You could call it a tale of two halves.
Washington led Kansas City 13-10 at intermission, and the offense was sustaining drives while the defense was causing turnovers.
Despite all of the noise from the previous week, from a former executive getting emails that brought down the Raiders coach to the sudden announcement of the retiring of the late Sean Taylor’s No. 21, the Burgundy and Gold were playing over their heads against the defending AFC champs.
But once the second-half air settled, the team we’ve grown to know and love this fall resurfaced. From a missed field goal to a three-and-out in the third quarter, to an interception in the fourth, the offensive well suddenly went dry.
Meanwhile, the defense allowed three consecutive touchdown drives, including a 15-play, 96-yard march that took 7:18 off the clock in the fourth quarter and removed all doubt in Washington’s 31-13 loss. And instead of getting back to .500, Washington is 2-4 wondering when its next meal will come.
Taylor Time: Heinicke completed 24-39 passes for 182 yards (check down often?), tossing one touchdown pass with one interception (in the fourth quarter with the team down 18). Whereas in previous weeks he made plays with his feet, Heinicke didn’t run the ball once and he wasn’t sacked Sunday. As each week wraps up, he looks more like the hard worker with a ceiling than the understudy who only needed a chance in the spotlight. But he’s the best option for the moment.
Running Mates: The tandem of J.D. McKissic (eight carries for 45 yards plus eight catches for 65 yards) and Antonio Gibson (10 carries for 44 yards with a fumble) provided the necessary lightning and thunder. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Chiefs, but one has to be confident in the ground game moving forward.
Pass Catch Fever: Ricky Seals-Jones filled in admirably for the injured Logan Thomas at tight end, catching four passes for 58 yards and the team’s only touchdown. Terry McLaurin made four grabs for 28 yards, no doubt feeling the absence of the injured Curtis Samuel. Dyami Brown made three catches for 30 yards, twice converting a third and long.
Third and First/Second: Washington was 7-14 at moving the chains, converting 6-10 money downs in the first half and 1-4 after intermission. Gibson moved the chains on both of his runs while McKissic’s one carry resulted in a conversion. Heinicke completed 6-11 passes with four conversions. The top target? Dyami Brown had caught two of the four balls thrown his way for a pair of conversions. Yardage breakdown: 3-4 on short-yardage, 1-4 on 3rd & 4-6 yards needed, 3-6 on long-yardage.
D earns another one: Washington allowed 499 yards and 31 points (extending their streak to five straight games of 30+ points coughed up). Rookie Jamin Davis led the team with 11 tackles while Cole Holcomb notched 10 stops with a sack. Kendall Fuller and Bobby McCain each intercepted Patrick Mahomes in the first half while Kamren Curl recorded a fumble recovery. On third down Washington allowed the Chiefs to move the chains on 11-17 attempts, including eight straight in the second half (once again a Washington foe gets a non-conversion in the final minutes running out the clock). Way too many third down tackles being made by defensive backs post-conversion. After six weeks the defense that was expected to carry this team is last in the NFL defending the pass and getting off of the field on third down.
Special Situations: Dustin Hopkins connected on field goal attempts from 43 and 50 yards while missing a 42-yarder that wound up being the team’s last best chance to score. He had three touchbacks in four kickoffs while the one returned was tackled at the Kansas City 15. Tress Way averaged 58 yards per punt (with a long of 66) while getting whistled for going low on a blocker during a punt return. Deandre Carter averaged 19 yards per kickoff return with a long of 23 and there were no punts returned by Washington. Punt coverage allowed returns of 25 and 31 yards.
Flying Flags: Six accepted penalties on nine flags (two declined and one offsetting) for 44 yards. Two on offense (false start and a pass interference), five on defense (two offsides, two holds, and an illegal use of the hands), two on special teams (low block and offsides). So far this year false starts and offensive/special teams holding are the most-called infractions with seven apiece, and William Jackson III’s five penalties pace the team (he was flagged a sixth time Sunday but the penalty was declined). Most costly flag? Back to back plays where Montez Sweat and Chase Young were offsides. The first turned a fourth and 10 into a third and five while the second would have yielded a first down if the Chiefs hadn’t converted the third and five. Kansas City would score the go-ahead touchdown two plays after making the first down.
Digesting the Division: Dallas (5-1) leads the NFC East and owns the fourth seed in the NFC after losing strength-of-victory tiebreakers with Green Bay and Tampa Bay. Washington (2-4) holds on to second because of a better division record than Philadelphia while the New York Giants (1-5) remain in the cellar. Washington, Philly, and the Giants are currently 12th, 13th, and 15th in the conference.
North by North West: The NFC West (15-8) remains tops in the quartet competition but they’re followed closely by the AFC North (15-9). The NFC East (10-14) is barely ahead of the AFC East (8-15) and South (8-16) who bring up the rear. The NFC owns a 17-12 lead over the AFC in the always-underwhelming conference competition.