Washington fans may need to take a few days off after Monday night’s nail-biter against the Seahawks.
After controlling most of the game and going up 17–9 late in the fourth quarter, it looked like Washington had a clear path to their third consecutive victory.
Before you could blink twice, the Seahawks drove right down the field and scored with 32 seconds remaining to pull within two. On the two-point conversion attempt, Russell Wilson was picked off by Kendall Fuller, which, for a normal team, should’ve sealed the game. However, in the most Washington way possible, they allowed Seattle to recover the ensuing onside kick. I know Thanksgiving was last Thursday, but Washington should’ve been thankful that the Seahawks lined up illegally, thus nullifying the recovery. Unsurprisingly, on the rekick, Seattle nearly fell on top of the ball again, but Adam Humphries was able to snare the football and seal Washington’s third straight win.
It was a weird game for both teams; injuries, turnovers and questionable refereeing made the game a lot closer than it should have been. On an extra point try late in the second quarter, Joey Slye’s kick got blocked. Not only did Seattle return the blocked kick for two points, but Slye also injured his hamstring on the chase down, knocking him out for the remainder of the game.
Here are three takeaways from Washington’s heart-racing MNF victory:
The run game was spectacular
Coming into the game, Washington knew that they needed to run the ball more often and more effectively against a struggling Seahawks defense, and that’s exactly what Washington did. On 43 attempts, Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic totaled over 150 rushing yards for the second straight week. The offense ran through Gibson all night; he carried the ball 29 times and was tied with Terry McLaurin for the most targets. He started off the night slow, with five of his first seven carries totaling under five yards. After this, however, Gibson got it going and broke off three straight runs of over five yards, including one for 17. When Gibson was on the sideline, JD McKissic stepped right up and didn’t miss a beat. He amassed just 30 yards on seven carries, and was responsible for both of Washington’s touchdowns, the first receiving and the second rushing. Gibson and McKissic have become one of the premier backfield duos in all of football with their dual-threat abilities. Unfortunately, McKissic had to be carted off the field late in the fourth quarter after suffering a neck injury. Heinicke said he saw McKissic walking around the locker room afterward celebrating with the team, so he should be all good to go for Week 13, where Washington will look to continue their dominance on the ground.
Great all-around defense
Apparently, the Seahawks replaced Russel Wilson with Davis Bertans on Monday night, because Russ couldn’t do anything. He constantly missed easy throws — just like Bertans constantly misses open threes — and aided one of Washington’s best defensive performances of the season. The only issue for the Football Team’s banged-up defense was a couple of instances of miscommunication, resulting in blown coverage. The Seahawks found the endzone twice, both caused by blown coverages by the Washington secondary. If not for the disappearance of the defense on those two plays, Washington had a solid chance at shutting out Seattle. In the closing minutes of the first quarter, Tyler Lockett found himself without a defender within 10 yards of him and picked up 55 yards on the play. Their other massive mistake came with just 20 seconds left to play. Freddie Swain somehow went uncovered down the middle of the field, walking in for a touchdown. Seattle needed the two-point conversion to tie the game, but Washington’s defense stepped up yet again. Although it won’t go down in the stat sheet, Fuller sealed the game after picking off Wilson on the two-point try.
The d-line also completely shut down Seattle’s run game, allowing just 18 yards on 10 carries from Alex Collins and DeeJay Dallas. Landon Collins continued his impressive play as a box safety; he even saved a Washington turnover by forcing one of his own on a beautiful punchout. Overall, Washington has to be ecstatic with the way their defense has performed the last three weeks. If they can keep up the great play, Washington is going to be a real threat moving forward.
Dominant possession time
For the first half of the season, Washington barely had the ball. Turnovers, punts and overall porous offense placed them in the bottom five in the league for possession time. After just three games off their bye, Washington is now top five in that same exact category. Against Tampa Bay, Washington had the ball for 39:08, 35:53 against Carolina and an astonishing 41:25 against Seattle. Like we talked about in our preview of Monday’s matchup, Washington needed to win the possession time battle to take down the Seahawks, and they successfully did that. A big part of Washington’s success at holding onto the ball can be attributed to the run game. We already talked about how dominant Gibson and McKissic were, but it doesn’t hurt to give them even more love. Running the ball has become Washington’s identity, and so has dominating the possession time battle.
Heading into the week, Washington was 4–0 in primetime games under Ron Rivera, an impressive feat for a team that has been historically bad under the lights. It didn’t come easy, but after squeaking out a victory, Washington is now 5–6 and currently holds the last wild card spot in the NFC playoffs. In Week 13, Washington travels to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders, who just defeated the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. After that — five straight divisional matchups to end the year for the WFT and a chance to make the playoffs for the second year in a row.