KANSAS CITY — Josh Doctson nearly made the biggest play of the Redskins young 2017 season on Monday night.
Late in the fourth quarter of a tie game, Doctson leaped into the air, clearing at least two feet, located a well-thrown pass from Kirk Cousins and got two hands on the ball.
As his body fell mercilessly to the ground, gravity yanking down the 6-foot-4 receiver just like it does much less animated objects, Doctson lost the ball when he hit the ground.
He hit hard, and as the ball rolled out of the back of the end zone, so too did the Redskins game-winning touchdown.
In turn, Washington kicked a field goal, which briefly tied the game in Arrowhead Stadium with less than a minute to play.
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Once the Chiefs got the ball, they drove down the field and kicked their own field goal to win, before a garbage time defensive TD made the score look far less close than the actual game.
For the Redskins, a number of plays could have swung the outcome.
There were far too many penalties, especially from the defense on third downs. Samaje Perine could not handle a simple pitch out of the backfield, and while the crisis was averted when the ball bounced clumsily out of bounds, it cost the Burgundy and Gold momentum. Early in the game, Terrelle Pryor dropped a key pass on a third down that would have extended a drive.
The play that will be most remembered, however, is the near TD from Cousins to Doctson. And how it will be remembered matters.
Doctson's had a tough start to his Washington career. He missed nearly his entire rookie year after being a 2016 first-round draft pick. This season, a nagging hamstring injury limited his snaps through the first four games of the year.
He's also started to show that he can be a special player, fans are realizing the potential Doctson has and why Washington drafted him in the first round. It showed up against Oakland on a deep TD catch from Cousins, and it showed up against Kansas City, even if he couldn't hang onto the ball as he hit the turf.
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Doctson didn't make the catch, but he didn't drop the ball either.
To call that play a drop is unfair to the effort put forth by the wideout, and the incredible degreee of difficulty that play required. Be clear though, it was a catchable ball, and a good throw from Cousins.
Not all things are binary. Could Doctson have made the play? Absolutely. He nearly did. Should he have made that play? Few players can, or do. In only his sixth NFL game, Doctson almost did.
The second-year wideout from TCU needs to be on the field more for the Redskins. He's proven that. After the first quarter of the season, Doctson has logged less snaps than Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder and Ryan Grant. Against the Chiefs, Doctson was out there for just 17 snaps. Pryor, who caught his first TD with the Redskins in the first half, logged 43 snaps.
Doctson has gifts. The Redskins need to use them.
With more opportunities, perhaps the debate won't center on drops, but catches.
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