Before every one of Washington's matchups for the 2021 season, Pete Hailey will present one number to know for that particular battle.
Here's what's on his mind, and what should be on your mind, for when the squad hits the road to face off with the Bills.
In games such as Week 3's Washington-Buffalo matchup that feature such a heavy underdog — NBC partner PointsBet has Ron Rivera's club catching 7.5 points — that underdog often needs some sort of major momentum-swinging play as it tries to score the upset.
And what is more impactful than an unexpected special teams touchdown?
In fact, when the Steelers (who were 6.5-point underdogs) took out the Bills, 23-16, in Week 1 at Highmark Stadium, they did so largely because of a blocked punt that they scooped up and brought into the end zone.
So, clearly, the Burgundy and Gold could use a similar spark in their tilt this Sunday, which is where this post's number comes from.
Washington's last punt return touchdown came in Week 5 of the 2016 campaign — otherwise known as 77 games ago. Jamison Crowder was the one who produced the six-pointer in a win over Baltimore.
Therefore, asking for the visitors to all of the sudden come up with one against Buffalo is obviously a huge request (77 freakin' games!). That said, Rivera and coordinator Nate Kaczor might've finally found a player who can pull it off and end the streak.
Though DeAndre Carter has just two punt returns on the season, his decisiveness with the ball in his hands after both kicks and punts has stood out (for those wondering, the franchise's last kickoff return for six — courtesy of Steven Sims — came in November of 2019).
Carter's definitely got the speed that's required of the position, but he also has shown an early habit of attacking opposing coverage groups instead of waiting for the foes to come to him. He makes up his mind back there and goes.
Overall, Carter has averaged almost 10 yards per return on 65 chances in his career. That's a very quality mark to own in the NFL.
Now, is forming a story around an act that hasn't occurred in nearly five years a pretty absurd idea? Of course it is! However, the Bills' punting operation has already had one blunder in 2021, and Carter has the skills to make it two, so it's not totally out of left field.
Should he somehow do it, he'd also turn the counter on Washington's return-for-a-touchdown side from 77 back to zero.