The Washington Football team improved to 5-6 after last night’s 17-15 win against the Seattle Seahawks, who now falls to 3-8. It was a tightly contested game if you only had a chance to follow the game strictly through a box score. The largest lead was just eight points. However, if you had a chance to watch the game, this was a matchup where Washington dominated the majority of the football game.
Starting with Washington’s defense, the unit held the Seahawks to 269 yards on the night, which is a continuance of an improved unit since coming out of the bye week. Washington’s defense has allowed 279 yards per game since Week 10, which is the fourth-fewest in the NFL. Washington had also held Seattle’s offense to ten first downs for the entire game, the fewest they have allowed since 2017 against the New York Giants. Further, at one point in the game, Washington had forced five straight three-and-outs. Make no mistake, though; this unit was helped out tremendously by Russell Wilson, who had a terrible game for all but four minutes of football. Nonetheless, head coach Ron Rivera is impressed and is appreciative of how far things have come since earlier in the year with this unit.
“Just the way they’ve played together and things have come together nicely. I think a big thing has been for the most part, the communication you see in the secondary. We did blow on one of the deep overs they had early in the game, unfortunately. We settled in and I think the guys really played a huge game.” - Rivera on the defense improving in the second half of the season.
While Jonathan Allen has had an impact all year, other players who had struggled for most of the season are starting to hit their stride at the most critical juncture for the team. Defensive backs Kendall Fuller and Landon Collins are making imprints during the three-game win streak.
“I’m still not thrilled about it but regardless of wherever they put me at on the field I’m going to try to make the best out of the opportunity. Make plays as much as possible and if they call on my name I’m going to do so. I’m a team player so as long we’re winning and I’m helping the team win, I’m good with that.” - Collins on his position switch in the defensive scheme.
Collins’s turnaround is paramount for the team and himself. As a player whose contract had become a significant detriment to his future in Washington, his performance improvement can only help create more opportunities after the season is over, whether those opportunities are through trade or free agency.
Offensively, Taylor Heinicke continues to cement himself as an NFL quarterback. Heinicke completed 27-of-35 passes for 223 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and a 90.5 passer rating. He has a 77.5 completion percentage since Week 10, which is the third-highest in the NFL. He also has a 112.8 passer rating since Week 10, which is the third-highest in the NFL. In addition, Heinicke has seemingly identified the proper way to play within offensive coordinator Scott Turner’s scheme, as both individuals are entirely in-sync right now.
“It feels great. Going into the bye week having four losses in a row and coming back and winning three in a row, it feels great. The confidence in there is awesome and it really starts with those guys up front – offensive line. They don’t get a lot of credit. These last three weeks, they have been phenomenal not just running the ball but protecting me as well. I wanted to give them a shoutout for sure.” - Heinicke on winning three games in a row.
Heinicke is forcing himself into the conversation as starting quarterback material, and I’m not mad at that. However, this conversation should be held and evaluated after each game is played, and so far after the bye week, there are currently very few negative things about Heinicke.
It appears that all units and their coaches are playing and coaching at their best ability right now, which makes for a dangerous team to play down the line. However, with five divisional games to close the year following the upcoming Las Vegas Raiders matchup, it becomes a conversation about a wild card spot and taking the number one spot in the NFC East and a potential home playoff game.
What does 3-straight Ws mean for #WashingtonFootball ? A lot. From a culture & player morale standpoint, this is major. @AJ_ThompsonJr @DCSportsDre & I covered Rivera’s pressers all season & it seems as if his optimistic POV is finally showing itself w/production and wins. pic.twitter.com/PNSjqlDnkf— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) November 30, 2021
“Well, we’re not out of it completely, you know. Unfortunately, it was about learning and growing and it was all part of the process that we’ve had to go through to develop as a team. It really wasn’t going to happen overnight. I know last year and a lot of people I’ve talked about early and I got people got upset with me, but that’s ball. I mean, it’s just the way it is. That’s the truth of the matter. Just being honest. I think we’re coming together and being the kind of team that we envisioned. If we can continue to work and play the way we’ve played, we’d give ourselves a chance. That’s all we need is a chance.” - Rivera on digging out of the hole from the beginning of the season.
What does Rivera credit the turnaround to? Well, the answer is not as complex as you may believe it to be. It’s simply the fact that they are working hard.
“I think it’s just when you work hard and the guys do the things that we ask in and it starts to come, then you see it because of that. Because of what we’d done. I don’t think there’s a real magic formula as much as it’s just about working hard. If you watch the way they practice, I know you guys can’t, but it’s impressive. It really is. When we’ve had the production crews that come in and they watch practice, they watched the Friday practice like wow. That’s what I learned from [Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach] Andy Reid. Friday is an important day and we got to practice the right way and the guys do that and we’ve done it all year. Now, I think we’re starting to see it come together.”- Rivera on what he credits the turnaround to.
The Washington Football Team has risen from the dead, and credit to Rivera as his optimism and faith in his players have finally come to fruition. It’s go time, y’all.