LANDOVER — Derrius Guice crossed the goal line and scored the first touchdown of his career, but the emotions the Redskins running back was feeling were different than he’d expected. The 22-year-old had worked so hard to get back to this point, rehabbing from two knee injuries — a torn ACL in his left knee in 2018 and a torn meniscus in his right knee earlier this season.
Speaking to reporters at his locker after the Redskins’ 34-17 loss Sunday to the New York Jets, Guice said the defeat spoiled the touchdown.
“It’s not about me,” Guice said, “it was about the team losing (and) that really stinks, so it kind of took the excitement out of it.”
Guice’s touchdown was a fleeting bright spot for the Redskins as they were dominated Sunday. In the fourth quarter, the running back broke free after catching a short screen pass from quarterback Dwayne Haskins and powered his way through defenders to take it all the way for 45 yards.
The score helped Washington snap a touchdown drought of 16 quarters — the league’s longest since at least 2001, according to ESPN.
“He got fresh legs, baby,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “He’s been off about eight weeks. I thought he gave us a good energy boost and we’ve got to keep building off it. Him and (Adrian Peterson) need to get a 1-2 punch going. I was really impressed.”
Sunday marked Guice’s first appearance since Week 1, when he suffered a knee injury against the Philadelphia Eagles that sidelined him for eight weeks on injured reserve. Guice had won the starting job in training camp, but the setback raised questions of the second-rounder’s role upon his return.
Throughout the week, interim coach Bill Callahan was vague when speaking to reporters when asked how he planned to divide carries between Peterson and Guice. After Guice’s injury, Peterson emerged again this season as the Redskins’ leading rusher and observers wondered who would see more playing time.
On Sunday, Callahan split the reps between the two. The Redskins went with Peterson early on. Guice didn’t record his first snap until the second quarter, with Wendell Smallwood acting as the team’s third-down back.
But the Redskins ended up getting both players involved — though Washington still struggled to run the ball. Peterson finished with nine carries for 25 yards, while Guice had 24 yards on seven attempts. Entering the afternoon, the Jets had the second-best run defense in the league, giving up only 81.9 yards per game.
Callahan said there was a “good rotation” between Peterson and Guice.
“We felt the concept was good for Adrian, they defended them well,” Callahan said. “Some of the plays that Guice had lent itself a little bit more opportunity, so there’s a little bit of give and take in that one play is better than the other. It could have worked out either way.”
Haskins, meanwhile, said he was proud of Guice.
“That’s my brother,” Haskins said. “For him to reply on me, for me to lean on him and for us to plays for each other, it meant a lot for me. I know that he really wanted that touchdown, and he’d seen a lot of plays to get there. I gave him the ball, and I hope we can do some more touchdowns like that.”
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