"I was also worried I didn't want to hit it too hard," Hopkins said. "Just being in the moment with a lot of energy in the stadium and stuff like that. Just try to tone it down a notch and hit just a good ball to the spot we marked out where they had a hole, kind of in the front line. It worked out. The guys did great recovering it [and] protecting who got on the ball. I think it was a huge turning point in the game."

Check out these top photos from the Washington Redskins 2015 Week 7 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Oct. 25, 2015, at FedExField.

The kick was part of a third quarter that was all Redskins, as they scored two touchdowns while the Buccaneers didn't come close to scoring a single point.

Late in the game, of course, quarterback Kirk Cousins would march the Redskins down the field for a game-tying touchdown.

All that was left was Hopkins to convert on his extra point attempt to secure a victory.

Just like he had on his previous 12 extra point attempts, Hopkins placed it perfectly down the middle.

"I was just trying to treat it like another extra point," Hopkins said. "I was going through my mental cues, just staying short, and contacting the ball. It's awesome to have another experience like that under my belt. I really want to give kudos to the front line because they put the game on the line. They know they're gonna get killed on that play, they're kind of exposed, so it's nice to have those guys hunt them down and sacrifice themselves for the point."

For a position that is sometimes forgotten, Hopkins is standing out both on and off the field.

"Every time we run down on kickoffs he's high fiving us," Hopkins said. "I'm not used to it, I like it, I love it a lot. I just wasn't used to it. That's when you talk about a culture change in the locker room, guys like that that are playing for each other."







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