On what was already a solemn afternoon due to the retirement of the late Sean Taylor’s number 21, Washington was unable to lift the spirits in FedEx Field after a flagitious 31–13 loss to the Chiefs. After a strong first half that saw Washington take a 13–10 lead into the break, it looked like they had a real shot to upset Kansas City. Unfortunately, the defense returned to mediocrity in the second half and allowed the Chiefs offense to put up 21 unanswered points en route to an easy victory.
Here are three takeaways from Washington’s downright dreadful performance:
The defense played their best half of football all season
For the first time all season, Washington’s defense played solid football — at least for one half. The front seven generated constant pressure, forcing rushed throws for most of the afternoon. The defense also forced several turnovers, capitalizing off of Kansas City’s mistakes; a ball that went right through the hands of Tyreek Hill led to a Kendall Fuller interception. Later in the half, Cole Holcomb punched the ball out of Mecole Hardman’s hands, giving the ball right back to the offense after Antonio Gibson had just fumbled himself. The very next possession, Mahomes threw what might be the one of the worst interceptions of all-time: A botched snap led to immediate pressure from Chase Young and, instead of taking the sack, Mahomes shotput a wobbling ball straight into the air that Bobby McCain easily picked off. Unfortunately, the defense couldn’t continue their stellar play in the second half. The Chiefs put up 21 straight points, with the defense offering little resistance. Patrick Mahomes started making plays only Patrick Mahomes could make, and the Chiefs’ offense proved too much for the Washington defense to handle in the second half.
The offense didn’t show up
Through six weeks, the offense had been the only unit giving Washington any chance of winning games. Against the Chiefs, however, the offense completely disappeared and was nowhere to be seen all afternoon. They were only able to put up 13 points against a Kansas City defense that came into the week ranked in the bottom five in nearly every defensive statistic. Taylor Heinicke struggled once again and threw one of the weirdest interceptions you’ll ever see. That interception essentially summed up Washington’s afternoon. The Washington rushing attack mustered 94 yards against a Kansas City defense that was allowing 141 rushing yards per game entering Sunday. It felt like every time Washington got the ball across midfield, the offense would stall. Throughout the entirety of the game, Washington didn’t snap the ball from inside Kansas City’s 20 yard line a single time. The only impactful play of the game was when Taylor Heinicke capitalized on blown coverage by the Kansas City secondary, hitting Ricky Seals-Jones for a 39-yard touchdown — Washington’s first and last touchdown of the game.
Penalties continue to hurt Washington
Penalties have plagued Washington all season long, and they continued to be a problem on Sunday against the Chiefs. Six penalties cost them over 40 yards, and while that may not seem like a detrimental amount, the flags were thrown in a few key situations. After an unsurprising missed field goal from Dustin Hopkins, Washington’s defense was put in a tough position to keep their lead or at least hold the Chiefs to a field goal. They got Kansas City to third and ten and were able to force an incomplete pass, presumptuously forcing a field goal attempt from Harrison Butker. However, Montez Sweat had lined up in the neutral zone, giving the Chiefs five yards and a replay of third down. Once again, Washington was able to force an incompletion, but this time it was Chase Young who jumped offsides, giving Mahomes a first down, who eventually found Tyreek Hill in the end zone two plays later. After this drive, Washington’s defense disappeared for good, allowing a touchdown on both of the Chiefs’ final two drives.
Washington’s schedule doesn’t get any easier in the upcoming weeks; they travel to Green Bay and Denver before returning home to take on the reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. If Washington wants a shot to win any of their next few games, the defense needs to build on their first half performance from Sunday, and the offense needs to improve drastically.