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The Plays That Lifted Chase Young To The Defensive Rookie Of The Year Award

Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (99) is shown during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. The last time Baker Mayfield faced a talented, quarterback-seeking defensive line anchored by the No. 2 overall draft pick, things didn't go well. The San Francisco 49ers menaced and mauled Mayfield last season. On Sunday the Browns' QB faces Washington's ferocious front.(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Chase Young sprinted down the sideline, ball palmed in his left hand, end zone within his sights.

In a season full of standout plays, Young's scoop-and-score against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14 could be the most memorable, the most did-he-really-just-do-that moment of his rookie season with the Washington Football Team.

Quarterback Nick Mullens coughed the ball up, and Young had eyes for nothing else except the ball resting on the turf. He took it 47 yards the other way, flipping the ball into the air once he crossed the goal line.

Young earned the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year award on Saturday for plays like that one. He finished his first season with 44 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries -- none bigger than that touchdown scamper against the 49ers.

While the former No. 2 pick's contributions go beyond those numbers, attracting considerable attention from offensive lines, Young made several game-changing plays throughout the season that helped propel Washington to an NFC East title.

There were rookie moments, of course. Young's roughing the passer penalty late in the Week 10 matchup with Detroit pushed the Lions closer to their game-winning field goal. But the bulk of Young's displays separated himself from a strong rookie class of defenders that included the Buccaneers' Antoine Winfield Jr. and Ravens' Patrick Queen.

It all started Week 1, when Young's relentlessness rushing the quarterback first showed itself at the NFL level. He finished that outing with 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

Initially, quarterback Carson Wentz seemed to slip away from Young's bear hug. The defensive end held onto Wentz's cleat, though, then scrambled his way forward to knock the ball from Wentz's grasp -- his first sack and forced fumble on the same play.

"As advertised," Ryan Kerrigan said of Young after that Week 1 win.

Young seemed to hit another level after his costly penalty against Detroit. He showed it the next week against the Cincinnati Bengals, a matchup that began a four-game winning streak. In a meeting against the No. 1 pick in the draft, Young won the goal line battle.

Quarterback Joe Burrow scrambled, and Young chased him down, applying a pounding hit to prevent a touchdown while also dislodging the ball for a fumble.

Two weeks later, when Washington upset previously undefeated Pittsburgh, Young made another game-altering play.

Facing fourth-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line, Young exploded past tight end Eric Ebron on the line, leaped out and snared running back Benny Snell with one arm, holding him short of the end zone.

Then there were the final two weeks of the regular season, when Washington needed big plays if a playoff berth would happen.

Young delivered, first with a strip-sack on Teddy Bridgewater in an eventual loss before his final regular-season contribution against the Eagles: one sack, two tackles, three quarterback hits and a fumble recovery that helped seal the victory and secure a meeting with Tampa Bay in the wild card round.

All those plays added up to make Young the Defensive Rookie of the Year, with his scoop-and-score against the 49ers standing just apart, more memorable than the rest. And those performances in his debut season suggest there's plenty more to come for Young in Washington.

Read more Washington Football Team coverage in The Washington Times, HERE.

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