The Commanders have established an identity as the disruptive upstart that no one wants to play. They kept that streak alive by playing for a tie against the Giants, to completely mess with everyone’s playoff projections.
This game featured Taylor Heinicke’s second fourth-quarter comeback this season and the sixth of his career in Washington. The fourth-quarter drive to pull even with 1:45 remaining featured several clutch completions by the much-maligned backup QB, including a 20-yard strike to Curtis Samuel on 4th and 4, a deep shot to Samuel for 20 yards and a 28-yard touchdown pass to Jahan Dotson, featuring one of the best spin moves to break a tackle ever by a Washington rookie WR.
The team itself was not quite as clutch as Heinicke on his scoring drive, only converting 3-14 on third downs. Of course, Washington’s missed opportunities on 3rd downs were mostly on Heinicke, including 5 incompletions, 3 completions short of the sticks, a sack and a sack/fumble. So Heinicke was both clutch and not clutch in this game.
He got plenty of help on his not-clutch plays from the offensive line, as he absorbed 10 QB hits and took 5 sacks (Tied for 2nd most in the NFL), including one when Kayvon Thibodeaux was allowed to go completely unblocked. He was pressured on a whopping 36.2% of dropbacks.
The Commanders rushed for 165 yards against the Giants, their third-highest total of the season. Of course, all game total statistics are inflated by an extra quarter of playing time. Nevertheless, this was the first time they have failed to win in 5 games when they rushed for over 150 yards. On the other hand, they have not lost a game when they rushed for over 150 yards.
This was also the first time the Commanders failed to win when Brian Robinson had 15 or more carries. Or, if you are a glass half full type of fan, the Commanders have still never lost when Brian Robinson has 15 or more carries.
The defense, led by Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, was highly disruptive up front, recording 4 sacks and 8 tackles for loss. The Commanders led the league with 7 tackles for loss. 6 different defenders got in on the action, which was also a league high.
The Commanders once again dominated time of possession holding the ball for 41:11 to the Giants 28:49. The Commanders have won the time of possession battle 11 times this season. Contrary to prevailing opinion in a certain segment of the fan base, it doesn’t seem to make the slightest bit of difference. They are 5-5-1 when they win time of possession and 1-1 when they lose it.
SNAP COUNTS - OFFENSE
A week after having his second-lowest passing total against the Falcons, Taylor Heinicke bounced back with this second-highest passing total (275 yds) and his second-highest completion percentage (65.8%) against the Giants. He threw 2 TDs and no INTs, but did lose a fumble on a strip sack. He had a fairly decent passer rating of 101.2. QBR, which takes into account down, distance and game situation was less kind to Heinicke, ranking him 25th in the league with a QBR of 27.8. Still he had a higher QBR this week than Tua Tagovailoa (19.2) and Justin Herbert (15.2). Fortunately, Heinicke does not cost very much. He was the 12th best value by cap-adjusted QBVR® in Week 13.
Rookie running back Brian Robinson had another big day, with 96 yards on 21 attempts and a long of 16. He added 2 receptions on 2 targets for 15 yards. Antonio Gibson added 39 yards on 9 attempts and 2 receptions for 20 yards. Williams had 1 rush for 1 yard.
Terry McLaurin had his fourth game over 100 yds with 8 receptions for 105 yards and 1 TD on 12 targets. At an average of 72.7 yards per game, he is currently on pace to hit 1,236 yards this season, which would make him the first Washington WR over 1,200 yards since Pierre Garcon in 2013. Of course, they only played 16 games back then. The last WR drafted by Washington to break 1,200 yards in a season was Art Monk in 1984. McLaurin is over 10 yards per game behind both Garcon in 2013 (84.1 ypg) and Monk in 1984 (85.8 ypg).
Lest we chalk that up the QBs throwing to McLaurin, Garcon and Monk, at 206.3 yards per game, Taylor Heinicke is not far behind Joe Theismann’s 1984 average (211.9 ypg), and Carson Wentz (248.2 ypg) has thrown for slightly more than RG3 in 2013 (246.4 ypg). Both Commanders QBs have well surpassed Kirk Cousins’ three starts in 2013, averaging only 170.8 ypg.
Only the starters caught passes for positive yardage this week. Curtis Samuel had 6 receptions on 7 targets for 63 yards. He also had 3 rushes for 23 yards and a long of 21. Jahan Dotson had 5 receptions on 9 targets for 54 yards and one of the best touchdown receptions of the season. He is currently averaging close to one TD every four receptions.
Last of all, Cam Sims had 1 reception for -2 yards. Dyami Brown was not targeted.
The tight ends were very quiet in New York. Logan Thomas led the unit with 3 receptions for 20 yards and that was pretty much it.
OTs Charles Leno and Cornelius Lucas and LG Andrew Norwell played 100% of offensive snaps. C Tyler Larsen left the game with a dislocated kneecap and was replaced by Nick Martin. Wes Schweitzer subbed in for Sam Cosmi who left the game with an ankle injury.
DEFENSE – SNAP COUNTS
Jonathan Allen played a career high 98% of defensive snaps. Daron Payne also had a high snap count at 89%. The best DT tandem in the league disrupted the Giants’ offensive front all afternoon. Allen was third on the team with 8 combined tackles and 1 sack and 1 TFL. Payne added 4 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 pressures. Montez Sweat had a fairly quiet afternoon with just 1 TFL and no sacks or pressures. Efe Obada, John Ridgeway and Casey Toohill had one QB pressure apiece.
The Commanders are running thin at LB, with Cole Holcomb out for the season following foot surgery. Jamin Davis played every snap and had 10 tackles, 1 TFL, recovered a fumble and was credited with 0 missed tackles. He was targeted 5 times in coverage and allowed 5 receptions for 21 yards. Bostic had 5 tackles and was not targeted in coverage.
Kendall Fuller was targeted 3 times in coverage and allowed 3 receptions for only 15 yards. The star of the CB group was Danny Johnson, who was subbed in to replace Christian Holmes, who was having a bad day. Johnson registered 6 tackles, a sack, a TFL, a QB hit and defended two passes. In coverage, he allowed 6 completions on 8 targets for 46 yards, resulting in a solid opposing passer rating of 88.5. Holmes was terrible in coverage. He was targeted 4 times and allowed 4 receptions for 73 yards and a TD, resulting in a perfect opposing passer rating of 158.3.
Kam Curl led the team with 12 combined tackles. He allowed three receptions in coverage for 30 yards. Darrick Forrest had 5 tackles and allowed 1 completion for 4 yards on 2 targets. Bobby McCain had 5 combined tackles and a TFL. He allowed 3 receptions on 3 targets but only conceded 11 yards. Percy Butler had 2 tackles and was not targeted in coverage.
Antonio Gibson only returned two kicks for 27 yards, with a long of 24. Alex Erickson had punt returns for 26 yards. Joey Slye was 2/3 on field goals and 2/2 on extra points. Tress Way had 6 punts for 265 yards and landed 4 inside the 20.
Acknowledgement: Edited by James Dorsett
Who was Washington’s Week 13 MVP?
This poll is closed
No such thing in a tie ballgame
Late entry: Terry McLaurin