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The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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May 16, 2024

Week 9: Commanders show promise in hard-fought victory over Patriots

Vassili Prokopenko
The team had the second overall pick in the draft and needed to address their glaring need for a quarterback, along with the offensive line, cornerback and tight end.

After a crushing loss to the divisional rival Philadelphia Eagles on October 29th, many saw the Washington Commanders’ season as over, especially after trading away both former first-round edge rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young. Yet, in a hard-fought battle against the New England Patriots last Sunday, the Commanders turned things around to secure a pivotal win, proving they have not given up on the 2023 season. Here are three key takeaways from the Commanders’ season-saving triumph over the Patriots: 


Sam Howell’s Growing Consistency

Over the last few weeks, 23-year-old Sam Howell has recorded many impressive performances. Against the Patriots, Howell completed 29 of 45 passes for 325 yards while throwing for one touchdown and an interception, earning him a respectable QBR of 65.3. Howell showcased his ability to make clutch plays and convert on critical third-and-long situations throughout the game. He displayed poise in the pocket and an aptitude for connecting on deep passes. When New England had Commanders receivers covered, Howell scrambled for 24 yards on a third-and-23 play to keep the drive alive.

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New offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy has leaned heavily on the passing game this season, and Howell has proven capable of handling the workload. In his first ten starts in the league, he has surpassed 2,500 passing yards — the fastest Washington quarterback in history to reach this mark and a testament to his promising future.


Standout Defense in the Absence of Key Players

After losing defensive stalwarts Montez Sweat and Chase Young, many questioned how the Commanders’ defense would fare without its top pass rushers. The defense answered the call, holding the Patriots to 17 points. New England quarterback Mac Jones struggled to get anything going despite Washington’s now-diminished pass rush failing to register a single sack. The Commanders’ secondary played a pivotal role, defending nine passes and holding Jones to a miserable 29.4 QBR. 

Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste led the team with three passes defended, while rookie Emmanuel Forbes contributed two of his own and only allowed 20 yards on nine targets. Forbes’ performance was promising, given his struggles and limited playing time in previous games. Jartavius “Quan” Martin, Washington’s second-round pick this year, made the game-sealing interception in the final seconds. In a great day for Commanders’ rookies, this year’s fifth-round pick KJ Henry made a fantastic strip sack on Jones, unfortunately getting called back on an egregious roughing the passer penalty. These performances showcased the depth and potential of this revamped defense.


Resilience in the Face of Adversity

The Commanders displayed remarkable resilience in this game, refusing to back down even when the Patriots surged ahead with a 17–10 lead at the half. The defense rose to the challenge, letting up zero points in the last 25 minutes of the game. The offense made some mistakes but would not settle for a loss, scoring a quick ten points after falling behind and taking valuable time off the clock.

Washington’s ability to bounce back and secure a crucial victory underscores their commitment to the season despite previous poor performances and the departure of Sweat and Young. Despite organizational focus shifting toward the future, the Commanders remain a challenging opponent for teams with playoff aspirations and may still have a push of their own. This victory gets them back on track and lays the foundation for a more promising future, regardless of who leads the team.


Week 10 Preview

The Commanders’ hard-fought victory over the Patriots showcased the team’s progress and determination. Sam Howell’s growing consistency, the defense’s resilience and the team’s ability to regather and stay focused all give hope that the Commanders may finally turn things around. As the team moves forward, a challenge remains; Washington must maintain this level of performance and build upon it. 

With a renewed sense of purpose, Washington now sets its sights on the future, one game at a time. Next up: a crucial matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, where the Commanders could reach .500 for the first time since Week 6.

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About the Contributor
Vassili Prokopenko
Vassili Prokopenko, Online Production Head
Grade 12 Why did you join The B&W? To improve my art and design skills. What is your favorite board game? Blokus

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