All good things must come to an end.
For four straight weeks, we got to write about the Washington Football Team’s gutsy and heartfelt wins. Unfortunately, that streak has finally come to an end; today, we must write about Washington’s 27–20 blowout-turned-almost-miraculous-comeback-victory loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon.
It’s said week after week, but it’s not a WFT game without an ending that makes fans question their sanity. On Sunday, the entire first half spelled doom for Washington, as they couldn’t get anything going on offense and were struggling to contain the Cowboys on defense. However, a miraculous leaping catch from Cams Sims gave Washington new life and made it a two-score game. After a few punts and a Dallas field goal, Jonathan Williams punched the ball into the end zone from one yard out, making it a 27–14 ballgame. It was at this point in the game where the chaos started: Cole Holcomb intercepted Dak Prescott and returned it 30 yards to the house, suddenly making it a one possession game and sending FedEx Field into a frenzy. Unsurprisingly, the extra point was blocked — WFT fans likely got Chris Blewitt flashbacks for a moment — but Washington was still only down by seven points. The defense came up clutch, getting off the field and giving the ball back to the offense with three minutes left in the game. At this point, Kyle Allen was in the game for an injured Taylor Heinicke. Despite Allen dropping a dime into the arms of Deandre Carter, Carter was unable to corral the pass. On the following play, Allen tried to throw the ball away as he was being sacked, but it was ruled a fumble, giving the ball back to Dallas and evidently ending the game.
So much for the comeback.
Here are three takeaways from Washington’s subpar performance:
The injuries won’t stop
Any coach that has ever coached a high-level sport will tell you that injuries cannot be used as an excuse and that you have to persevere as a group. However, at some point, you have to acknowledge how much health issues are impacting your performance. Obviously, injuries weren’t the only reason Washington couldn’t beat Dallas on Sunday, but it’s unfair to say that they didn’t play a major role in Washington’s struggles. The injury bug has been biting Washington all year long, and just when the team was starting to get healthy, the bug struck again. Logan Thomas finally returned in Week 12 against Seattle after missing eight contests, but after just one full game, Thomas suffered a season-ending knee injury. Washington currently has 16 players on the injured reserve list and has had 54 starts missed because of injury. Sunday’s contest against the Cowboys literally added insult to injury in multiple ways. Terry McLaurin was held silent by Trevon Diggs during the first half, until McLaurin almost made the catch of the day early in the third quarter. Unfortunately, not only did McLaurin not catch the pass, he went down hard, landing awkwardly and remaining on the ground for a few minutes before gingerly walking off the field. He was placed in the concussion protocol, knocking him out of the rest of the game and possibly next week against Philadelphia. On top of McLaurin’s injury, Taylor Heinicke suffered a knee injury, forcing Kyle Allen to come in for the final 12:30 of the game. Luckily, it seems as if Heinicke should be good to go for Week 14.
The defense did all they could
Looking at the box score, it may seem like Washington had a poor all-around performance on Sunday. While the offense was stagnant, the defense played much better than people may have thought. Although Dallas was up 24–0 halfway through the third quarter, the blame cannot be placed solely on the defense. An exceptional interception from Randy Gregory gave Dallas great field position, and Dorance Armstrong Jr. returned a fumble for a touchdown on the ensuing Washington drive. Playing with two third-string defensive linemen, Washington still generated plenty of pressure in Dak Prescott’s face. Jonathan Allen continued his pro-bowl level season, upping his sack total to 7.5. Daron Payne tallied another, and Landon Collins accounted for two of his own. The secondary also put up another quality performance, limiting Prescott to just 211 yards and only one touchdown. Collins also picked up his first interception of the year, as did Holcomb, who got Washington within one possession late in the fourth quarter. Although they didn’t get the result they wanted, the banged up defense has to be happy with their showing on Sunday.
Micah Parsons is DPOY
We don’t usually compliment opposing players in these columns, but Micah Parsons is well deserving of prasieafter this week; We said it in the preview for Sunday’s matchup, and we are going to say it again: Micah Parsons is absurd. The rookie came into the week with incredible stats and left with numbers that leave fans speechless. Since Week 9, Parsons leads the league in sacks (9.5), QB hits (16), TFLs (10) and forced fumbles (3). On Sunday alone, Parsons had two sacks, one TFL, two QB hits, one forced fumble and came close to picking off two passes. Don’t forget, he has been racking up all these stats as an edge rusher when he was drafted as a linebacker. He still drops back into coverage every so often, but Dallas has no reason to take him off the line with the jaw-dropping numbers he is producing. At this point, Parsons is pretty much the runaway for Defensive Rookie of the Year (-1200 on Barstool Sportsbook) and is making a big push for outright Defensive Player of the Year (+400 on Barstool Sportsbook). Unfortunately for Washington, they have to face him again in just two weeks, and at that point, Parsons might have already broken the all-time rookie sack record of 14.5 set by Jevon Kearse in 1999.
While it wasn’t the result fans and players were hoping for, Washington still put up a great fight to the very end and showed why they are a true playoff team. They will look to get back on track next Sunday in Philadelphia, where they will take on the fellow 6–7 Eagles in another important divisional matchup. Whichever team comes out victorious will have a big edge in the battle for the final three wild card spots in the NFC.