- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 5, 2017

SEATTLE | Seahawks coach Pete Carroll delivered that dreaded four-letter word in Washington: fade.

For Carroll, and for the opposition, for once, it was a word to lament. The biggest play of the day Sunday was a deep sideline fade to Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson, who, in just his second season, has become intertwined with the word. It usually does not have a good connotation.

But, it did Sunday in Seattle. Doctson’s 38-yard catch to bring the Redskins to the Seattle 1-yard line with 1:02 to play put Rob Kelley within two feet of the goal line for the go-ahead touchdown. He delivered it on the next play.

“They hit a fade route,” Carroll said. “They threw a great fade route and the guy made a great catch.”

That guy is a 2016 first-round pick who has been burdened by underperformance and injury early during his time in Washington. Doctson declined to speak with reporters after the game. Several teammates spoke on his behalf.

One was Josh Norman, who has a dual involvement with Doctson. First, he sees him in practice each day. Second, Norman recalled the catch Doctson almost made in the end zone Week 4 against Kansas City.

“That’s a first-round guy,” Redskins cornerback Josh Norman said. “That’s a first-round catch.”

He had more.

“He said that he was going to do that,” Norman said. “Low and behold, it seems like him and those deep balls, they’re like married couples. Seems he is always there for that. He’s done it in practice, so it’s not nothing surprising to me that he came back and the Lord granted him with a second chance, a second opportunity. He saw the thing in the air it looked like angels pushed him forward a little bit. That man speeded up! He’s got another gear to him.”

The play was a change at the line of scrimmage by Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins after he recalled what Gruden had told him. Gruden had said they wanted to give Doctson a chance deep if they saw press coverage at the line of scrimmage. Cousins saw Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin near the line of scrimmage, called an audible, and the result was one of the biggest plays of the season.

“I hope it’s a sign of things to come,” Cousins said. “Just the start of something, hopefully.”

For weeks, the Redskins had talked about driving the ball deep downfield. So much so that Gruden joked about it postgame — “I’m not going [to stand up] here and fight over who gets the deep balls,” Gruden said — knowing the conversation that was coming.

Doctson finished with just three catches for 59 yards. He was part of an ineffective Washington offense during the course of the day. The Redskins were trying to get by with four backup offensive linemen starting the game because of injuries. The result was Cousins being sacked six times, harassed even more often and a running game that gained just 51 yards.

That’s why Docton’s play was so significant. The catch was reviewed and stood. For a week, “fade” is not a bad word in Washington.

“That’s what they brought him here for,” Redskins tight end Vernon Davis said.

Extra points: Right guard Brandon Scherff was active, but did not start the game. That gave the Redskins a starting offensive line, from left to right, of T.J. Clemmings, Arie Kouandjio, Chase Roullier, Tyler Catalina and Morgan Moses. Tight end Vernon Davis left with a soft cast on his right hand. Gruden said Davis bruised it during the game, but should be all right.

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