- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 21, 2016

LANDOVER | Nate Sudfeld did not need to see the game film to know there were plays he wanted back in the Washington Redskins’ 22-18 victory against the New York Jets on Friday. There was the pass in the third quarter, the rookie quarterback’s first of the game, that was nearly intercepted by Jets cornerback Darryl Morris after Sudfeld tried jamming it to wide receiver Valdez Showers.

“I really should’ve checked it down,” Sudfeld said, shaking his head as he replayed the transgression. “We had run like four plays in a row and I was kind of just itching to throw a ball and I didn’t want to check it down, which is just so juvenile.”

Then came the attempt in the fourth quarter, with the Redskins facing third-and-20, when Sudfeld forced a downfield throw to wide receiver Dez Stewart.

“I was like ‘Let’s get the first down,’ but I should’ve just checked it down and made it an easier punt,” Sudfeld said.

Through six series, Sudfeld looked little like the quarterback who completed 10 of 15 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown the week earlier against the Atlanta Falcons. Yet when it mattered most on Friday, Sudfeld regrouped and led the Redskins on an 11-play, 84-yard scoring drive.

He completed 6 of 10 passes for 69 yards on that drive. The last one was beautifully delivered to rookie Kendal Thompson, who made a great one-handed catch to boost the Redskins to a win with 29 seconds remaining. Sudfeld then connected with Thompson for a two-point conversion to finish the rally.

The inconsistencies that Sudfeld weathered on Friday night illustrated the challenge a rookie faces as he balances the desire to be perfect and learn at the same time.

“I want to throw every perfect pass,” Sudfeld said. “I want every ball to be the right read, the right decision. But what is cool is it’s preseason and I’m still young, still learning, so I’m making mistakes. The big problem is if I repeat mistakes. I made a few mistakes, I was like, ‘Man I shouldn’t have done that,’ but now I kind of know how it feels. ‘OK, I can’t do that anymore, these guys are too fast’ or ‘that throw won’t work.’

“I got in a rhythm and once I got a few completions going, we were able to get some swagger on offense and go down and score. Frustrated with the slow start, but it’s just part of the process. You’ve got to get better each play, look to the next play, not dwell on it. Glad we could finish it out with the win.”

Since Sudfeld was drafted by the Redskins in the sixth round, he’s tried to absorb all he can from starter Kirk Cousins and veteran backup Colt McCoy. He often picks their brains and stays late after practice, working closely with quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh.

Sudfeld wants to emulate the two quarterbacks in front of him on the depth chart and feel the confidence the coaching staff has in Cousins and McCoy. On Friday he got the slightest taste of it, which was welcoming in itself.

“They never got on me too bad,” Sudfeld said. “They just say, ‘Hey, next play, next play,’ and they were giving me a lot of confidence, so I really felt good. And then the final drive once I started getting rolling I was like, ‘There’s no way we’re not scoring.’ The guys around me did a great job.”

The game was special for Sudfeld not only because he responded well to the challenge, but because it was first against his brother, Zach, a tight end with Jets. It was the first time Sudfeld’s parents, Ralph and Michelle, didn’t have to decide which game they wanted to attend.

When Zach caught a 19-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, even Nate had a hard time containing his excitement.

“I was standing there waiting and then they were like, ‘Touchdown, 44 Sudfeld,’ and guys around me are like, ‘It’s all right, you can be happy,’” Nate said.

The only better feeling for Sudfeld was delivering the game-winning pass himself.

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