*The Redskins' tight end injured his shoulder on a hit in the end zone in the second quarter. He returned in the second half with two touchdowns and a gutsy performance.
Tight end Jordan Reed grimaced in pain as a team staff member helped pull a shirt over his head in the locker room following the Redskins' 31-26 defeat to the Cowboys Thursday evening.
Reed had separated the AC joint in his left shoulder, which had bulged out once he took off his pads, an injury that occurred just a few plays into the second quarter. Quarterback Kirk Cousins sailed a pass over his head in the back of the end zone and Cowboys defensive back Jeff Heath shoved Reed on his way down to the ground.
The Florida product had to exit the field to be examined and later returned from the medical room with his arm in a sling and what seemed to be a dubious chance to return to the game. Reed said doctors recommended he sit out for the rest of the game, but with the Redskins trailing by 11 points – and with enough ability to catch a variety of passes from quarterback Colt McCoy before the second half began – the tight end said he couldn't sit on the sidelines in the biggest game of the season.
"I didn't think I was going to come back, but then I started moving it around and I felt better," Reed said. "I felt like I had a chance to play so that's what I tried to do."
Even while in pain, Reed finished the game with 10 receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns, with eight catches, 80 yards and both scores coming in the second half.
"I noticed [the pain] the whole time. I just kind of blocked it out and kept praying and things like that. I was able to fight through it," Reed said.
Reed said doctors told him he probably wouldn't return to the game, but "it was my choice and I made my choice."
In doing so, he moved to No. 12 on the Redskins' all-time receptions list, passing Brian Mitchell and Larry Brown, and passed Don Warren for the fourth-most career receiving yards by a tight end in Redskins history.
That included the biggest highlight of the Thanksgiving slate of games during the team's second offensive series of the third quarter. Facing a third-and-4 around midfield, quarterback Kirk Cousins lofted a pass down the sideline for Reed, who made an incredible one-handed 33-yard catch over safety Byron Jones, who committed pass interference on the play.
Two plays later, Reed collected his first touchdown, baiting Jones on an inside route that he reversed and turned outside for a short-yardage score.
His final score came with just under two minutes in the back of the end zone, an 8-yard play that culminated a 75-yard drive that included six total completions. His last grab, which brought the Cowboys lead to five points, tied Clint Didier (19) for fourth-most scored by a tight end in Redskins history.
Tight end Vernon Davis, who filled in nicely in Reed's absence, didn't have anything but praise for Reed's ability to return from an injury in the middle of a game.
"I don't know the severity of the injury, but I know it was pretty painful for him," Davis said. "When I walked in after the game, he was sitting here in so much pain, and I could feel it. For him to be able to come out and play the way he did tonight, his performance was unprecedented. It was amazing, it was beautiful to see him come back out there. Despite taking the loss, we kept fighting, and a guy like Jordan Reed comes back and continues to fight, it speaks volumes on who he is as a player."
"That's a tough injury he's going through, but he went out there and fought it out – made plays," defensive end Chris Baker said. "He's a tough guy so we've just got to use the next couple days to see how bad his injury is and try to heal up as fast as possible."
Despite the pain, Reed knows this type of gutsy performance is what he expects of himself.
"I think it has a lot to do with my maturity and things like that – how I've grown, and how my teammates look at me and the faith they have in me to come through in certain situations," Reed said. "And when I'm not out there, I feel like I'm letting them down. I don't like to miss time."