Deactivated for the previous five contests, Richard Crawford picked an opportune time to make a lasting impression for the Washington Redskins.
The rookie cornerback's 64-yard punt return set up rookie kicker Kai Forbath's 34-yard field goal that propelled Washington to a 31-28 win over the Ravens at FedEx Field Sunday. The outcome was significant as it kept the Redskins one game behind the New York Giants in the NFC East and one game behind the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears for the last wildcard berth.
Crawford, who was activated after nickel back Cedric Griffin was suspended four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, didn't dwell on why he was inactive. Instead, he focused on the importance of the win in terms of keeping the Redskins in the playoff hunt.
"I'm just happy that we won and [are] just [trying] to make the playoffs," Crawford said. "So I don't really take it for myself. I'm just happy the team won and that we're happy as a team."
On the punt return, Crawford caught the ball at Washington's 12-yard line and ran down the left side of the field between the numbers and the sideline. Then he found a lane cutting across the field and sped that way before getting hauled down by punter Sam Koch and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw at the Ravens' 24.
Crawford – who returned three punts for 100 yards, the most by a Redskins player since Antwaan Randle El amassed 111 yards on Oct. 22, 2006 – admitted that he took some ribbing from his teammates for allowing a punter to prevent him from reaching the end zone. Crawford said another factor came into play.
"I ran out of gas," he said. "When I hit midfield, I was dead tired. I don't know what happened. I never get tired. They used to call me 'Energizer Bunny' at practice because I'm always running around. I don't know what happened. I just got tired."
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said the coaching staff recognized Crawford's ability in the preseason.
"We gave him an opportunity," Shanahan said. "We thought he did a great job in the preseason by catching the ball and getting the ball upfield. We saw that in the Buffalo game [in the preseason], and we thought it was in the best interest of our team to give him an opportunity as well as [kick returner] Niles Paul. Obviously, Richard really took advantage of the opportunity."