Washington had Detroit looking like a 6 win team in their loss
Washington found itself struggling to put anything together in the first half again. Quarterback Alex Smith had marched the offense down the field into field goal range,
but proceeded to take a horrible 14-yard sack forcing Washington to punt. And it all snowballed from there. So much so that running back J.D. McKissic saw 11 targets in the first half. Yes, you read that right. McKissic had more targets then the rest of the receivers combined (10). Kicker Dustin Hopkins missed another 40+ yard field goal early which had everyone wondering if he was going to be staying in town much longer.
The offense was able to turn it around as offensive coordinator Scott Turner and Smith found their rhythm. They were able to mix some running plays up the middle that were working on the first drive and quicker routes by wide receivers Terry McLaurin, Isaiah Wright, and Steven Sims, Jr.
Rookie running back Antonio Gibson had a mixed game with only 45 yards rushing, but was able to reach the end zone twice. As noted above, McKissic continues to see his usage in the passing game increase even with less than a 50-percent completion rate.
Being in a hole early is not ideal and we have seen time and again as the offense requires short plays and takes up chunks of time.
The defense also continued its first half struggles. Rookie running back D’Andre Swift was made to look like Barry Sanders. Swift ran for 44 yards on 8 carries helping set up 2 Matthew Stafford passing touchdowns. One to Marvin Hall and the other to Marvin Jones, Jr. Swift finished the game with 81 rushing yards on 17 carries and 5 catches for 68 receiving yards and a touchdown on 5 targets.
Stafford continued throughout the game to find open holes in Washington’s zone defense. His key play came on Marvin Jones, Jr.’s touchdown where he split the cover-2 defense on the left side when Kendall Fuller was not able to rotate over in time after cornerback Jimmy Moreland passed him off.
It was a quiet game for the defensive line as they registered only one sack by rookie safety Kamren Curl which was the lone quarterback hit. The lack of pressure is what allowed Stafford to get comfortable in the pocket and take the shots necessary to put the Lions on the board. This was also arguably the worst game of the year for Fuller. We saw multiple times where he was beat easily on routes run by receivers that he should be running circles around.
The defense was able to come around in the second half and hold the Lions to 13 points prior to the game winning 59-yard field goal by Matt Prater. Even with that game winning field goal, Washington was able to outscore Detroit 24 to 13. That included a tenuous 41-yard field goal to tie the game up at 24 a piece.
The definition of insanity is repeating things over and over again and getting the same result. Ron Rivera and the rest of the coaching staff will need to figure out how to break this insane pattern if they want to have a real opportunity to put another win on the board before the season comes to an end.
Deciding play of the game
This could have gone to a couple of different players, but this ultimately lands on rookie defensive end Chase Young. As time was winding down in the game, Young inexplicably shoves Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford after the ball left his hands. This caused a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty that put them within kicker Matt Prater’s range. Prater nailed a game winning 59-yard field goal as time expires. If Young doesn’t take that penalty, there would have likely been overtime and a chance for Washington to win.
Washington’s opponents have scored 30+ points 19 times while they have scored 30+ points only twice.
Rookie running back Antonio Gibson is now 6 touchdowns away from tying Alfred Morris for most touchdowns by a Washington rookie.
This is the first time quarterback Alex Smith has thrown for 300+ yards in back to back games.
Alex Smith (2,607) passed Ryan Fitzpatrick (2,605) for the 17th most rushing yards by a quarterback in NFL history. (H/T Jake Russell @_JakeRussell)
Defensive end Ryan Anderson left the game after a punt coverage tackle with a right kneed injury. Safety Deshazor Everett left the game with an ankle injury. Left tackle Cornelius Lucas left the game with a left leg injury.