One week after expressing frustration about his team’s struggles in the passing game, Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon had a career day in a victory over the San Diego Chargers.
Garcon didn’t catch a touchdown pass. But he had a hand in all five Washington scoring drives in its 30-24 overtime victory at FedEx Field with one key reception after another.
“Never have doubt in yourself,” Garcon said. “You just have to believe in yourself, believe in the system and believe the guys around you are going to do everything they possibly can.”
That wasn’t as evident last week in the locker room after a crushing 45-21 loss at Denver. Garcon was too blunt for the tastes of some teammates when he openly admitted the passing game had stunk for much of the season. It was seen as an open shot at quarterback Robert Griffin III and his fellow receivers – even if Garcon’s opinion had more than a little truth sprinkled in.
“That was just more out of frustration, you know,” fellow wide receiver Leonard Hankerson said. “But Pierre, he had a great day today. Us as a team had a great day. We came and had a great day, put up some points and came out on top.”
Garcon finished with a career-high 172 receiving yards and for the second consecutive week made a spectacular one-handed catch. He caught seven passes from Griffin, including a 38-yarder. He also had another reception at 30 yards.
The big play in overtime was a 17-yard reception over the middle, a perfect throw into a tight window by Griffin. All too often this season that play hasn’t been made by the Redskins.
This time Griffin and Garcon were on the same page. It helped that San Diego was hit with a 15-yard personal foul on the play for a helmet-to-helmet hit. That pushed the ball from the San Diego 26 to the 13. And that put Washington in position to win. Three runs later it did exactly that.
“[Garcon] made some great catches – made the catches that were there and made some catches that not many people can make,” Griffin said. “So he stepped up and the rest of the receivers followed his lead.”
But for coach Mike Shanahan, Garcon played just as big a role in the run game, which produced 209 yards from six different players. The Redskins averaged 5.2 yards per carry. That lies in Garcon’s blocking ability to help spring Washington’s running backs. It’s a subtle part of the game and one not many receivers are good at or work at. Garcon, Shanahan believes, is the best blocking receiver in the NFL.
“The thing that people don’t see is how [Garcon] competes when he doesn’t get the ball,” Shanahan said. “A lot of people go out there and catch balls and everybody can see. But when you get the yards we get in the running game, a lot of people don’t see how he is blocking these defensive backs and safeties and how he competes physically with these guys.”
Those 40 carries were in good harmony with 32 pass attempts from Griffin, who targeted eight different receivers. But by far the most went to Garcon, who had 11 balls thrown his way, but still wasn’t all that impressed with himself. He believes there are more plays available for his offense to make.
That starts in just a few days when the Redskins travel to Minnesota for a crucial Thursday night game against the struggling Vikings. Soon after, the schedule again turns difficult and Washington’s offense needs to find a consistency in the passing game missing too often this season. For one day, at least, it was there again.
“It felt good, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Garcon said. “We still need to convert on third downs, especially in crucial moments on the last drives that we’re out there. Day’s going to come where we have to do better all around.”