The Redskins were on the Miami Dolphins’ 25-yard line and yearning to put an exclamation point on their first positive drive of Sunday's game. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin was about to give it to them.
McLaurin knew his route was going to work. He had seen Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper have success running something similar, and the Dolphins’ secondary liked to undercut crossing routes. All he needed to do was sell it, and he would have his man beat.
Quarterback Case Keenum took the snap, and McLaurin took off. He first broke inside and then quickly turned his head back towards Keenum -- just enough to make cornerback Ken Webster do exactly as he predicted -- before cutting back out to the left and leaving Webster to play catch up.
The ball was in the air, and as Webster began to fall to the ground, McLaurin got under the pass and made the catch in the endzone.
It was that kind of performance that helped McLaurin fuel the Redskins’ offense in a 17-16 win; it’s also one of the reasons the rookie from Ohio State has been so spectacular this year.
“Terry’s special,” said Keenum, who finished 13 of 25 for 166 yards – 100 of which went to McLaurin on four receptions. “He’s a very friendly target. He’s fun to throw to. … He’s friendly on the eyes, as a quarterback. Just the body language he gives in and out of breaks. I know where he’s going to be at all times.”
McLaurin has become the star of the Redskins’ offense, and it’s obvious why he fits nicely into that role. Aside from an injury that kept him out against the New York Giants, he has at least 50 receiving yards in every game. He has at least one touchdown in four of five games, and he leads the team in yards (408), targets (38) and yards per catch (17.7).
Are those numbers surprising to McLaurin? Not really. He’s just happy he’s able to help his team.
“I’m just blessed by God to have this ability,” McLaurin said. “I didn’t do anything for this ability. I’m just trying to do the best I can as a rookie to play my role and make plays when they come to me.”
Ask his teammates what makes McLaurin so special, and they’ll all list off the same things. They’ll say he’s a hard worker – he is – and that he has a lot of talent – he does.
But it’s his ability to run such crisp routes that has helped him emerge as one of this year’s top rookies.
“Man, it’s impressive the type of poise that he has,” Callahan said. “What really impressed me was…the high seven-cut corner route that he ran. It was an art-form piece of work in terms of his route running, the way he snatched it, came down with a huge play to get us out of the hole. That made a big difference.”
The play Callahan was talking about came in the fourth quarter with the offense pinned at its own 1-yard line and fewer than four minutes left in regulation. With Keenum deep in his own end zone, he threw the ball to the right side of the field where McLaurin had just shaken off a defender and was racing for the sideline.
McLaurin dropped a similar pass earlier in the second half, but this time he caught it for a 31-yard gain.
“The one that is stuck in my head is the one that I dropped, and I told the guys that I was going to make up for it,” McLaurin said. “I feel like that was a big play in the game, and I just wanted to make up for the previous mishap.”
As for Callahan calling McLaurin’s route running a form of art, McLaurin said, “That’s why I work so hard.”
“That’s why you want to be one of the great receivers in the league,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to beat press-man when the game is on the line. I knew that I was going to get pressed. I felt like that was great execution, and I feel like it helped the team.”
No one really knows who came up with the nickname “Scary Terry,” although Keenum said with a laugh that he would like to “throw his hat in the ring” and take credit for it.
No matter who coined the name first, there is one undisputed fact: McLaurin has become a nightmare for defenses that isn’t ending anytime soon.
Check out photos of the Washington Redskins during their regular season Week 6 game against the Miami Dolphins.