Redskins receiver Pierre Garçon had an excellent game on Sunday, catching a touchdown as well as a clutch fourth down reception on the game-winning drive.*
Down one to the divisional rival Philadelphia Eagles with just under three minutes left in the game, the Washington Redskins faced a fourth down with potentially their season on the line.
Convert, and the drive continues. Don't, and playoff hopes become slim.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins had several weapons he could throw to. Speedy receiver DeSean Jackson already had more than 100 yards on the day. Jamison Crowder had a big catch earlier on the drive. Tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis have made big plays all year.
But perhaps no Redskins receiver has been better in clutch moments than Pierre Garçon. So on fourth and one with the game in the balance, Cousins threw a dart to Garçon on a curl route, picking up six yards and giving the Redskins a new set of downs as the two minute warning approached.
"That was the game," head coach Jay Gruden said. "You know, if we don't get that, we have trouble stopping the clock and he gave an opportunity to win it. It was a big-time play, big-time catch. Great throw."
Garçon has made a career off of making tough catches. This one was no different.
"Pierre does a great job winning versus man coverage," Cousins said. "It's a tough thing to do because as I said, they were doing a good job of squatting on some intermediate routes. He had a tough job there, but he did it and made a great catch and we were able to move the chains."
Two plays later, running back Chris Thompson took an outside pitch 25 yards to the end zone, with left tackle Trent Williams paving the way. The Redskins would take a 27-22 lead with a 1:53 left to play.
With the Eagles driving inside the Redskins' 20-yard line, outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan would strip Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz with 21 seconds remaining, and fellow linebacker Trent Murphy would recover.
The Redskins would win their fifth straight game over Philadelphia.
Thompson's touchdown and Kerrigan's strip-sack will be what many remember most from the game. But without Cousins' conversion to Garçon on fourth down, the game is already over.
"He's so strong," Gruden said on Garçon. "Even if the cornerback is on him, he has a great ability to come back to the quarterback and use his body and his strong hands to make those tough catches."
The Mount Union product had an excellent game in addition to his clutch catch. The ninth-year vet finished with five catches for 59 yards, including a touchdown that put the Redskins up 21-13 late in the third quarter.
The touchdown came on a fade route, something the Redskins have struggled with this year. Perhaps nobody was happier than Gruden to see a successful fade route.
"He had four or five great catches. The touchdown on the fade, how about that? You guys like the fade?" Gruden said with a smile.