- The Washington Times - Monday, October 10, 2016

Jamison Crowder’s breakneck speed was not the only memorable element of the electric 85-yard punt return touchdown he scored in the Washington Redskins‘ 16-10 victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

There was the extra effort from Will Blackmon, who delivered a block after he whiffed on his first opportunity to clear the initial lane for Crowder to burst through. Tight end Niles Paul hustled to trace Crowder’s path and launched himself at another defender near midfield, which sealed the final lane for the shifty returner to dash past punter Sam Koch.

The complete effort exhibited on the return highlighted a strong special teams performance that helped boost the Redskins in their third consecutive victory.

Later in the second quarter, Washington foiled the Ravens’ fake field-goal attempt thanks to high-alert play from cornerback Josh Norman and safety Duke Ihenacho.

It was the second time in three weeks Crowder and the Redskins special teams unit delivered a big punt return. In Washington’s 29-27 win against the New York Giants in Week 3, Crowder broke free for a 50-yarder. His success on the punt return has been a welcome sight this season after he struggled in his rookie year. Drafted in the fourth round, Crowder was slotted as the Redskins punt returner after returning a school-record four touchdowns at Duke.

His success did not immediately translate, though, and he averaged just 5.3 yards per return — the worst among qualified NFL returners last season. Crowder did find success as a slot receiver when he supplanted former Redskins wide receiver Andre Roberts for the starting job and caught 59 passes — the Redskins‘ single-season record for a rookie.

Crowder has continued to be a top target for quarterback Kirk Cousins this season, with 21 catches for 231 yards. His two touchdowns are tied for most on the team with tight end Jordan Reed.

Perhaps in recent years, when special teams play has been such a woeful department for the Redskins, the running lanes would have closed on Crowder or the opposing team would’ve converted the fake field-goal attempt.

Until Crowder’s return on Sunday, it had been 124 regular-season games since the Redskins scored a touchdown on a punt return — the longest active streak in the NFL. Crowder is averaging a league best 27.1 yards per return this season, which has given the special teams an added spark.

“I think it’s players, No. 1. Players are making plays,” coach Jay Gruden said on Monday. “They’re buying into what they’re supposed to do. The leader of that room, Niles Paul, is doing a good job of holding everybody accountable. Jamison Crowder obviously has been a dynamic guy back there as a punt returner and he has confidence that guys are going to get blocks for him. They’re not going to block everybody, but he can make a couple people miss and he feels good about catching the ball and having room to work. Obviously the coaching staff has done an excellent job with Coach [Ben] Kotwica, [Bradford] Banta and [Bret] Munsey giving good looks and being sound in what we do. Guys are making plays.”

Garcon, Jean Francois deliver supplies to Haiti

As relief efforts continue in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew, the Washington Redskins sent a planeload of medical supplies to the island on Monday.

Wide receiver Pierre Garcon and defensive end Ricky Jean Francois, both of Haitian descent, made the trip to personally deliver the supplies. The relief effort comes two days after owner Daniel Snyder used his jet to ship supplies to Bermuda.

Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti last week and more than 1,000 people have died in the aftermath, according to multiple reports on Monday morning. Both Garcon and Jean Francois have been active in charitable efforts in the past. Garcon, who still has family in Haiti, visited the country shortly after an earthquake caused significant damage in 2010.

“First class,” Gruden said on Monday. “A lot of guys want to stay home, play video games, spend time with their families, but to go over there and help others in need is big time, talks about their character. I’m proud to be their coach when you see things like that. We’re very happy for those guys.”


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