While the Redskins found struggles in the red zone, they have optimism moving forward with the dual receiving production from tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis.
It would have been reasonable, even logical, to assume that tight end Jordan Reed's return to the Redskins' starting lineup last Sunday at Wembley Stadium would cut into the production that his substitute Vernon Davis had acquired in his concussed absence.
Indeed, Reed's return was a welcome sight for the offense – the Florida product didn't miss a beat after missing two games, collecting nine passes for 99 yards -- however, it didn't detract from Davis' opportunities.
The Redskins' 27-27 tie to the Bengals was due in large part to the fact that quarterback Kirk Cousins had two equally reliable tight ends streaking over the middle of the field and surprising defensive backs with their speed and playmaking ability on the outside as well. They both had career games, an indication that their individual success breeds offensive success.
Davis finished with five catches for 93 yards – including a 44 yard floater down the sideline that mimicked a similar big-play wheel route he caught against the Eagles two weeks earlier – and proved how dynamic the team's dual threat could be. Cousins ended up with 458 passing yards and two touchdowns, a score and 192 yards of which came from the tight ends group.
"Jordan Reed, he comes out and does it," Davis said. "He comes out and does what he does every single Sunday. He gives his very best. He's a tremendous talent. Niles Paul, tremendous talent. We as a group collectively, we went in and handled our responsibilities and played football."
"We always feel like we have an advantage in the passing game with the weapons we have," Reed said. "They can't really double any of us because somebody else can get open. So I feel like we took advantage of that and we were able to get open."
Along with the team's first experience playing a regular season game in London, Reed and Davis made some personal history as well.
That came first with one of the most explosive, athletic plays of the season, a 7-yard pass play that turned into a 23-yard dive over the goal line. With the Redskins trailing by 10 points in the third quarter, Reed ran an out route and felt a Bengals defender ready to attack him from his outside hip. Once he caught the pass, he made a hard plant and pivoted back towards the middle of the field, speeding through a narrow lane and diving into the end zone, cutting Cincinnati's lead to three.
The 23-yard touchdown, his third score of the season, was the longest scoring play of Reed's career, surpassing a 22-yard touchdown catch at Philadelphia in Week 16 last season
"That was all God, man. I just...he blessed me on that play to cut it back inside," Reed said. "Usually I would've just went back outside and I just went back inside and I was able to take it in…When those guys are coming from inside out, they over pursue. You just kind of turn back inside and there's a lot of yards in there. Vernon did it a couple of times today. You just take advantage of the look."
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' offense in their 2016 Week 8 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals Oct. 30, 2016, at Wembley Stadium in London.
Early in the fourth quarter, Cousins rolled out of the pocket on a play-action bootleg and needled a pass to Davis, who extended the play for 26-yard completion. His extra effort was enough to pass Jeremy Shockey for 12th-most receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history (6,157 yards). His 44-yard catch in the second quarter was also Davis' longest catch since a 52-yard touchdown reception in Week 15 of the 2013 season as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
"I think we did a great job today of fighting, staying in the game," Davis said. "After the bye week we have to come back in and just make an assessment and correct some things. Some small things, but I strongly believe that we can get back on track and do some great things as a football team because we have the weapons, we have the guys, and we can get it done."
Both players weren't able to summarize their feelings about the rare stalemate, but knew their production together will only spell good things to come in the second half of the season.
"We've just got to try and stay positive," Reed said. "Take the positives with the negatives and move on to next week. Since we get the bye week, correct the mistakes we had and move on to the Vikings."