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Washington Football Team Vs. Carolina Panthers - Studs and Duds

NFL: Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another win! Boy, this feels good!

Surprisingly, this was another complete victory for the Washington Football Team. Offense, defense and special teams all came together in Carolina for Ron Rivera’s home coming, spoiling the return for Cam Newton, who just came back to the NFL and the former team who drafted him, less than two weeks ago.

What we once thought was a lost season has taken a hard right turn, and the Football team is now just a few wins away from being able to control its own destiny.

Below you will see my Studs and Duds of the game, followed by some notes.


Studs:

Washington Offensive Line - This unit has been ravaged with injuries over the first 10 games, but the next-man-up mentality has shown through as of late.

On the afternoon, the unit paved the way for 190 yards on the ground, and allowed Heinicke good time in the pocket to find open guys downfield.

A special shout-out goes to veteran Wes Schweitzer, who took over at center when starter Tyler Larsen left with an injury. Schweitzer has been a rock this season when called upon to fill in for injured starters, and his play Sunday was stellar given the situation he came in to.

Terry McLaurin - McLaurin caught five passes for 103 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s win. His contested catch rate continues to be absolutely OUTSTANDING, winning jump balls, and showing his toughness and competitiveness.

It’s time to back up the Brinks truck for the captain!

Taylor Heinicke - Yesterday’s game was a perfect example of Taylor playing within himself and taking what the Panther’s defense gave him. He didn’t force balls into coverage, played very well within the pocket - stepping into his throws instead of throwing off his back foot, and showed off his wheels when running lanes opened up.

He was an incredibly efficient 16-22 for 203 yards and three touchdowns; and most importantly, he didn’t turn the football over.

Kam Curl - Washington’s strong safety came up big on defense Sunday. None was bigger than his fourth down stop of McCaffrey in the final minutes of the game. He led The Football Team with seven solo tackles (eight total), showed good coverage (many of this coming against McCaffrey), solid open-field tackling and keen awareness from his safety spot.

Daron Payne - Despite a dumb late hit that drew a personal foul, Payne was Washington’s most dominant defensive lineman Sunday. He was credited with four total tackles, half a sack, two quarterback hits and multiple pressures on the afternoon.

Scott Turner/Jack Del Rio - Both coordinators called excellent games in back-to-back weeks helping Washington secure two wins in a row since coming off a week nine bye.

Turner showed his willingness to stick to the run against Carolina - and it paid off in a major way accounting for 190 rushing yards. He’s also done a great job catering to the strengths of his quarterback.

Del Rio has his defense playing at an extremely high level coming off the team’s bye week, and it’s something fans had hoped to see from the jump week one.


Duds:

The Decision to Punt - This is a bit selfish of me, but I would have liked to see Ron give Joey Slye a chance at the long field goal instead of punting when we got into plus territory just inside the Panthers 40.

I know - I’m really reaching here...


Notes:

- A fumble in the Red Zone and being forced out of bounds when the game was hanging in the balance would normally land you on my Duds list, however Antonio Gibson showed toughness, determination and grit after his early fumble, churning out 95 yards on 19 carries - many of those coming in the second half when Washington began to press their foot on the throat of the Panthers.

I’m not saying the fumbling issues aren’t a concern - they indeed are; but Gibby came back into the game after his benching, and ran like a man possessed.

- Troy Apke has done pretty much nothing all season, but on Sunday, he made his presence known on kick return, by jumping on a fumble by Carter, which could have proved disastrous for Washington.

- Jonathan Allen may not have stuffed the stat sheet, but he keeps doing the little things that are making this defense click. Early in the second quarter, he peeled back from his pass rush and made a tackle on a screen a few yards downfield. It’s plays like this that may go unnoticed by some, but are instrumental to the success of this unit.

- Besides Mclaurin, no other wide receiver really stuffed the stat sheet, but guys like Humphries, Sims and Carter came up big when their numbers were called, including big first down catches to help keep the chains moving and solid routes in the end zone on respective touchdown receptions.

- Cole Holcomb struggled a bit in coverage Sunday, but he did make some plays when the game was on the line, including a stop of McCaffrey short of the first down marker on a third down attempt late in the game (the play before Curl’s fourth down stop).

- Landon Collins did lose Christian McCaffrey down the seam for a touchdown, but that was a great play call to one of the best athletes in the entire NFL. There was also some blame on Cole Holcomb for not getting deep enough on his drop to get underneath the route.

- Kendall Fuller has drastically improved his tackling as the season has progressed. That good tackling was on display Sunday against the Panthers.

- James Smith-Williams has played well in the absence of Chase Young and Montez Sweat. He’s not a flashy player, but he has good gap integrity, holds the point of attack and for the most part, is disciplined in his rush lanes.

- Joey Slye has not missed a kick since joining Washington. I know it’s just two games, but this is a big positive!

- Has anyone seen Matt Ioannidis lately??? I’ve been checking my milk cartons.