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Reward Outweighed Risk On Successful Fake Punt


With the Redskins trailing by one and at their own 48-yard line, Washington decided to test Tress Way's arm. The result was a beautiful fake punt conversion and eventually another Dustin Hopkins field goal.

Tress Way along with the special teams coaching staff noticed a trend in New York Giants defensive back Trevin Wade every time he was in on punt coverage: he'd let go out of the opposing team's gunner.

So with a little more than three minutes left in the third quarter of Sunday's Week 3 matchup and the Redskins trailing by one point, Washington decided to go into its bag of tricks and have Way try and launch a ball to cornerback Quinton Dunbar.

"[Special teams] coach Ben [Kotwica] said that either two things are going to happen: 'You're either going to get an incomplete pass and he's holding Dunbar, or he's going to be open and you stick it on him," Way told CSN Mid-Atlantic after the game. "The coolest part about it was they come up to me, they go 'Hey, you're going to have to put a little zip on it. You're going to have to throw that thing over there, otherwise the returner is going to come pick it off.'"

The returner didn't pick it off, as Way would locate Dunbar more than 30 yards down field even with Wade called for defensive holding.  Punt returner Dwayne Harris was nowhere near the play.

"Man, I've got a whole new respect for quarterbacks," Way said. "You have any idea how nerve-racking that is, standing in there; people are running at you, I tried to play it as cool as I could. I'm waiting, I felt like I was waiting forever. Waiting, waiting, and then boom,' just put it on them. Best case scenario, it worked out awesome. I was freaking out."

Seven plays after Way's successful pass gave the Redskins a new set of downs, kicker Dustin Hopkins drilled his fifth field goal of the day on the first play of the fourth quarter. It would ultimately be another go-ahead field goal conversion.

It was also a redemption play for Dunbar. After the defense forced a three-and-out on New York's first offensive drive of the game, a short punt would hit Dunbar's leg and be recovered by the Giants. Shortly after, New York would get their first touchdown of the day to quickly go up 7-0.

"I was blocking my man, so I felt the ball hit my foot," Dunbar said. "So I tried to go and get it. I don't have eyes in the back of my head. I guess the punt went short and [Jamison] Crowder couldn't get it so, I felt it hit my foot so I had to go get the ball. The coaches told me not to worry about it. I mean, its football. It's a mistake I couldn't control."

Before his acrobatic catch on the fake punt, special teams ace Houston Bates told Dunbar he was confident that the second-year Florida product would make the catch and turn around his day.

"I told Dunny before the snap, I knew we were running it, I said, 'Look, your number is called you've [got to] make a play,' and he did," Bates said. "He came up big."

It was the Redskins' first successful fake kick of any kind since the 2009 season when punter Hunter Smith dropped back to find fullback Mike Sellers for a 35-yard touchdown.

For Dunbar – who started his NFL career at wide receiver – and Way, it was also the first career reception and completion for both respectively.

"The reward I thought outweighed the risk in that position," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "I thought with Dunbar running it, he's got good hands. Although, we moved him to corner for a reason because he didn't have great hands [laughter]. But we did it in practice and Tress Way has a great arm – very accurate. Coaching staff on the special teams side of it saw that it was a possibility. We practiced it. He caught it every time but the first day in the walkthrough. So, I was excited actually to get in that position where it was a pooch area where we could throw it and Tress made a great throw. We knew he wouldn't get doubled out there so we called it. I was ready for it, they executed it. It's a good thing."

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