LANDOVER -- Standing in the end zone Thursday night, Dwayne Haskins violently flailed his arms four times to further ignite an already noisy FedExField crowd. He then clapped his hands in front of his helmet three times and used another hand gesture to exemplify his elation. Eventually he returned to the sideline to celebrate with his Redskins teammates.
Haskins had just capped the best drive of his young NFL career, leading his offense 75 yards on eight plays in a shade under four minutes.
The possession included a 14-yard hookup with Robert Davis and a well-placed ball to tight end Donald Parham down the seam for a 25-yard gain. Two plays later he connected with another tight end, J.P. Holtz, who rumbled 24 more yards down to the Baltimore Ravens' 7-yard line.
Facing 1st-and-goal in the waning seconds of the first quarter, Haskins stayed aggressive. He faked the hand-off, rolled out right and spotted Steven Sims running free in the back corner of the end zone. His throw was low but placed where only Sims could catch it, and the undrafted wide receiver rewarded his fellow rookie by scooping the ball into his arms just before it touched the grass. Haskins, making his first-career NFL start, reacted accordingly.
"I'm pretty level headed most of the time," Haskins told reporters afterwards, "but when I score a touchdown I just let it go."
"Calling the play, making sure the right play is called, getting the motion across, reading the defense, throwing the right pass, making a great play on the ball -- it's all the little things that go into making that, just a whole bunch of excitement because you worked on it like 10 times since Wednesday. It's just something that you work on. You just put a whole bunch of repetitions in it and you just want to see it happen in a game. That's something about scoring touchdowns that makes me happy."
Haskins' near immaculate drive headlined a strong outing for the first-round rookie, who completed 10 of his 17 passes for 104 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. Plus, his stat line should have looked even better. His wide receivers combined to drop three passes, and a penalty negated another impressive throw. On the latter play, Haskins recognized a collapsing pocket and somehow escaped. He then rolled out right, flipped his hips downfield and delivered an on-the-run completion to Darvin Kidsy along the sideline.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Haskins will not have the opportunity to build on this momentum when the Redskins open the regular season in Philadelphia next Sunday. Head coach Jay Gruden has already named veteran Case Keenum the starter for that game. Haskins will serve as the backup.
Still, Haskins' performance Thursday night was the latest step in his widely-followed development, and it gave Washington fans a glimpse what could be in store down the road.
"He was good," Gruden said of Haskins. "Had good energy, communicated the offense well to others, made some nice plays. He hurried a couple of them and had some pressure. Overall, I thought he moved the ball and had a nice touchdown drive. He made some nice plays. I have to check out the film, but I am happy for him for the way he played today."
Here are two other players who stood out during the Redskins' 20-7 loss to the Ravens on Thursday night:
Wide Receiver Steven Sims
After recording two receptions over the first three preseason games, Sims used Thursday's game to prove he’s deserving of a spot on the 53-man roster that will head to Philadelphia next Sunday.
Sims used his quick footwork and breakaway speed to create space that allowed Haskins to hit him on a touchdown pass late in the first quarter. As Haskins rolled to his right, Sims came free on a crossing route along the back of the end zone. Haskins then delivered a perfect ball that allowed Sims to dive and secure the football that capped an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
Sims also flashed his potential on special teams, returning two kickoffs for a combined 80 yards. He broke away down the right sideline on his first return and may have raced into the end zone if not for Ravens kicker Elliott Fry, who shoved him out of bounds around the Washington 40-yard line.
Head Coach Jay Gruden mentioned during the week that he's looking for his receivers to be able to contribute on special teams, and Sims accomplished just that and more Thursday.
“He's a little fireball," Gruden said. "He's got the speed and quickness to separate. Coming in here as a rookie free agent from Kansas and learning this offense, he's still got a ways to go as far as getting himself ready to play. But we love the prospect of him with the ball in his hands."
Defensive Lineman Ryan Bee
Within a crowded and talented position group, Bee used every rep from rookie minicamp to the final whistle of the preseason to his advantage. The undrafted free agent out of Marshall recorded a team-high 18 tackles over four preseason games while recording a sack against the Cleveland Browns on Aug. 8.
The 6-foot-7, 280-pound Bee has shown the ability to stuff running lanes, pursue ball carries sideline to sideline and effectively rush opposing quarterbacks. His speed would also make him a potential rotational piece should the Redskins keep him on the 53-man roster.