The Washington Football team lost a thriller in Detroit on Sunday, 30-27, as Matt Prater kicked a 59-yard field goal as time expired.
Washington trailed 24-3 before Alex Smith took over at quarterback. Smith, making his first start in two years, rallied the team to the tune of 21 unanswered points to tie the game and finished 38 of 55 for 390 yards, a career high.
The numbers look good all around, but the one thing that counts is winning, and this team continues to get plagued by the same issues week after week.
Here are four takeaways from the loss.
It’s still Alex’s team
The 36-year-old Smith, making his first start in two years, proved that he can still play this game and isn’t going anywhere. It was a slow start again for this team, falling into a 24-3 hole before mounting the comeback.
Smith set career highs for completions (38) and passing yards (390) while leading three touchdown drives in the second half to complete the comeback. Smith threw for over 300 yards in consecutive weeks for the first time in his career.
Coach Ron Rivera has said he needs to evaluate the quarterback position to find out if the future quarterback is currently on the roster. Don’t be surprised if he is and the guy under center now is at the head of that evaluation.
Another slow start for the defense
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had his way with the Washington defense in the first half. He led three long scoring drives, including the longest of the season for the Lions. Stafford hooked up with Marvin Hall for a 55-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
Washington allowed long scoring drives all game, and despite forcing three-and-outs during the comeback, Washington allowed an 11-play drive culminating in a field goal after it tied the game.
The Lions averaged nearly 7 yards a play — that cannot happen. Week after week, the defense finds itself in a hole early on, and Sunday was no different, as the team trailed 17-3 at the half and then 24-3 in the third quarter. It’s tough to win games when you have to come from behind week after week.
Hopkins struggles again
All week, kicker Dustin Hopkins was on the injury report with a groin injury, and the coaches weren’t even sure he would kick Sunday. He did, but again missed a field goal in the first half from 43 yards.
He did connect on a game-tying field goal with 16 seconds left, but again he left points on the field.
Chase Young with a big costly penalty late in the game
After Washington tied the game at 27, the Lions got the ball with 16 seconds left, and instead of playing for overtime, the team went for the win.
After an incompletion with six seconds left, Young took a couple of extra steps toward Stafford and ended up shoving him to the ground, resulting in a roughing-the-passer penalty. The Lions then had the ball at midfield with time for one more play to get them into field goal range.
Prater then connected from 59 yards to win the game. It was a costly mistake that the rookie said he will learn from.
That one play did not lose the game for Washington, though. There were too many self-inflicted wounds that contributed to that. They aren’t good enough to overcome mistakes like that right now and win games.
Despite the loss that left its record at 2-7, Washington still finds itself 1.5 games out of first place in an awful NFC East. The Bengals are in town next week.