LANDOVER — Dwayne Haskins was so excited that he wrapped his arms around offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell and held on tight for the next few seconds. After letting go, the Redskins quarterback made his way over to tackle Morgan Moses, who threw his helmet on the bench as the two bumped chests in celebration.
Then, Haskins turned to the stands — waving his arms to pump up the crowd directly behind the Redskins’ bench.
After all, the 22-year-old had done his job: He helped lead the Redskins to a 19-16 win over the Detroit Lions, engineering a game-winning drive that ended with a 39-yard field goal from Dustin Hopkins.
Tied at 16 with 48 seconds left, Haskins converted multiple first downs — including a 17-yard strike to Terry McLaurin — that put Hopkins in range to nail the kick with 20 seconds left.
The victory gave Washington (2-9) its first home win since Oct. 21, 2018.
“Closing is what I do,” Haskins said. “And every opportunity I get to have the ball in my hand, (I) try to help the team win.”
Haskins was by no means perfect against the Lions. There were flaws that led to an ugly stat line — Haskins completed just 44.8% of his throws for 156 yards and an interception. He sailed throws over receivers and again was sacked three times. He even missed the final kneel down of the game because he took a selfie with fans on the sideline — something interim coach Bill Callahan said the team will address.
“We were looking for him,” Callahan said. “I think he thought the game was over, so we’ll have to find out.”
But Haskins overcame his mistakes when it mattered. To the Redskins, they saw a quarterback who kept his composure the entire game, staying steady when Detroit took a 16-13 lead in the fourth. Teammates praised the way the Ohio State product didn’t let the outcome of one bad play affect his confidence.
They also liked how Haskins responded from a tough performance against the New York Jets. Last week, the 22-year-old was under pressure all afternoon. He was sacked six times and a sideline confrontation between him and the offensive line went viral. That week, Haskins threw for 214 yards, but didn’t’ find his rhythm until late.
Against Detroit, Haskins again shined in the fourth, but this time, the game was closely contested. He led two late series — a nine-play, 54-yard drive and a six-play, 33-yard drive — that resulted in field goals. On each series, the quarterback demonstrated his arm talent and stood in the pocket to deliver throws.
After tying the game at 16, the Redskins got the ball back quickly as cornerback Quinton Dunbar picked off Lions quarterback Jeff Driskel with 48 seconds left. Besides his throw to McLaurin, Haskins also picked up a valuable 11 yards on the ground when he scrambled to pick up the first down.
“It’s the clutch factor,” wide receiver Kelvin Harmon said. “Some players have it, some players don’t, he obviously has it.”
So much of this Redskins’ season had been defined by the team’s inability to execute. The front office blamed former coach Jay Gruden, firing him last month after an 0-5 start. But the team continued to lose, dropping four of its next five.
It frustrated Callahan, who spent Saturday night tearing into his team at a 20-minute meeting. He pointed out mistakes from the loss to the Jets, lashing out. Rookie linebacker Cole Holcomb said he saw a different side of his coach, the “tough dude” he had heard about from the team’s offensive line. “I saw it last night,” he said.
The message, players said, was received. Throughout the afternoon, the Redskins harrassed Driskel, a backup filling in for the injured Matthew Stafford, and sacked him six times. They intercepted him three times. On Sunday, the Redskins even got out to a lead for the first time since Week 6.
Besides Haskins, a number of young players also stepped up — including Steven Sims, a previously undrafted free agent who overcame an initial bobble to zoom past the Lions for a 91-yard kick return in the second quarter. McLaurin finished with 72 yards, while Harmon had 43.
The Redskins have made an active attempt to evaluate some of their younger players down the stretch. Against Detroit, the Redskins benched cornerback Josh Norman for third-year man Fabian Moreau.
Overall, the Redskins saw progress. That’s what they’ll need as they try to recapture the attention of their fan base — there were again plenty of empty seats Sunday, with a reported paid attendance of 57,754 — and evaluate for the future.
For now, Moses said the Redskins needed to cherish their win.
“You look at (Haskins) he comes from a big program,” Moses said. “He’s not used to losing. It’s a sour taste in his mouth, but at the end of the day, it’s a long season. … He’s going to have to be a leader. I think today showed our trust in him, our trust in us.”