Coming off a short week and looking to rebound following a loss on Monday Night Football, the Redskins returned to action looking to turn the tide. In front of a more lively FedEx Field crowd than we’ve seen all season Washington defeated to the Carolina Panthers 23-17. With the loss, Washington improved to 3-2, maintaining a half-game lead atop the NFC East while the Panthers fell to 3-2.
The Redskins came into the contest severely limited on offense due to injuries with Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson both on the shelf. Shawn Lauvao was also on the sidelines for his third straight game. The Panthers saw the return of tight end Greg Olsen who recorded 48 yards on 4 receptions in his season debut.
Both teams traded punts to begin the contest but the Redskins extended their first drive as Jeremy Sprinkle recovering a fumbled punt by D.J. Moore, and the Washington cashed in just on play later on a 22-yard pitch and catch from Alex Smith to a wide open Vernon Davis for the first score of the game.
Washington extended their lead on their following offensive drive which spanned 64 yards over 12 plays and was capped off with a two yard catch by Paul Richardson in the back of the end zone to give Washington a 14-0 advantage which held through the end of the first quarter.
On the first drive of the second quarter, Josh Norman plucked a gift-wrapped air-mailed pass Netwon, his former teammate, out of the air for his first interception in his last 20 games, ending a pick-less streak that spanned back to 2016.
The Redskins forced their third turnover of the game on another Moore fumble on the ensuing drive as he tried to extend a run but was dislodged from the football by Norman, and the drive resulted in a 49-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins to make it 17-0.
The Panthers found the end zone for the first time in the game as Devin Funchess made an athletic play with a 23-yard jump ball grab over top of Quinton Dunbar to complete a seven-play 75-yard drive. Graham Gano, feeling very much at home at FedEx Field found his former Redskins-self and missed the PAT, to keep the score 17-6 which is where it would remain through the end of the half.
Funchess TD - Sluggo route (slant-and-go) gets Dunbar to bite. Dunbar nearly recovers thanks to underthrown ball, but Funchess makes an outstanding catch. Funchess has had Dunbar's number 3 or 4 times already today. pic.twitter.com/2LWNKmAFZc— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) October 14, 2018
Through one half of play, statistically the two teams were fairly even. Washington had just four more total yards, 169 to 165, and both the Redskins and Panthers had nine first downs apiece. However the three turnovers loomed large, as they resulted in ten Washington points.
The Redskins once again came out flat in he third quarter, picking up only two first downs on their first drive, before turning the ball over on downs after a failed 4th down attempt. The Redskins also burned a timeout on the final play of the drive. The Panthers responded and drove down to the Redskins 14 and were forced to kick a field goal. Washington continued their streak of not scoring in the third quarter that continues to date to last season.
On Washington’s first drive of the fourth quarter, they picked up a 56-yard field goal from Dustin Hopkins. After a three-yard touchdown from Torrey Smith that capped off a nine-play, 75-yard drive, the Hopkins booted another field goal to extend the lead to 23-17.
The defense stood up strong and stopped the Panthers from mounting a comeback on the final drive of the contest, closing out the game on a fourth down pass attempt that fell incomplete in Redskins territory, securing the victory for Washington.
Alex Smith bounced back following his disappointing performance against the Saints and went 21 of 36 for 163 yards, 2 touchdown and no interceptions.
Vernon Davis was the leading receiver, tallying 3 catches for 48 yards and 1 TD, while Jordan Reed recorded 36 yards on 5 catches.
Washington’s leading rusher was Adrian Peterson, who racked up 97 yards on 17 carries for 5.7 yards per carry. Peterson battled through a dislocated shoulder suffered on Monday night to get the start. Kapri Bibbs filled in for the injured Thompson and chipped in with 2 rushes for 11 yards.
On defense, the Redskins were led by Josh Norman who recorded 4 tackles, 1 INT, and a forced fumble.
For the Panthers, Cam Newton had an inconsistent first half and finished the day with 27 completions on 40 attempts for 275 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. With the loss, Newton’s perfect record against Washington came to a close. The loss was his first in in five tries against the Redskins.
The league’s best rushing offense totaled 81 just yards on 18 carries, an average of 4.5 per rush with Newton leading the way with 43 yards on 9 rushes.
After a disappointing start to the week, Washington showed up large today and can feel a measure of confidence as they head into Dallas week next Sunday.