Jamison Crowder recorded more than 12 yards per punt return in 2016, including an 85-yard score against the Ravens that was the Redskins first punt return touchdown since 2008.
Jamison Crowder's breakout season in 2016 wouldn't have been complete without his flair for the exceptional on special teams. On Wednesday, Crowder was named the Washington Redskins' 2016 Mark Moseley Special Teams Player of the Year.
After Crowder averaged just 5.3 yards per punt return during his rookie season in 2015, the Duke product was among the best returners in the NFL last year. He averaged 12.1 yards on his 27 punt returns, highlighted by an 85-yard score against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5.
It was Washington's first punt return for touchdown since the 2008 season, snapping the longest drought in that category in the NFL.
"When I caught it, I ran to the left and saw there was a crease," Crowder said. "It might have be Deshazor [Everett], a couple guys were on their blocks really well. I saw a crease, I was like, 'I'm going to hit it. I'm going to go with it.' I was able to break a tackle or two, run and score."
After a diving block by tight end Niles Paul helped get two Ravens off track, so much so that they would collide, Crowder juked Baltimore punter Sam Koch, the final roadblock before the end zone.
In the process, Crowder became the youngest player for the franchise to score a punt return touchdown since 1991.
"From my perspective, it's just the guys blocking a lot better," Crowder said last October. "Last year, we had a mixture of pains. Sometimes I'd make the wrong cut, other times guys were in my face. This year, our guys have been doing a really good job of holding up. I'm able to catch the ball and have a lot of yardage even before the first defender is down there. So they've done a really good job of blocking."
Two weeks prior to his touchdown against the Ravens, Crowder also had another big punt return, this time against the New York Giants.
In the second quarter of a 29-27 victory over New York, Crowder recorded a 50-yard punt return after initially going to his left – freeing himself of a tackle attempt by Dwayne Harris – before going cross-field for the long return.
At the time, it was the longest punt return by a Redskins player since the 2012 season.
"I knew that my chances were slim of getting a return," Crowder said. "But the punter kind of kicked a rugby type punt and the ball bounced and rolled. I was just like, I'm going to take a chance and I made the first guy miss. I just tried to get to the sideline, but I was so tired though - I just tried to make a play, give us a spark, and put us in position to at least come away with some points."
In total, Crowder recorded four punt returns of 20 yards or longer while having the best punt return average among members of the Redskins since 2001. His contributions also led to Washington finishing the second with an 11.9-yard punt return average. The Redskins finished the top-five in punt return average for the first time since leading the league in the category in 1995.
Crowder was named a Pro Bowl alternate for the NFC.