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Dustin Hopkins Kept Things Simple When Kicking Under Pressure


For most of the game, the Redskins' 19-16 win over the Lions on Sunday afternoon was a defensive affair. Detroit, which scored the game's only offensive touchdown early in the third quarter, accumulated 364 yards to Washington's 230.

The low total was largely a result of the teams' struggles to capitalize with scores in the red zone, with the two combining to go 1-for-5 overall in that area (the Redskins themselves were 0-for-2).

As a result, both sides turned to their kickers more often than not to provide points.

To that end, Detroit's Matt Prater and Washington's Dustin Hopkins each had their fair share of opportunities on the afternoon, having taken four attempts to go along with one converted extra point try throughout the course of the game.

For Hopkins' part, he made them all count.

"I'm just thankful for this moment," he said to the media after the game, reflecting on his role in the win. "It sure feels great for us in this room, for the guys. ...For us to rally around each other and stick together and pull that win out was big."

From a statistical standpoint, Hopkins went on to edge Prater, who missed a 39-yarder that spoiled the Lions' first drive of the game, by going a perfect 4-for-4 -- a season best for the Redskins veteran.

Of course, none of those four kicks were bigger than his last, which offered a chance to break the 16-16 tie and provide the eventual first win at home for the burgundy and gold. First, though, Hopkins had to even the score, facing a 42-yard try with 1:49 left in regulation.

On that specific kick, the fifth-year Redskins player admitted he didn't hit it his best.

"It's a lot more often that you hit a good ball and it happens to not go through, and very rarely do you not hit the ball you want and it goes through for you. And I can definitely say that about that second-to-last kick," Hopkins noted. "It's a good thing when your mishits go through, [but] that's part of working on your craft: to make sure when you don't hit your A-ball, that it goes for you."

Mishit or not, Hopkins' make gave Washington life in the waning moments of Sunday's contest. That would lead to Quinton Dunbar's interception just five plays later and, eventually, his game-winner.

"It's not stomach nerves that I get anymore. It's more [that] you feel a little shot of adrenaline," Hopkins said when asked about his state of mind moments before taking the field that last time. "Just tell myself mentally that my body's preparing to do something really special. I can do something that I wouldn't otherwise be able to do without that little extra juice. [I] turn it into a positive for sure."

Above all, the Redskins starting kicker focused on keeping things simple in order to help maintain that positivity.

"I transition back to just my keys ... lean out and contact," he said. "When I'm filling my head with those simple cues, I'm not thinking about anything else."

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