INDIANAPOLIS — Seventy family and friends in the stands knew what to expect when the ball was passed to Terry McLaughlin. They’ve seen it before — at this stage. The Washington Commander had 52 teammates and a few others on the sidelines, and they knew what to expect. They’ve seen it before – in training, in games, even the week before.
So McLaughlin did what he did at Lucas Oil Stadium as a kid: He got the big balls that helped his team win games.
McLaughlin catches dropback Stephon Gilmore from 33 yards, who falls off the goal line with 26 seconds left, spins and collects the ball to allow Taylor Heinicke ) for a touchdown and a 17-16 win.
“Terry is not going to be turned down,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said.
That’s why Washington signed McLaughlin over the summer to a three-year deal worth a whopping $68.2 million.
“He’s done these games before he gets paid,” Rivera said. “Now that he’s getting paid, he’s playing. He’s still the same guy. One of the things I like is that he tells me a lot now, ‘I want the ball.’ It’s a big thing.”
Washington (4-4) won its third straight game; it won those games by eight points in total.
Indianapolis native McLaughlin once again played a key role. In last week’s game against the Green Bay Packers, he aggressively returned for 12 yards in a clutch third-and-9 with 2:13 left, giving the commanders nearly two more minutes to run .
On Sunday, he caught six passes for 113 yards, none of which were bigger than the last. Heinicke won time by sliding around in the pocket, then backed up before throwing to McLaurin, who played behind Gilmore as his quarterback won time.
“It’s like slow motion,” McLaughlin said. “He saw me, I saw him, the ball was in the air – my eyes were on the ball.”
Or, as teammate and perimeter player Curtis Samuel put it, “He dunks on him … We see that over and over again. Every time you give him a chance, he plays. “
But it ended an exciting day and week for McLaughlin. He’s been a Colts fan since he was a kid, sitting in the 540th with his dad watching his idol, former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison, play. McLaughlin even wore Harrison’s number. 88 consecutive Halloween jerseys as a kid. Harrison asked for a photo with McLaughlin before Sunday’s game.
“I thought, ‘Me?'” McLaughlin said.
There were those 70 family and friends, and McLaughlin bought a few tickets for them.
“It’s crazy,” McLaughlin said of the pregame scene.
After that, he spent a full 10 minutes partying with those outside the locker room, hugging his family and reuniting with childhood friends who knew the Colts could have drafted him. They reminisce in quick fashion; they hug; they brag; they hug some more; they laugh.
There were cousin tears and everyone’s smiles and bragging about knowing this moment was going to happen. A childhood friend, Grant Prather, made his way to the front row before the final blow and begged McLaughlin to flex his muscles.
But at this stage, that’s what McLaughlin does. He won two state championships at Cathedral High School while playing at Lucas Oil Stadium. As a junior, he scored on 79 catches and 66 returns. Both hold the state’s Class 4A playoff record. As a senior, he caught a 41-yard touchdown pass. At Ohio State, he won two Big Ten championships on the grass.
No wonder Commander’s offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. He tweeted “HIS CITY” after the game – including a photo of him hugging McLaughlin from behind while pointing his left hand to the wing.
“That game was great, it’s great to be where I am now, to see how far my journey has come, to see how much I’m growing and trying to be the leader of this team,” McGraw said. Lin said. “That was a cool moment we’ll never forget.”
Washington selected McLaughlin in the third round of the 2018 draft and is expected to be a standout and helpful receiver for a special team. He instantly turned into a huge threat, collecting 125 yards in his first game. Last summer, he became one of the highest-paid receivers. He now has 33 catches for 558 yards this season.
McLaughlin made his final catch on Sunday, in part because he struggled to learn how to make controversial catches, something he felt he didn’t do well early in his career.
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe I’m really standing here,” said McLaughlin, who was catching the ball in the locker room. “It’s very humbling to be trusted in this situation.”