Washington dominated the first half of its first game as the Commanders behind the team’s new starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who completed 75% of his passes for 2 TDs and no interceptions to take a 14-3 lead at the half.
The second half was a different story, as Wentz threw interceptions on back to back drives to open the 4th quarter, allowing Jacksonville to take a 22-14 lead following the second pick.
Good teams find a way to win, and the Commanders scored a touchdown on a 49-yard bomb to Terry McLaurin to bring the score to 22-20, then forced a punt by the Jaguars. Carson Wentz put together a 13-play, 96-yard drive to take the lead on a 24-yard pass to Jahan Dotson on 3rd & 8, with the rookie receiver making a great catch while being tightly covered.
With a 2-point conversion, Washington took a 6-point lead. In trying to lead the Jags to a game winning touchdown, Trevor Lawrence made a terrible decision and launched a ball downfield on 3rd down that ended up being intercepted by backup safety Darrick Forrest, who was playing in place of injured starter Kam Curl.
Forrest had a great day, forcing a fumble, breaking up a 2-point conversion attempt and getting the pick that ended Jacksonville’s final drive. Forrest was called for unnecessary roughness for helmet-to-helmet contact on a tackle, but the replay showed it to be an iffy call.
The Commanders needed to get a first down on their final possession to seal the win, which they did when Carson Wentz managed to get the defense to jump offsides with a hard count on 3rd & 3.
With the Eagles also winning in the early time slot, Washington and Philadelphia are, for the moment, tied for the lead in the NFC East, with the Giants trailing the Titans, and the Cowboys hosting the Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football.
Lots of players distinguished themselves during the victory.
- Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen were each credited with a sack, and Payne batted down two passes.
- Antonio Gibson had 130 yards from scrimmage, and was the leading receiver, on 14 carries and 7 receptions.
- Curtis Samuel added 72 yards and a TD on 4 runs and 8 pass receptions, though he did lose a fumble near midfield that changed the game’s momentum in the middle of the 2nd quarter.
- Rookie Jahan Dotson caught 3 passes — two of them were touchdowns.
- McLaurin led the wide receivers in yards with 58, and he scored on the long TD.
- TEs Logan Thomas and Armani Rogers combined for 68 receiving yards on 4 receptions.
- Despite the two interceptions (both of which were bad decisions), Carson Wentz finished with a winning effort: 27/41, 313 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, and sacked once for 8 yards.
Jacksonville had the worst record in the NFL in 2021, but it’s always nice to start with a win.
Next up is the Detroit Lions, who managed to score 35 points (including 14 unanswered 4th quarter points) against the Eagles.
It should be a fun week of celebration and analysis.