At first glance, Washington rookie running back Antonio Gibson's first-career rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter against Arizona on Sunday appeared like a simple score that came too little too late. When talking to the team's running back coach, Randy Jordan, there's a lot you may have missed.
From the architecture of the play to its forceful conclusion, Gibson looked like a veteran in just his second professional game. Getting the ball from Dwayne Haskins in the shotgun, surveying where his blockers were opening things up, and bursting through the hole before finding the end zone for six points, it was the kind of solid running that made veteran Adrian Peterson expendable before Week 1.
Gibson's 11-yard TD ended up as Washington's final points on the day, as the team failed to score on the ensuing 2-point try.
Jordan described the play in detail: Wide receiver Steven Sims was the "eye-candy" in motion before the snap, unsettling a defense possibly prepared to defend the pass. But it was the offensive line that helped open up a hole for Gibson to exploit, and he did the rest.
Taking a moment to "look across the street before crossing it," as Jordan says, Gibson used his explosiveness to get through the hole before it closed up. His versatile skill-set was on full display thereafter.
Not only was he agile enough to plant his foot to evade an Arizona defensive back shutting off the outside lane, but he was also powerful enough to muscle his way past three defenders waiting at the goal line. That's what impressed Jordan most.
"The thing that I really liked about it, if you watch Antonio, and it is something we've really been working on, is decisively putting your foot down and using that 228 pounds that he has and running by his pads," Jordan told NBC Sports Washington. "He's a tall guy, so we've really been working on running with his feet and finishing with low pad-level and carrying guys into the end zone."
We've seen that kind of downhill running once or twice throughout Peterson's career, and for Gibson to already be adding that to his game is a great sign for a fledgling Washington offense.
When asked if Gibson secured the game ball to commemorate his first-ever NFL TD, Jordan recalled being more focused on his play-sheet for the 2-point attempt. He's sure Gibson has it, however, just as he kept his own throughout his nine-year playing career.
"I still have them. I wasn't one when I was in the league that scored a lot of touchdowns. When I did, I kept every one of them," Jordan said. "My favorite one is from Jacksonville. Scoring the first touchdown in franchise history is something nobody can take away from me."