Similar to many games this season, the Washington Football Team couldn’t score on their opening drive and found themselves down by double-digits to the Detroit Lions at halftime. However, just like last week, Washington roared back in the second half, tying the game at 24, and then 27, after being down 24-3 in the third quarter. But, Matt Prater‘s 59-yard dagger ended Washington’s bid to be just 0.5 games back in the NFC East Race. Here are three instant takeaways from the heartbreaking loss.
Three Takeaways From the Washington Football Team’s Heartbreaking Loss in Detroit
1. Slow Start Dooms Washington Once Again
Entering Sunday’s game, the Washington Football team had been outscored 131-69 in the first half of games this season and had yet to score points on their opening drive. On Sunday, Washington still didn’t score on an opening drive and was down 17-3 at the half. After a 19-yard completion to Terry McLaurin, Washington was on the Lions 21-yard line on their opening drive. However, a failed double-reverse lost 10 yards and Alex Smith took a critical third-down sack to knock Washington out of field goal range. The defense didn’t look much better as DeAndre Swift had three carries for 32 yards on the Lions’ first drive, followed by a 55-yard completion to Marvin Hall.
Washington moved the ball consistently in the first half but was hampered by another missed field goal by Dustin Hopkins and a rare fumble by Terry McLaurin.
2. Chase Young and Front Seven Stifled; Key Penalty Leads to Game-Winning Kick
The highly-touted defensive line and the linebacking corps of Washington struggled again this week. Stafford was sacked just once on the day, on another safety blitz by Kamren Curl, and the Lions averaged 5.0 yards per carry, including 81 yards by DeAndre Swift. Cole Holcomb didn’t continue the aggressive play he showed against the Dallas Cowboys, as he, along with the defensive line, did not have a tackle for loss. On the edge, Montez Sweat and Chase Young entered the game with 8.5 sacks combined, but neither got to Stafford. With Washington’s success blitzing in key situations, it does seem odd how defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio rushes just four on earlier downs.
After Dustin Hopkins tied the game, the Lions had 16 seconds to get into field goal range. Washington was fortunate after Stafford overthrew Quintez Cephus, but Chase Young had a massive, and unnecessary, roughing the passer penalty. The penalty moved Detroit to midfield. With just six seconds left, Washington did not play press coverage, leading to an easy completion to Marvin Jones. Prater hit the 59-yard field goal to drop Washington to 2-7.
3. Alex Smith Puts Up Career Highs With Clutch Throws Down the Stretch
It may not have been the most exhilarating nearly 400-yard game, but Alex Smith threw for a career-high 390 yards, going 38 for 55. This consisted of numerous drag routes and check-downs to J.D. McKissic, but Smith did make huge plays down the stretch. On the game-tying drive, Smith hit McLaurin for 26 yards on a third and 13. Earlier, Smith connected with Logan Thomas for 27 yards and Steven Sims Jr. for 23. He also converted a huge fourth and 13 in the red zone, finding Thomas again. Despite not having the same mobility as pre-injury, Smith made a few plays moving outside the pocket, including a pass that was off the hands of McKissic in the red zone.
Last week seems like an exception for Smith, who threw three interceptions, as he did not turn the ball over and played his natural conservative game.