The Washington Football Team is in first place in the NFC East all alone with three games left in the regular season. Let that sink in for a second.
The Burgundy and Gold defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-15 in Arizona. Washington has now won four straight games and has put the NFL on notice with three games remaining.
Here are four takeaways from the win in the desert.
Chase Young is a beast
There isn’t anything that the rookie out of Ohio State hasn’t been able to do this year. He was all over the field on Sunday forcing fumbles, batting down passes, disrupting plays and returning a fumble 47 yards for a touchdown.
Young became the first player in franchise history with a fumble return for a touchdown, a forced fumble and a sack in a single game. He did all that before halftime.
“We’re not done yet,” he said after the game.
White-on-White in first place
With the Giants losing to the Cardinals, Washington is now alone in first place at 6-7. Remember when the NFC East was the joke of the NFL, and everyone thought the winner could possibly have five or six wins? Well, it could still happen, but the division is looking a little better as of late, with Washington having won four straight games, three of which have been on the road.
The Burgundy and Gold have three games left, and two are against teams that are under five-hundred. Coach Ron Rivera has this team believing.
“You’ve earned the right to be the first place team in the NFC East…I’m gonna tell you right now, act like it,” Rivera told his team after the game. “Be professional. Understand what it takes to be a professional and do the professional thing. Understand this: Nobody, and I promise you, nobody, wants to play us.”
He might be right.
The team also wore the all-white uniforms now for a second straight game. Rivera said after the Pittsburgh game that he was waiting for a big game to break them out.
Will we see them each week from here on out?
Remember in 2005, Joe Gibbs’ second year back, the team went to the all-white with five games when it was 5-6? The team needed to win all five to get into the playoffs, and it did just that.
Defense shines again
Yes, Young stole the show, but he had some help Sunday. Kamren Curl helped out in a big way, returning a Nick Mullens interception 76 yards for a touchdown.
Washington returned a fumble for a touchdown and had an interception return for a score in the same game for the ninth time in franchise history and the first since 1997.
Jack Del Rio’s unit sacked Nick Mullens four times and also recovered two fumbles. The group was flying all over the field disrupting what the 49ers were trying to do.
It also allowed only 54 yards rushing over the final three quarters of the game.
Smith out, Haskins in
Washington got a little bit of a scare when quarterback Alex Smith left the game with what was called a strained calf. As a result, Dwayne Haskins entered the game for the first time since being benched after week four.
He played the entire second half, and after leading an 11-play drive that resulted in a field goal, he couldn’t get much going. He finished 7 of 12 for 51 yards. Smith was off to a rough start, too, and finished 8 of 19 for 57 yards and an interception.
Rivera said after the game that Smith has a calf strain and that x-rays were negative. It sounds like it’s too early to tell if he’ll be ready for the Seahawks next Sunday.
Receiver Terry McLaurin didn’t have a standout game, recording just two catches, but he did become a 1000-yard receiver.