“That’s probably one of the worst plays I’ve made in my football career,” Howell said of the pick.
Coach Ron Rivera noticed the agitation on Howell’s face and had a quick word with him in the team’s tunnel.
“He’s resilient,” Rivera said. “I knew he was going to get over it quickly and come out and play.”
He was right. And with a little help from their defense, the Commanders picked up one of their biggest victories of the season.
Howell passed for 325 yards and a game-tying touchdown and [Quan] Martin had a late interception to help Washington hold off New England 20-17 on Sunday.
Washington Post (paywall)
KJ Henry was as baffled as anyone that the official threw his flag. Hours after the play, as the Washington Commanders rookie defensive end sat at his locker, he was still trying to figure it out.
How could he have been called for roughing the passer on a would-be sack that appeared clean from all angles? There was no helmet-to-helmet contact on New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, no overt second act after the sack, no excessive force that could be deemed punishing.
So what was he supposed to do?
“I don’t know,” Henry said. “... But Mom said I got to do a little bit better, so I got to do better, I guess.”
Henry, a fifth-round draft pick who played his first defensive snaps Sunday, was so close to having a play to remember when he whipped around the edge of the line of scrimmage and took down Jones early in the third quarter. What he got — and what the Commanders got — was a game to remember from their draft class as a whole and a sign that maybe the kids are on track to contribute in a way their team sorely needs.
Sunday’s win was a reminder that its remaining players have hardly given up on this season. And its youngest ones seemed ready for the brighter spotlight.
Henry’s near-sack was just one of those notable moments. A play before, seventh-round defensive end Andre Jones Jr. batted a pass on second down to force third and long.
In the fourth quarter, sixth-round rookie running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. pinned the Patriots (2-7) deep after a 53-yard punt by Tress Way. Rodriguez tackled Patriots returner Demario Douglas for a loss of two yards, forcing New England, which was trailing by three, to start at its 5-yard line.
To seal the victory, second-round defensive back Quan Martin intercepted Mac Jones in the final minute.
Perhaps the most promising showing came courtesy of first-round cornerback Emmanuel Forbes Jr. Forbes hinted at a bounce-back performance Friday, when he posted an image of himself on Instagram with “IMMMM BACKKK” — and he wasn’t wrong.
The Athletic (paywall)
The Commanders are nowhere near mighty. But they hung in there Sunday. Most importantly, their young guys, from Sam Howell on down, and particularly their 2023 draft class — heretofore invisible for much of the season — finally made their presence felt across the board.
After Washington moved on from Chase Young and Montez Sweat this week (lemme hold a dollar, Tez), Ron Rivera said the deals were done in part to give some of the Commanders’ young guys more run. Sunday, many of them ran. Sometimes they ran the wrong way; sometimes they ran into each other. But they were going fast when doing so.
Let’s start with Washington’s 2023 first-round pick, cornerback Emmanuel Forbes Jr., famously benched a few weeks ago after multiple torchings, mostly at the hands of Philly’s A.J. Brown. Rivera and Jack Del Rio have brought him back slowly the last couple of weeks, a few plays at a time. Against the Patriots, Forbes saw the most playing time he’s gotten since Week 4, and he recorded three tackles and two passes defensed. And he was out there on the field on New England’s last drive to preserve the win.
“Honestly I just put my faith in God, and He helped me get through,” Forbes said. “And I just stayed level-headed and focused, and stayed the course, honestly.”
Forbes could have had an interception, too, in the third quarter, except the Patriots’ Jalen Reagor grabbed both of Forbes’ arms to keep him from securing the ball. (That wasn’t the only thing that referee Adrian Hill’s crew, uh, struggled with Sunday. More below.)
Many other young Commanders were in the mix, too. Running back Chris Rodriguez Jr., a sixth-round rookie, made a big hit on special teams in the fourth quarter on a punt return to back New England up at its own 5. Second-year man Chris Paul again started at left guard and again helped keep Howell clean most of the day. Defensive back Quan Martin, a second-round rookie who had played only 17 defensive snaps all season entering Sunday, secured the game with an interception when Jones’ pass went off the hands of JuJu Smith-Schuster with 30 seconds left.
And there was defensive end KJ Henry, whose edge-rushing skills at Clemson were part of what attracted Washington to him — tattooed Jones on a blindside hit, leading to a fumble and recovery by Washington defensive end Efe Obada (although Jones might have been ruled down upon review). Except, the officials — somehow — called Henry for roughing the passer, if “roughing the passer” means “a perfect hit between the 1 and the 0 on Jones’ jersey, without using your helmet, for a game-changing sack.”
And there was, of course, Howell, who made his 10th career start Sunday. His numbers were solid: 29 of 45 for 325 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The TD pass, 33 yards to Jahan Dotson on a post that tied the game at 17 in the third, was sublime.
Washington Post (paywall)
Turnovers keep Patriots close: The Commanders outgained New England by nearly 100 yards and enjoyed a more than 13-minute advantage in time of possession in the first half, but they trailed 14-10 at the break. Turnovers were to blame. On a second-down run with Washington leading 10-0 early in the second quarter, Patriots linebacker Jahlani Tavai punched the ball out of running back Brian Robinson Jr.’s grasp. New England defensive lineman Davon Godchaux recovered at the Washington 25, and Patriots quarterback Mac Jones connected with Hunter Henry for a 14-yard touchdown three plays later.
After the Commanders punted on their next possession, New England needed just two plays to take its first lead. On second down, running back Rhamondre Stevenson raced 64 yards to the end zone on the longest run of his career. The Patriots’ second touchdown in a little more than three minutes, coupled with Howell’s interception in the end zone before halftime, forced Washington to rally.
The Athletic (paywall)
“He’s our future. He’s our quarterback,” defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said.
The question of whether the 2022 fifth-round pick could become the Washington Commanders’ long-term quarterback has ridden shotgun with each week’s game. Ten career NFL starts, including all nine this season, won’t provide the organization with all the data points needed for a massive determination. There are times when such optimism seems hopelessly misplaced.
Howell’s improvement adds oomph to Rivera’s position. One week after a four-touchdown, 397-yard showing in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Howell completed 29 of 45 passes for 325 yards and one touchdown pass against New England. He also ping-ponged off defenders for a 24-yard run on third-and-23 late in the first half.
There are likely ulterior motives here as well. Rivera’s future in Washington and that of his staff are, to put it nicely, uncertain. Even a first winning season with this coach might not be enough to avoid a pink slip as the new ownership group plans upcoming maneuvers. Having a legitimate starting quarterback could change everything for everyone.
A fumble from Brian Robinson Jr. gave the Patriots life, and after two drives that lasted for a combined 94 seconds, Washington’s two-score lead transformed into a four-point deficit.
But unlike in previous weeks, when such mistakes proved to be the dynamite that upended the Commanders’ momentum off its tracks, Washington didn’t let it steer them off course. In the end, Washington did just enough on both sides of the ball to snap their two-game losing streak, and a Quan Martin interception ended up being the play that sealed the 20-17 victory, moving the Burgundy & Gold to 4-5 on the season.
It was another good day for the Commanders’ offense, which put up 432 total yards on 77 plays, marking the first time since the 2020 season that Washington has amassed at least 400 yards in back-to-back games. Much like it was in last week’s 38-31 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the offense looked efficient for most of the day, averaging 5.6 yards per play and converting nine of their 17 third-down attempts.
The bulk of that came from the production of Sam Howell, who completed 64% of his passes for 325 yards — his third 300-yard game in five weeks — to go with a touchdown and an interception. It looked like it would be a difficult day for the young quarterback, due to Bill Belichick’s tendency to confuse signal-callers with his complex defensive schemes, but Howell was calm in the pocket, maneuvered to avoid pressure and took shots when appropriate to pick apart the 10th ranked defense in the league.
Howell now has 2,640 yards in nine games, making him the fastest quarterback in franchise history to reach that mark.
with 30 seconds left and the ball at the Commanders’ 41-yard line, Jones’ pass intended for JuJu Smith-Schuster was picked off by Martin, allowing Washington to run out the clock.
Should the Commanders go on a run, to back above .500, it would be right on track for how previous seasons have gone for Washington. They are now 9-2 in November during Rivera’s tenure, and the next test will be a cross-country trip to take on the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 12.
2. The defense shut down the Patriots on third down.
While the Commanders were converting 53% of their third downs, the Patriots were running into a Burgundy & Gold wall that was working without Montez Sweat and Chase Young for the first time since trading the players away.
Other than their opening drives of the first and third quarters, the Patriots couldn’t manage to keep their offense on the field. After moving down to the Commanders’ 39-yard line to start the game, the Patriots didn’t pick up a third down until the start of the third quarter. That one, which saw Ezekiel Elliott rush for six yards on a third-and-4, was their last of the day, as the Patriots put up just 106 yards on their final five drives.
Some of that lack of production stemmed from Mac Jones simply missing receivers, but the Commanders should also be credited for coming up with drive-stopping plays. Jamin Davis ended up making one of more clutch plays of the afternoon by knocking the ball away from Rhamondre Stevenson on third-and-6.
By the end of the game, the Patriots were held to just 25% on third down, which is far below their season average of 39.5%.
Washington Post (paywall)
This was a hinge game, a clear flex point for two franchises fighting to find their identities and weighing whether to clean house. The results left Washington feeling far better about its quarterback, Sam Howell, and a host of rookies, while on the other side of the stadium there was a growing sense that a door is about to slam shut on the tenure of Belichick, who at 71 has not led a team to a playoff win in four years and counting, and whose boss, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, has expressed his unhappiness over that fact.
“The Patriot Way is dead,” Mike Florio announced on NBC’s Pro Football Talk on Sunday morning. He proceeded to shred Belichick’s career, positing that Belichick was always overrated and had been saved by Tom Brady and his influence on the league has been “a cocktail of arrogance and dismissiveness.” The New York Post blared, “Bill Belichick’s coaching tree has [an] alarming number of dead branches.” The Athletic jumped in on the pummeling by quoting an unnamed NFL executive calling for Belichick to be relieved sooner rather than later and labeling the Patriots’ descent from perennial contender to missing the playoffs “an indictment.” The theme of all these critiques is that Belichick’s demanding nature no longer works in the modern NFL and that maybe he never really was that good.
How did QB1 fare against Bill Belichick?
Sam Howell’s scrambling
The growth in Sam Howell has been evident across multiple areas. None more so than when it comes to scrambling out of the pocket.
There was a time earlier in the campaign when Howell would just take off and run, which put his decent athleticism to good use if nothing else. Now, the signal-caller is keeping his eyes downfield and is always looking to throw if the right opportunity presents itself.
If it’s not there, then Howell will run or throw it away. This might seem small, but it’s contributing significantly to the former North Carolina star’s improved efficiency, and long may it continue.
Pro Football Talk
The Commanders blew a lead against the Eagles in Week Eight and wide receiver Jahan Dotson said after the 38-31 loss that “we just flinch” in the biggest moments of a game.
Flinching was nowhere to be found in New England on Sunday, however. The Patriots led 17-10 in the third quarter, but quarterback Sam Howell led back-to-back scoring drives and the defense overwhelmed the Patriots offense in the fourth quarter to pave the way to a 20-17 Washington victory.
Howell threw an interception in the end zone to end the first half, but was 29-of-44 for 325 yards and a touchdown over the rest of the game. The first-year starter’s performance left defensive lineman Jonathan Allen convinced that the Commanders have the right guy leading their offense.
“Sam Howell is our future,” Allen said, via Ivan Lambert of USAToday.com. “He’s our quarterback. I feel like we found our quarterback for the next 5-10 years, and I truly believe that. When I look at the plays he makes on the field, and not only does he make great plays on the field, but his demeanor after bad plays and not playing well. He is always able to bounce back. . . . I’ve seen a lot of great quarterbacks in my time, played against a lot of them and feel he has the potential to be one of them. I can truly say this team is behind Sam Howell 100 percent.”
After Sunday’s win over the New England Patriots, Johnson was pleased with his team, specifically mentioning head coach Ron Rivera, offensive coordinator, quarterback Sam Howell and rookie defensive back Jartavius “Quan” Martin.
I’m very happy with my Commanders win over the Patriots! Players stepped up on both sides of the ball and played consistent in the entire fourth quarter.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 6, 2023
Coach Rivera had the team ready to play and Coach Eric Bieniemy called an excellent game! He was creative on offense and switched between runs and passes.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 6, 2023
QB Sam Howell did well executing the game plan. He threw for over 300 yards, his third game this season.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 6, 2023
I want to give a special shoutout to our receivers! They were excellent and caught just about everything Howell threw their way today.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 6, 2023
Our offensive line stepped up big this week and the defense played a solid game. Jartavius Martin's interception sealed the victory for the team!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 6, 2023
DC Sports King
In the third quarter, Henry came off the edge and sacked Patriots quarterback Mac Jones from his blindside.
The sack looked clean, except officials ruled Henry used his full body weight on Jones.
Tackling the quarterback. Fifteen yards. First down. pic.twitter.com/r04lSNj5vs— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) November 5, 2023
FOX Sports rules analyst Dean Blandino admitted he didn’t like the call during the game’s broadcast, “this is just a tackle, this is just momentum, there’s nothing punishing.”
After the Commanders’ 20-17 win, Referee Adrian Hill, who called the penalty, explained why Henry got penalized for the tackle, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post.
“The ruling on the field was that the defender came down with forcible contact, chest-to-chest. He didn’t perform one of those acts to remove most of that body weight — a gator roll or a clear to the side when he was coming in. He came down directly with that force on the player, so the category was full body weight.”
A gator roll, as Hill later explained, is when a defender rolls a quarterback to the side so that both players land on their side. Hill added Henry could have also broken the fall with his hands and knees in a crab-like fashion on top of the quarterback.
The explanation by Hill was more baffling than the penalty itself. Henry got penalized for making a football move. Since the NFL’s emphasis on player safety, particularly the quarterback, roughing the passer has been one of the most controversial penalties in the league.
The goalpost seemingly moves with every questionable penalty. Henry’s sack didn’t appear to be forcible. Officials expect Henry to defy physics to roll Jones through or softly bring him down by breaking their fall.
That’s right, infinity internet dollars, plus why not, all my Barstool Sports equity too if you can spot the roughing the passer penalty in that play! You won’t be able to find it, but that didn’t stop the refs from throwing a flag for it anyway! In a league where the refs sorta make it up as they go and have zero accountability, this one is special. That’s just a form tackle. They said it was called because the defensive player landed on the QB with his body weight, but he even rolled off! There was nothing he could have done differently there. In fact, if you showed me that clip and told me “they are going to use this sack as a teaching device for defensive linemen on how to properly sack a QB”, I would believe you!
There are bad calls, there are awful calls and then there’s what happened to Commanders defensive lineman K.J. Henry early in the third quarter.
Tough wins are important wins, and that’s certainly what Washington got with their 20-17 final against the Patriots.
Throughout the contest, however, Washington had something that the Patriots did not: a quarterback.
There are bad calls, there are awful calls and then there’s what happened to Commanders defensive lineman K.J. Henry early in the third quarter.
The rookie out of Clemson rushed off the left edge towards Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, beat the offensive tackle and zeroed in for the sack. It was a great play, everything the coaching staff wants to see, and Henry even forced a fumble on the tackle.
Understanding we live in a world of hyperbole and microwave hot takes, still, this may have been the worst roughing call of all time.
There were other bad calls, plenty of them, but nothing like the roughing call on Henry. That penalty gave New England a first down, and they’d kick a field goal shortly after.
The Washington Commanders beat the New England Patriots for the first time in 20 years.
Commanders Haven’t Given Up Yet
After a tumultuous week, it would have been easy for the Commanders to fold, especially after the Patriots scored 17 straight points to take a 17-10 lead, but they didn’t. The Commanders fought back and got a pivotal win.
It’s proof that they haven’t given up on the season or Ron Rivera. While the organization seems to have set its sights on next season, it can still be a tough out and will face many teams with their sights set on the playoffs.
If Washington can continue to put together performances like it did on Sunday, a solid foundation can be laid for next season, no matter who is calling the shots or coaching the team.
Podcasts & videos
Episode 693 - #WASvsNE postgame. If you're not excited about Sam Howell, get excited. The #Commanders just may have a franchise QB. And he could lead them to the playoffs.— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) November 6, 2023
In-depth analysis & discussion of Sam, the defense & much more from the game.https://t.co/RX16KDw2YV
Tight Ends Are ON THE MAP | The Player’s Club with Logan Thomas | Washington Commanders
Check out the best photos of the Washington Commanders’ Week 9 matchup with the New England Patriots. (photos by Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)
NFC East links
Jones exited in the second quarter after missing the previous three games with a neck injury
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones left Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders after the first play of the second quarter with a right knee injury.
Jones went down awkwardly and untouched while dropping back to pass and then grabbed his knee. He may have injured it on the final play of the first quarter, going down untouched before Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby touched him down.
According to the Fox broadcast, Jones told running back Saquon Barkley that his knee went out on him. Jones was taken to the blue injury tent and replaced by Tommy DeVito. He later walked to the locker room with head trainer Ronnie Barnes.
Jones signed a $160 million, four-year extension with New York in the offseason. This is the second time he has been injured this season. He missed the previous three games because of a neck injury.
Big Blue View
Tommy DeVito on at quarterback
Jones was slow to get up after tripping over Lawrence Cager on the last play of the quarter. The next play he went to the ground while dropping back. He quickly left the field, bringing Tommy DeVito onto the field.
Jones’ injury is feared to be “significant.”
“No update on Daniel,” head coach Brian Daboll said after the game. “Get tests and see where it’s at.”
Bleeding Green Nation
Bad news for Philadelphia.
Dallas Goedert suffered a fracture in his forearm and will undergo an MRI on Monday to see if there is further damage, according to NFL insider Adam Schefter. Goedert is considered to be a candidate to go on injured reserve.
If Goedert does go on IR, he’ll miss at least the next four games (note: the bye week does not count towards returning from IR):
- Week 11 at Kansas City Chiefs
- Week 12 vs. Buffalo Bills
- Week 13 vs. San Francisco 49ers
- Week 14 at Dallas Cowboys
He would then be eligible to return for the Eagles’ Week 15 road game against the Seattle Seahawks, assuming he is healed by then.
Raiders at Giants
Daniel Jones exits with injury, and Tommy DeVito has another tough day. Jones took a sack to end the first quarter, with his right knee appearing to buckle. He returned to the field to start the second quarter, but the knee buckled again and he was sacked for the second straight play. Jones, who returned on Sunday after missing the previous three games with a neck injury, sat out the rest of the game and is feared to have suffered a significant injury to the knee, per NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo. DeVito replaces Jones, and the rookie struggled again. After his tough debut in the loss to the Jets last week, DeVito was picked on consecutive pass attempts in the second quarter, leading directly to 10 Raiders points in the final two minutes of the first half. To his credit, DeVito did find some rhythm on an 84-yard TD drive and finished with a respectable 175 yards on 15-of-20 passing, but he took six sacks. With Jones injured again and Tyrod Taylor on injured reserve, the Giants will have some moving parts at QB, even if DeVito likely would get the first crack at replacing Jones. The bye is still three weeks away, and they’re back on the road the next two weeks.
Eagles at Cowboys
1. Eagles’ offense gets the job done without stuffing the stat sheet.Jalen Hurts is playing some of the best football of any quarterback in the NFL right now, but the going wasn’t easy on Sunday. His passing numbers are an indicator of how challenging it was to find success: 17 of 23, 207 yards and two touchdowns.
2. Cowboys learn margin of error is slim versus Eagles. Statistically, Dak Prescott outplayed Jalen Hurts. In fact, every key Cowboys weapon was more productive than their Eagles counterpart when it came to the numbers. But Dallas ended up on the losing end because in the most crucial moments, it fell short. A promising first-half drive ended in a field goal, seemingly a win for the Cowboys, who took a 17-14 lead with Brandon Aubrey’s 51-yarder. But the Cowboys surrendered two touchdowns to the Eagles in the third quarter, falling behind rather quickly. Dallas failed to convert a fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter, missing out on a Luke Schoonmaker touchdown by mere inches. And when the team did capitalize on a scoring opportunity later on, Prescott came up short on a crucial two-point conversion attempt when he stepped out of bounds short of the goal line.
Next Gen stat of the game: The Eagles’ defense allowed 5.6% of the Cowboys run plays to gain more rushing yards than expected, the fourth-lowest rate in a game over the last three seasons. Philadelphia allowed -37 rushing yards over expected in Week 9, its lowest total in a game since Week 15 of the 2021 season.
NFL Research: The Eagles completed three touchdown drives of 11-plus plays on Sunday, the most such drives in a game for the franchise in the last 30 seasons.
Commanders at Patriots
- Washington’s defense finishes it. In their first game since dealing away top pass rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young at the trade deadline, the Commanders’ defense had its shaky moments, including when Rhamondre Stevenson took off for a huge 64-yard rushing TD to give the Patriots the lead in the second quarter. Washington didn’t make many highlight-reel plays, failing to record a sack and mustering only one QB hit. But the Commanders also didn’t allow many chunk plays. Aside from the Stevenson run, New England’s longest play went for 20 yards, and Ron Rivera’s defense buckled down when it needed to. The Patriots were looking to tie the game or take the lead as they drove into Washington territory in the final minute of the game, but Jartavius Martin picked off Mac Jones on second-and-8 from the Commanders’ 41-yard line, sealing the game at the 30-second mark.
Next Gen stat of the game: Sam Howell found most of his success through the air when the Patriots played zone coverage, completing 18-of-23 passes for 207 yards against zone.
NFL Research: The Commanders earned their first win against the Patriots since Week 4 of the 2003 season. The score was 20-17 in that game, too.
Big Blue View
Giants have to stay the course, give Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen time to try and fix what has gone wrong in 2023
The Giants have seemed dysfunctional, particularly on offense, from the beginning. Poor play? Poor planning? Poor coaching? Some combination of all of that?
How did that happen just a year after the Giants’ front office and coaching staff were widely praised and it looked like the Giants were finally back on the path to NFL relevance?
I don’t have the answer.
Yes, every year is different. And with every development, every game, every embarrassing loss, the latest of which was Sunday’s 30-6 whooping by a Las Vegas Raiders team that fired its head coach on a short week and started a rookie fourth-round pick at quarterback, this one gets worse.
The Giants will have to make some changes for 2024. They might have to change the quarterback. At the least, they have to strongly consider drafting a potential Jones replacement. They probably have to move Evan Neal inside, or to another team. They have lots of free agent decisions to make. They have to add more difference makers. They have to figure out what to do about Saquon Barkley. They might have to take a hard look at some of the assistant coaches.
Here is one thing they cannot, or should not, do. Co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch simply cannot scratch their two-year itch and fire Daboll, perhaps sending Schoen packing with him since the coach and GM came to the Giants in what really amounted to a package deal in the winter of 2022.
Ever since letting Tom Coughlin go after the 2015 season, the Giants have more or less run in place. They haven’t gotten anywhere. Ben McAdoo flamed out after less than two years, and the Giants kicked GM Jerry Reese out the door with him. Pat Shurmur got two years and proved he wasn’t up to the task. Joe Judge got two years, and proved only that he is another failed wannabe Bill Belichick. GM Dave Gettleman had his key card revoked along with Judge.
All of that change and the Giants are still basically in the same place. They teased us in 2016 with a playoff berth, and then went right back to being a disaster. After the unexpected success of 2022, they are doing that again in 2023.
Thing is, the Giants simply can’t start the rebuild the organization merry-go-round again. They can’t blow things up and start over again. They keep trying that, and they are still stuck in the same place. When you keep changing ... and changing ... and changing everything you really wind up changing nothing. You never establish the consistency to actually build anything, you just keep tearing down and starting again.
At some point, good or bad, you have to let it ride. In my view, that is what the Giants have to do with Daboll and Schoen.
NFL league links
Pro Football Focus
Offensive spotlight: Outside of one ugly red-zone interception, Sam Howell was once again dealing for Washington at quarterback. He threw for over 300 yards at 7.3 yards per attempt and posted a 72.7% adjusted completion rate. He also threw several pinpoint passes and chipped in with a few key scrambles. Seven different Washington receivers caught multiple passes from Howell in the game.
Defensive spotlight: After Washington traded away both starting edge rushers, it stood to reason that the team would lack a certain presence in terms of edge pressure. That’s exactly what happened. KJ Henry was unfortunate to be flagged for a truly ridiculous roughing-the-passer penalty on what should have been a sack, but none of the Commanders’ edge rushers were able to consistently apply heat the way the players they dealt away were.
Rookie spotlight: Demario Douglas played 38 snaps for the Patriots and caught five of the seven targets thrown his way, three of which were contested and three of which moved the chains.
Washington corner Emmanuel Forbes had a bounce-back performance after being benched earlier in the season. Forbes was targeted four times and didn’t give up a catch, breaking up three passes.