Undrafted rookie Anthony Lanier II was active for the the first time in a regular season game on Sunday and helped prevent a potential Bengals scoring drive with a fumble recovery.
Sunday had a lot of firsts for the Redskins. It was the first time the team played a regular season game in England and for many players, the first time they have ever been to the country. It was also the first time at least a majority of the Redskins have experienced a game without a winner or loser.
But for Anthony Lanier II, Sunday's game represented an even more significant first. He played in his first NFL regular season game, ever.
The undrafted rookie was named active for the matchup at Wembley Stadium after not dressing the first seven games of the season. Heading into the contest, the team wasn't sure at first if the numbers would work out for him to play. But when he found out he would indeed be making his debut, Lanier II knew he wanted to take advantage of his shot.
"At first it was kind of iffy," Lanier II told Redskins.com. "But towards the end of the week it was more like, 'Hey, we're going to put you out there, it's your time to shine and show what you can do.' I need to comb my hair and perform."
And he sure did look good out there.
On 3rd-and-1 play with only a little more than a minute left in overtime, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton attempted a quarterback sneak. The ball, however, was stripped out of his arms by defensive end Chris Baker and Lanier II then jumped on the ball, holding on despite being under a pile of players.
"It was crazy," Lanier said. "When the ball went up in the air, I just grabbed it and I just tucked it. I was on the bottom of the pile for a minute and I couldn't get up and celebrate too good, but it feels amazing because I'm making a difference, helping my team."
The play prevented the Bengals from continuing to march down the field into Redskins' territory to win the game and also gave the Redskins one more chance to put away the game themselves.
"They tried to run a quarterback sneak, and I split the center and the guard and got my hands on the quarterback," Baker said. "Once I felt the ball, I practiced the strip and it actually worked on that play. I'm glad Anthony [Lanier] was able to recover it, we gave our offense another chance to go out there and try to finish the game off, but we just came up a little short today."
While they were ultimately unable to score any more points, the play made a big impact in not losing the game. For Baker, it was nice to see Lanier II take part in a significant play and finally get a chance to show what he can do.
"It felt good, we've been wanting him to play all year and he finally got a chance to go out there," Baker said. "I was happy I was able to force the fumble and he was able to grab it."
Being out on the field meant a lot to Lanier II, especially getting the opportunity to help his team.
"It was honorable," Lanier II said.
The Alabama A&M product will continue to get opportunities after the bye week and have the chance to build off of his introduction to professional football. And this rookie already knows it's about taking it one opportunity at a time.
"You just have to put it back, take it one game at a time," Lanier II said. "Next week we got our bye week, but the week after that we got the Vikings. You got to be ready. Every week is one game at a time, 1-0. You don't worry about the past. Cant change the past, but you can control the future."