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Stats & Snaps: Week 11 Washington Commanders vs. New York Giants

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

New York Giants v Washington Commanders Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Sunday’s matchup against the Giants was a must win game for Ron Rivera and the Commanders. Rivera is in his fourth year as Head Coach and head of football operations without a single winning season, and will probably need to win a playoff game to keep his job. The Commanders came into the game at 4-6, with 4 of their remaining 7 games against playoff contenders. To keep their playoff hopes alive they would likely need to beat the three teams with sub-0.500 records, and 2 teams with winning records. They have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season, and have only done so 6 times in Rivera’s tenure.

The second meeting with the Giants also had the makings of a can’t lose game. Heading into the Week 11 matchup, the Giants had lost starting QB Daniel Jones and backup QB Tyrod Taylor to injury, leaving rookie UDFA Tommy DeVito to run the offense. Their offensive line had struggled with pass protection all season, letting DeVito take 11 sacks in his two previous outings. In his two previous games, the Giants scored a total of 16 points, while giving up 43 points. Through Week 10, their offense ranked last in the NFL in points scored (118) in yards per play (4.0), 29th in total yardage gained (2,480). Their defense had allowed the 2nd most points (266) allowed and the 3rd most total yardage (3,685) and yards per play (5.9). The Giants were the weakest opponent on the Commanders’ remaining schedule and arguably the weakest team in the NFL.

Yet somehow Ron Rivera’s Commanders failed to win the unlosable game. Let’s see how they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

SOME STATISTICS

A quick glance at the stat sheet might suggest that the Commanders rose to the occasion. The Commanders outgained the Giants in total net yards 403 to 292. They gained 28 first downs to the Giants’ 13. They enjoyed large advantages in time of possession (34:51 vs 25:09) and number of offensive plays (77 vs 54). They outgained the Giants in both passing (229 vs 201 net yds) and rushing (174 vs 91 net yds). They even committed fewer penalties than the Giants (1 vs 5) for fewer yards (5 vs 33) yds.

Perhaps most impressively, the Commanders sacked Giants’ QB Tommy DeVito 9 times for 45 yards, while only allowing Sam Howell to take 4 sacks for 26 yards. Generally speaking, teams that sack the opposing QB 9 or more times tend to win in convincing fashion. Since 1952, 160 games have featured a team making 9 or more sacks. The teams making all the sacks have only lost 11/160 games (6.875%). Sunday’s effort places the Commanders in elite company.

Yet somehow, despite having a statistically dominant performance in most categories, the Commanders didn’t win. There are two main ways for teams to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as the Commanders did: giving up big plays and turnovers. Let’s see how they did it.

The Commanders’ defense gave up 7 passing plays of 16 or more yards for a total of 172 yards and 2 touchdowns, accounting for 85.6% of the Giants’ total passing yardage. The defense also conceded 2 runs of 31 and 36 yards, representing 73.6% of their opponents’ rushing total. On offense, Washington only countered with 3 explosive passing plays of their own for 68 yards and no scores. They had four explosive rushing plays for a total of 77 yards.

While failure to contain big plays was a significant factor in the Commanders’ loss, what really tipped the game in the Giants’ favor was turnovers. The Commanders gave away 6 turnovers, while making 0 takeaways. 24 of the Giants’ 31 points (77.4%) followed directly from Washington turnovers.

It is pretty hard to overcome a turnover differential of +6. In NFL history, there have been 236 games with turnover differentials of 6 or more. In only 5/236 cases (2.1%) did the team that lost the turnover battle win the game, and only 1 game ended in a tie (0.4%). In 172/236 cases (72.9%), the team that won the turnover battle won the game by 12 or more points, as was the case on Sunday.

All of the Commanders’ hard work in to gain advantages in yardage, time of possession and QB sacks was undone by giving up 9 explosive plays and 6 turnovers.


New York Giants v Washington Commanders Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

BIGGEST PLAYS OF THE GAME

These plays had the biggest impact on the Commanders’ probability of scoring or being scored upon, as quantified by Expected Points Added (EPA). Criterion: EPA > +/-2.5; Positive EPA favors Washington.

Q1

14:05, 3rd and 10 at NYG 25, Tommy DeVito pass deep right to Saquon Barkley for 21 yards, EPA -2.61

7:49, 1st and 10 at WAS 47, Sam Howell pass complete short right to Logan Thomas for 5 yards, Cordale Flott forced fumble recovered by Xavier McKinney at NYG 48 and returned 7 yards, EPA -4.65

7:05, 3rd and 13 at WAS 48, Tommy DeVito pass complete deep middle to Darius Slayton for 24 yards, EPA -3.01

3:51, 1st and 10 at NYG 34, Sam Howell pass deep left to Logan Thomas for 29 yards, EPA 2.75

6:35, 1st and 10 at WAS 24, Tommy DeVito complete deep right to Saquon Barkley for 24 yards, EPA -3.03

Q2

6:06, 3rd and 1 at WAS 40, Tommy DeVito pass deep left to Darius Slayton for 40 yard touchdown, EPA -4.72

Q3

15:00, Randy Bullock kickoff 68 yards, returned by Byron Pringle for 37 yards, fumble forced by Nick McCloud, recovered by Gervarrius Owens at WAS 34, EPA -3.31

0.53, 1st and 10 at NYG 35, Chris Rodriguez up the middle for 3 yards, fumble forced by Bobby Okereke, recovered by Micah McFadden at NYG 32, EPA -4.32

Q4

13:37, 3rd and 5 at WAS 5, Tommy DeVito pass short right to Saquon Barkley for 5 yard touchdown, EPA -2.74

4:13, 4th and 10 at WAS 40, Sam Howell pass complete short right to Brian Robinson for 21 yards, EPA 3.70

0:29, 1st and 15 at NYG 48, Sam Howell pass short right intended for Logan Thomas is intercepted by Isaiah Simmons at NYG 46 and returned 54 yards for a touchdown, EPA -9.39 ***BIGGEST NEGATIVE PLAY OF THE SEASON***


STATS AND SNAPS – OFFENSE

Quarterback

Sam Howell completed 31 of 45 passes (68.9%) for 255 yards with 1 TD and 3 INT, while taking 4 sacks for 26 yards. He also ran 3 times for 35 yards (11.7 Y/A) and 1 bone crushing TD. His 62.7 passer rating was his second lowest of the season, after hitting 60.5 against Buffalo, and his average yardage per passing attempt (5.67 yds) was the lowest of his career to date. The interception total is the second highest of his career, after the Buffalo game.

ESPN’s total QBR was kinder to Howell’s performance than more traditional metrics, ranking him 8th among NFL starting QBs in Week 11. His weekly QBR of 59.0 was actually the 4th highest of his 12 professional starts.

According to Pro Football Focus, Howell had an average time to throw of 2.87 sec, 0.06 higher than his season average. He was pressured 17 times (34% of dropbacks), which was the lowest number of pressures he has faced since the season low 11 pressures in Atlanta. Howell had 2 passes dropped for a drop rate of 6.1%.

Howell did not break any tackles this week, but he made it hurt on his rushing touchdown.

To put Howell’s performance into perspective, I compared it to the 12th starts of three of the great QBs of the modern era, as well as those of the 5 current leaders as ranked by Total QBR.

In his 12th start, Howell had a higher completion rate than everyone but Purdy, Mahomes and Herbert. He threw for more yardage than Brady, Brees, Prescott, Herbert and Allen. He threw more touchdowns than Brady and Brees, and tied with Purdy, Prescott and Allen, while taking fewer sacks than Brady. The one blemish on his otherwise strong performance was the three interceptions. Even there, he was not the worst. Both Patrick Mahomes (3 INT, 2 lost fumbles) and Josh Allen (2 INT, 2 lost fumbles) committed more turnovers than Howell in their 12th professional starts.

Overall, Howell’s stat line in his 12th start was strikingly similar to Josh Allen’s, with one few turnover and 3 more sacks. If Allen is the comp, Commanders’ fans can take something positive from an otherwise disappointing season.

OL

Pass Protection

The Commanders’ offensive line continued to give up pressures and sacks at a prodigious rate against the Giants. Pro Football Focus attributed 3/4 of Howell’s sacks to the OL. The pressures allowed were distributed as follows:

  • Chris Paul: 3 hurries, 1 sack
  • Charles Leno: 3 hurries, 1 sack
  • Tyler Larsen: 2 hurries, 1 sack
  • Andrew Wylie: 1 QB hit
  • Sam Cosmi: 0 pressures

Since joining the starting lineup in Week 8, Tyler Larsen has allowed an average of 4 total pressures and 0.5 sacks per game. Chris Paul has averaged 3 total pressures per game and 0.5 sacks. As for the players they replaced, Nick Gates had averaged 2.7 total pressures and 0.7 sacks per game; while Saahdiq Charles had averaged 3.0 total pressures and 0.4 sacks per game.

Run Blocking

At the time of this writing, Pro Football Reference does not appear to have updated its yards before contact stats, so I am forced to rely on PFF run blocking grades. According to PFF’s analysts, Sam Cosmi was the Commanders’ best run blocker, with a grade of 82.2. Andrew Wylie was second among OL, and third on the team after WR Byron Pringle, with a grade of 75.3. Charles Leno was the next OL at 66.1. Tyler Larsen was 16th on the team, out of 17 graded players with a piss poor grade of 55.6 and Chris Paul was dead last with an unsatisfactory grade of 46.1.

Penalties

Charles Leno continued his trend of being the only penalized offensive lineman, drawing 1 false start penalty for 5 yards.

Running Backs

The Commanders running backs had 25 carries for 139 yards for an overall average of 5.56 yards per carry.

Brian Robinson had 17 rushing attempts for 73 yds (4.29 yd/att) and caught 7/9 targets (77.8%) for 58 yards with 1 dropped pass. He tied with Logan Thomas for most receiving yards on the team.

Chris Rodriguez had 6 rushing attempts for 43 yards (7.2 yd/att) and caught his only passing target for 5 yards. He also lost 1 fumble.

Derrick Gore had 2 rushes for 23 yards.

Wide Receivers

Just in case you were wondering, the term “starter” is kind of meaningless. Byron Pringle was designated as one of 3 starting WRs, but only got about 1/3 as much playing time as Jahan Dotson, who wasn’t.

Terry McLaurin led the WR group in receiving yards, but only had the 3rd most receiving yards on the team. He caught 5/7 targets (7.14%) for 43 yards.

Jahan Dotson caught 3/4 targets for 23 yards and a touchdown.

Byron Pringle caught 3/3 targets for 22 yards. Jamison Crowder caught 2/2 targets for 12 yards. Dyami Brown caught 1/3 targets for 7 yards and dropped 1. Curtis Samuel caught 1/2 for 5 yards before being ejected.

Ejection but no penalty

Curtis Samuel was ejected for brawling with Giants’ CB Cor’Dale Flott after he and Charles Leno rushed to aid Sam Howell following a late hit out of bounds by Xavier McKinney. Samuel was ejected from the game but did not draw a penalty. Samuel has only drawn 1 accepted penalty with Washington, a 10 yard offensive pass interference call in the 2022 Falcons game.

Tight Ends

Logan Thomas tied with Brian Robinson for the team lead in receiving yards. He caught 5/8 passes for 58 yards. He also did his part to contribute to the team’s 6 turnovers by losing a fumble.

John Bates caught 2/2 passes for 15 yards and 1 1st down.


STATS AND SNAPS - DEFENSE

Defensive Line

DEs

Casey Toohill got the most playing time of the DEs, but rookie K.J. Henry had the most production. Henry had 2 solo tackles, 2 assists, 1 tackle for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 hurries and 2 passes broken up. There has been some grumbling about trading Chase Young, after he collected his first full sack for San Francisco. K.J. Henry was more productive than Young on Sunday.

For the second week in a row Casey Toohill continued to write his stat line in binary. He had 1 solo tackle, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 sack. It ruins the story, but he also had 2 QB hurries.

Jones was designated the starter, but did not record a defensive stat according to Pro Football Reference. Pro Football Focus credits him with 1 QB hurry.

Efe Obada suffered a bad leg fracture on his first defensive play and was lost for the remainder of the season.

DTs

After a few relatively slow weeks, Jonathan Allen made some noise with 3 solo tackles and 1 assist, 2 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and 1 QB hurry.

Daron Payne had 1 solo tackle and 2 assists, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack and 1 QB hurry.

Phidarian Mathis had 1 solo tackle and 1 assist.

John Ridgeway had 2 tackle assists and 2 QB hurries.

Linebackers

Jamin Davis led the Commanders in tackling with 5 solo tackles and 2 assists, 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack. In 30 coverage snaps, he was targeted twice and allowed 2 receptions for 31 yards and 1 TD for a perfect opposing passer rating of 158.3.

David Mayo had a career day in Washington with 5 solo tackles and 1 assist, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 QB hurry and 2 missed tackles. In 16 coverage snaps, he was targeted once with 0 receptions.

Khaleke Hudson played just 6 defensive snaps and did not record any stats.

Cornerbacks

Coverage Alignments

Kendall Fuller played 50/55 snaps at boundary corner, with 3 in the slot and 2 in the box. With Emmanuel Forbes back, Benjamin St-Juste moved back to the slot for 44/55 snaps. He played 7 in the box and 4 at boundary CB. Emmanuel Forbes played boundary corner on 39/43 defensive snaps, with 4 in the slot. Danny Johnson played all 5 snaps at boundary corner.

Coverage Performance

Kendall Fuller had 1 solo tackle and 1 tackle for loss with 1 missed tackle. In 37 coverage snaps, he was targeted 6 times allowing just 2 receptions (33.3% catch rate) for 45 yards and 1 TD, for an opposing passer rating of 100.7.

Benjamin St-Juste had 1 sack, 1 assisted tackle and 1 missed tackle. In 36 coverage snaps he was targeted 4 times, allowing 4 receptions (100% catch rate) for 58 yards.

Emmanuel Forbes made 4 solo tackles and 1 QB hurry blitzing. In 31 coverage snaps, he was targeted 5 times and allowed 3 receptions (60% catch rate) for 60 yards with 2 pass breakups and an opposing passer rating of 78.8.

Danny Johnson made 2 solo tackles. In 3 coverage snaps, he was targeted twice, allowing 2 receptions for 18 yards.

Safeties

Coverage Alignments

Kamren Curl played 29/55 snaps in his usual role as box safety. He played 16 at free safety, which has become a bigger part of his role since Darrick Forrest was injured. He played 8 snaps in the slot as Buffalo Nickel and 2 lined up on the DL.

Percy Butler lined up at free safety for 22/54 snaps. He played box safety for 18 snaps, slot corner/Buffalo Nickel for 12 snaps and boundary corner for 2 snaps.

Quan Martin aligned at free safety for 8 snaps, box safety for 4 snaps, in the slot for 2 snaps and on the DL for 1 snap.

Defense

Kamren Curl made 4 solo tackles and 3 assists. He was targeted twice in coverage and allowed 2 receptions for 31 yards and 1 TD. He allowed a perfect 158.3 opposing passer rating in coverage.

Percy Butler made 5 tackles and 2 assists with 1 missed tackle. He also had 1 QB pressure on a blitz. In 35 coverage snaps he was targeted 2 times, allowing 2 receptions for 10 yards.

Quan Martin played just 15 snaps (all coverage) and was not involved in any tackles. In coverage, he had 1 target and allowed 1 reception for 21 yards. He also had 1 pass broken up in supporting coverage.


STATS AND SNAPS – SPECIAL TEAMS

Joey Slye was 2/2 on field goals but missed 1/2 extra points. He has now missed extra points in 2 consecutive games. He has not missed a field goal since the Week 7 Giants game.

Tress Way punted 2 times for 90 yards and 16 total return yards (37 net yards/punt). He failed to land either punt inside the Giants’ 20.

Jamison Crowder had 4 punt returns for 0 yards.

Byron Pringle returned 2 kickoffs for 77 yards (38.5 yd/ret) which would be great if he hadn’t fumbled on one of them and given the Giants the ball at the Washington 34 yard line.

Terrell Burgess made 2 tackles on special teams. Nobody else even had an assist. There were no missed tackles or penalties.


Poll

Did you actually believe the Commanders were a playoff contender before the Giants game?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Absolutely
    (2 votes)
  • 45%
    Not really, but I was hopeful they might sneak into the Wild Card round
    (33 votes)
  • 51%
    Playoffs?! Playoffs?!
    (37 votes)
72 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Do you believe it now?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Absolutely
    (0 votes)
  • 10%
    My heart says yes, but in reality they are playing for draft position
    (7 votes)
  • 89%
    Seriously?
    (62 votes)
69 votes total Vote Now