For one split-second, the Washington Football Team was 0-2 and in last place of the NFC East. Questionable kicker Dustin Hopkins missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt, and it appeared as if the Burgundy and Gold would be in a huge hole (the last time they made the playoffs after beginning 0-2 was 1984) to start the season.
But when you’re trying to find footing in September, it’s always helpful to be facing a team that is even better at getting in their own way than you are. The New York Giants’ Dexter Lawrence jumped offside on the play and Hopkins connected from 43 yards out to give Washington a 30-29 victory.
Taylor Made: Quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns in the win, and his 93 completions in his first three career starts is an NFL record. Yes, he threw an interception in the fourth quarter that seemingly doomed Washington. But he more than made up for it by going 6 of 8 on the final drive of the night to get the team into field goal range. His legend is growing.
Ground Control to Major Gibson: Antonio Gibson ran 13 times for 69 yards, giving him 159 for two games and on pace to break the 1,000 yard barrier. He also got the ball twice on third down, converting once (Gibson moved the chains on a fourth down run). J.D. McKissic added 10 yards on carries, twice getting the job done on third down while scoring a touchdown. After two weeks, Washington (106.5 yards per game) ranks 20th in the league.
Pass Catch Fever: Terry McLaurin caught 11 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown while Adam Humphries added seven receptions. Logan Thomas and McKissic each caught five passes as seven players caught passes from Heinicke.
Third Down and Not Awesome: The offense moved the chains on 4-13 attempts, converting on three of four runs and one of nine pass plays. Heinicke completed 4-6 passes for one conversion while scrambling twice and getting sacked once. His top target? Humphries (two catches on two passes thrown to for one conversion). Yardage Breakdown: 3-6 on short-yardage, 1-2 on four to six yards needed, and 0-5 on third and long. What I like is how they faced short-yardage on almost half of their third downs.
D earns a Passing Mark: One week after holding Justin Herbert and the Chargers to 20 points, Washington’s defense coughs up 30 to Daniel Jones and the Giants. And it could have been worse: a holding penalty wiped out a Jones 58-yard run for a touchdown and Darius Slayton dropped a sure touchdown pass in the end zone. Kendall Fuller led the way with eight tackles, and even though I’ve made my case for not liking a world where your leading tackler is a defensive back, three of his stops came on third down (twice he forced a Giants punt). Jonathan Allen added six stops with two sacks. After allowing the Chargers to convert 14-19 third downs, Washington was much better, getting off of the field on 8-12 money downs.
Special Situations: Tress Way averaged 50 yards per punt and Dustin Hopkins converted field goal attempts of 37, 43, and 49 yards. That 48-yarder that went wide NEVER HAPPENED. Five of six kickoffs were touchbacks. Punt and kick coverage contained the Giants. DeAndre Carter ripped off a 27-yard kickoff return and averaged a little over 20 yards on the night. There were no punt returns.
Flying Flags: Nine penalties for 80 yards, with two on offense and special teams while the other five came against the defense. After two weeks, Washington has the seventh most penalties for the 11th most yards in the league. Chase Young leads the team with three penalties after two weeks, and his roughing the passer was perhaps the most costly infraction against the Giants. New York went from facing a 3rd & 12 on the Washington 16 yard line to getting a 1st & goal from the 8. They’d score their first touchdown of the night two plays later.
Digesting the Division: Washington owns the division record tiebreaker and is in first place after two weeks, with Philadelphia ahead of Dallas, thanks to the conference record tiebreaker. The New York Giants are 0-2 for the fifth straight year and occupy the cellar. They remain in 14th place of the conference so Joe Judge’s team still has work to do.
West is Best: The NFC West is 7-1 after two weeks and one year after there was talk that all four teams from that division might make the expanded playoffs by taking each of the Wild Cards, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear it again. The NFC East is 3-5 and tied for fifth while the AFC South and NFC North are both 2-6.