DC Sports King
Wilson got outside the pocket to launch the prayer as Commanders linebacker Cody Barton charged at him. The ball hung in the air. Commanders’ rookie Emmanuel Forbes batted the ball up in the air instead of down to the ground. The ball bounced right into the hands of Broncos wide receiver Brandon Johnson for the miracle touchdown.
The Broncos Hail Mary cut Washington’s lead to 35-33, as Commanders defenders looked in disbelief.
However, the Broncos were unable to convert the two-point conversion. Wilson targeted wide receiver Courtland Sutton, crossing the formation. Commanders cornerback Benjamin St-Juste appeared to make contact early to break up the pass.
The officials did not throw a flag, and Washington survived the whacky ending of the game.
With the second quarter not even half over, the Commanders were staring at a 21-3 deficit. The defense was getting picked apart by Russell Wilson, who looked crisp and poised as he stood unimpeded in the pocket and connected with his pass-catchers. But just as it did in Week 1, the unit provided the jolt Washington needed to bring itself back to life.
It was second-and-15 at the Commanders’ 45-yard line, and as Wilson was scrambling to his left, Jamin Davis closed in and popped the ball loose from his grasp. It was recovered by Washington, preventing what would have been a disaster for the Burgundy & Gold.
From that point on, the game completely swung in Washington’s favor. The Commanders went on a 32-6 run, and while the Broncos did make things interesting with a Hail Mary at the end of regulation, it was not enough to prevent a 35-33 victory for the Commanders, giving them a 2-0 start for the first time since 2011.
DC Sports King
Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson delivered a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit for a second straight week. This time, he got ejected from the game for his heinous act.
Jackson left his feet to lunge at Washington Commanders tight end Logan Thomas, connecting up high as Thomas hauled in a four-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sam Howell late in the second quarter.
The hit on Logan Thomas that got Kareem Jackson ejected. Definitely the right call. pic.twitter.com/NnFrqTNEha— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) September 17, 2023
Thomas was down for several minutes. Ultimately, he got to his feet and jogged off the field. However, Thomas was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a concussion.
Meanwhile, officials disqualified Jackson from the game.
Pro Football Talk
After the game, Payton was asked if he thought Jackson’s ejection took the air out of the team’s sails.
“You’d have to ask them . . . I don’t think anyone’s getting deflated,” Payton said in his postgame press conference.
Jackson was fined for a hit that concussed Raiders wide receiver Jakobi Meyers in the opener and Thomas also suffered a concussion on Sunday, which raises the prospect of further discipline for Jackson in the form of a suspension. The NFL will discuss that on Monday and Payton
“I don’t have an answer for you,” Payton said. “Those things happen so quickly and, from my vantage point, you just get to see it one time. You look up. They make the call, and you have to go with it.”
Washington Post (paywall)
The Washington Commanders won Sunday for a thousand-and-one reasons, resilience and perseverance highly ranked among them, last-second good fortune not to be overlooked. But this season on the football field is about Sam Howell until it isn’t. And after two wins in two weeks, the second-year quarterback not only remains the central character, but buying in feels right.
Howell wasn’t perfect in Sunday’s come-from-behind, down-to-the-last-play 35-33 victory over the Denver Broncos at Empower Field. He won’t be perfect next week against Buffalo or the following week at Philadelphia, tough tasks both. But being perfect isn’t the assignment. That would be growing each week. That would be getting up when he’s knocked down. That would be showing he’s the quarterback for 2024 and beyond.
Through two weeks, Sam Howell is completing 65.7 percent of his passes. He has three touchdowns and one interception. He has lost two fumbles. He has been sacked 10 times.
Sometimes he holds on to the ball too long. Sometimes his line lets him down. And sometimes he makes just the right throw at just the right time. The 2023 Commanders are 2-0, and every game is an opportunity to learn more about whether the man playing quarterback for them at the moment could be their quarterback for the foreseeable future. What a notion. Can’t wait till next week.
Washington Post (paywall)
The Washington Commanders trailed by 18 points in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, but the message on the sideline was simple.
“Everybody’s telling each other, ‘It’s one play,’” left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “All it takes is one play.”
[A]fter falling into a hole, the Commanders quickly climbed out and secured a 35-33 win thanks to defensive takeaways, the poise of their young quarterback and a career performance from running back Brian Robinson Jr.
[T]he remarkable second-half surge was keyed in large part by Washington’s running game, a facet of Eric Bieniemy’s offense that was in question after Week 1 and for much of the first half Sunday. Against the Broncos, Washington totaled 388 net yards of offense, with 190 in the first half and 198 in the second. It more than tripled its production on the ground from Week 1 and nearly doubled its average yardage per play in the second half (7.6 yards per play vs. 4.8).
Robinson ran the ball 18 times Sunday for 87 yards and two touchdowns, the first of which put the Commanders ahead 28-24. Robinson also had 42 receiving yards on two catches, showing his versatility and the growth of Washington’s screen game under Bieniemy.
The Commanders are 2-0 for the first time in 12 years after their best comeback since 2015, when then-quarterback Kirk Cousins shouted, “You like that!?” after rallying from 24 down. Sunday, Washington rallied from a 21-3 deficit to beat the Denver Broncos 35-33, after defending a 2-point conversion on the game’s final play.
Washington rallied for the second time this season after doing so in the opener vs. Arizona, though that was only a six-point second-half deficit. The franchise has not started 3-0 since 2005, also the last season it won a playoff game. Washington hosts the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
It was Washington’s biggest road comeback win since a 21-point rally in 1990 vs. Detroit.
“It just feels different,” Washington tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “And I said that last week. I’m telling you it feels different. I just feel like this team we’re resilient. We just find ways to win. It doesn’t matter what the score is, doesn’t matter what the situation is. It’s all about getting a W.”
Washington has outscored its opponents 34-15 in the second half.
“It was a tough and grueling camp, but we knew it would prepare us for the fourth quarter,” said Washington receiver Terry McLaurin, who caught a 30-yard touchdown pass. “I’m proud of the way we finished. We have to get off to a better start.”
The Broncos (0-2) have lost back-to-back home games for the first time, not the kind of history coach Sean Payton was hoping to make in his return to the sideline after a year in the broadcast studio following a highly successful 15-year stint in New Orleans, especially after he criticized predecessor Nathaniel Hackett for doing one of the worst coaching jobs in NFL history last year.
The Broncos lost despite scoring touchdowns on their first three drives for the first time since 2010. Their 18-point blown lead tied for the fourth-largest at home in franchise history.
“This is a resilient team,” Washington’s Sam Howell said after throwing for 299 yards and two TDs in his first road start. “The thing I’m proud of is we had each other’s back on both sides of the ball.”
The Athletic (paywall)
linebacker Jamin Davis chased down Russell Wilson for a strip-sack recovered by Washington. That raised the Commanders’ vibe, and soon, Sweat’s weekly game-within-the-game against his fellow defensive linemen took over.
Washington finished with seven sacks Sunday, 1.5 each from Sweat and Young in the latter’s first game of the season and fourth since 2021. The Commanders totaled 14 QB hits, five tackles for loss and a third-quarter stretch where Payne came out and “took over a whole f—ing series by himself,” Sweat said. “We knew we had to get going after that.”
Sweat has three sacks through two games, one more than Payne. Allen earned his first in the Week 1 rally over Arizona.
“I love it,” Sweat said of the competition among the linemen. “(It) makes the next man know that you can’t rest. You got to go.”
In this game, the next man was the whole team. Washington improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2011, completed the franchise’s largest road comeback since overcoming a 21-point deficit at Detroit on Nov. 4, 1990, and helped their head coach achieve a milestone victory.
“It tells me (the team) are capable if they just stick to it,” Ron Rivera said shortly after his 100th career win.
“We would have never been in the position (to come back) in the first half if the defense doesn’t get that turnover,” left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said.
“The crazy part is we were waiting for something good to happen to us,” a relieved Rivera said. “When Jamin got that strip, it gave us a jolt.”
The Athletic (paywall)
The mistake you can make when a team wins a game early in a season is to listen to players afterward who say ‘we wouldn’t have won this game last season.’ Because it almost always winds up wrong. But it is, genuinely, hard to see how this Commanders team would have come all the way back from a 21-3 first-half deficit on the road in previous Ron Rivera incarnations. Washington’s rallied on the road before, but rarely finished the deal. The Commanders did Sunday, led by their defensive line, which was silent in the first half, but roared to life behind Daron Payne in the second.
And, after throwing the ball 30 (!!) times in the first half, Eric Bieniemy calmed down and started grinding out yards on the ground. Brian Robinson — who may or may not have been on my fantasy team bench Sunday while I started Isiah Pacheco — scored twice. The screen game that Bieniemy and Andy Reid used to destroy opponents’ wills in Kansas City broke off some huge plays.
Howell continued to impress with his decision-making. And, after somehow giving up a Hail Mary touchdown on the last play of regulation, Benjamin St-Juste — with, let’s say, the referees allowing a lot of contact — broke up the two-point conversion attempt pass to Courtland Sutton.
Washington’s 2-0 for the first time since 2011. Rex Grossman was the starting quarterback in D.C. that season. It did not end well. It’s safe to say the ’11 team wouldn’t have won this game.
The Washington Commanders completed their biggest comeback since 1990 for their first 2-0 start since 2011.
Chase Young finding his form:
Few players have endured a tougher road than Chase Young.
Injuries have limited the former No. 2 overall pick and have caused him to miss significant time since 2021. In his first appearance of the 2023 season, Young looked like the guy Washington thought he’d become when they drafted him in 2020.
The fourth-year defensive end had 1.5 sacks and a tackle-for-loss on Sunday. If Young can continue to perform as he did against the Broncos, he’ll take an already strong Commanders defense to another level.
In Sunday’s win over the Denver Broncos, Young returned to action after missing Week 1 with a neck injury. Young was everywhere, recording 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hits. He harassed Denver quarterback Russell Wilson from start to finish.
Howell did his part, too, connecting on 27 of 39 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. Washington had trailed the Broncos, 21-3, before Howell led a comeback.
After Sunday’s win, Aditi Kinkhabwala caught up with the pair after the game. She asked Young about his second-year quarterback.
“He’s that dude,” Young said with a smile. “We know he that dude. We been knew he that dude. Sammy Sosa, that’s all I can say.”
We aren’t quite sure why he called him the name of a former MLB star, but all three shared a laugh, and it was hilarious.
Podcasts & videos
Postgame LIVE: Hear from Coach Rivera, QB Sam Howell and more after the Mile High comeback https://t.co/cHPdTM1Ifo— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) September 17, 2023
️Recapping the Commanders' wild comeback win at Denver. The turning point. How the linemen turned the defense into an imposing group by competing with each other for sacks. Sam Howell, Chase Young, Ron Rivera's 100th win and raw locker-room reaction.https://t.co/kpBpbNc3nN— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) September 18, 2023
Commanders - Broncos Post Game | Trap or Dive Podcast
Locked on Commanders: Washington Commanders Sam Howell, Montez Sweat, and Chase Young Lead Tale of Two Teams in Week 2 Win
Check out the best photos of the Washington Commanders from their Week 2 matchup against the Denver Broncos. (Photos by Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)
NFC East links
Giants at Cardinals
Next Gen stat of the game: The Giants scored 24 unanswered points to complete the franchise’s largest comeback in the Super Bowl era. New York’s win probability was as low as 4.7 percent with 38 seconds left in the third quarter (trailing 28-14).
NFL Research: Daniel Jones’ 259 passing yards in the second half are the most he’s had in his career for any half.
Cowboys at Jets
Micah Parsons is on a DPOY pace. The Cowboys boast the best defense in the NFL behind Parsons’ play. Once again, the linebacker was all over the field, discombobulating the entire Jets offense. Parsons finished with two sacks, a strip of Dalvin Cook, nine pressures, three tackles for loss and a turnover caused by pressure, per Next Gen Stats. Thanksgiving Turkeys don’t get stuffed as much as Parsons’ stat sheet. His .57-second average get-off on 29 rushes is mind-boggling. Dan Quinn’s defense is off to a ridiculous start to the season. The unit forced three INTs, a fumble, three sacks and held New York to 1 of 10 on third-down conversions. The defense has allowed one TD through two weeks.
NFL Research: The Cowboys have their second-best scoring margin through two games in franchise history (+60; only behind 1968’s +67).
Washington at Denver
Take a bow, Sam Howell. If ever there were a game with a true tale of two halves, it was this one. Howell and the Commanders gained 90 yards on their first 20 plays and had just three points to show for it. Things started to turn late in the first half, when Howell led the Commanders on a nine-play, 49-yard drive ending in a touchdown pass to Logan Thomas on fourth-and-goal. From there, Howell took off, lighting up the scoreboard with three touchdown drives in the second half, including the best pass of his young career, a 30-yard scoring strike to Terry McLaurin. Howell commanded (no pun intended) the offense throughout the game, showing poise, confidence and decisiveness on every dropback. He extended plays and picked up yards with his feet when necessary. He stood tall in the pocket and delivered bullets to 10 different targets, finishing with an impressive passing line (27 of 39, 299 yards, two touchdowns). I see what Ron Rivera saw in him entering 2023. I’m officially sold after another performance in which Howell battled and came out on top.
Washington’s defensive front is an absolute menace. Make that two straight weeks in which the Commanders’ lauded front four singlehandedly swung a game in their favor. Last week, it was Daron Payne and Co. harassing Joshua Dobbs in a tight affair in Washington. This time around, the return of Chase Young helped boost the group, which threw a massive wrench into Denver’s offensive plans, buying Washington time to regain the lead and denying Denver a chance to pull off a comeback. When hyping up defenses around the league, don’t overlook Washington’s group, which tallied seven sacks on Sunday. It’s a huge reason why the Commanders are 2-0.
Next Gen Stat of the game: Sam Howell’s 30-yard TD pass to Terry McLaurin traveled an air distance of 41.2 yds with 1.2 yards of target separation for a completion probability of 22 percent.
NFL Research: Sam Howell is the first Commanders quarterback to win his first three career starts since at least 1950.
NFL league links
Indy ran one franchise QB into oblivion. Will it learn from its mistakes before doing the same to their current signal caller?
We’re only two games into the Anthony Richardson era in Indianapolis and it’s not too early to admit that the physical punishment he’s subjecting himself to is a cause for concern. Four years ago, Andrew Luck retired mid-preseason from the same team Richardson now helms, to the astonishment of fans. The cumulative effect of years of hits had taken their toll on his 6-foot-4, 240 pound frame. Luck wasn’t viewed as a running quarterback because of his pocket proficiency, but nobody told the defenders who pummeled him into early retirement both behind the line of scrimmage and as luck bravely took on linebackers while scrambling to gain extra yards. By age 29, his body was worn down. He’d gone under the knife to repair several shoulder injuries, lacerated a kidney, partially torn his abdominal muscle, torn cartilage in his ribs and strained a calf. His rushing highlights are majestic and wince-inducing in retrospect.
There’s a diminishing return associated with running your colossal quarterback like a fullback. Coaches feel compelled to use them like battering rams rather than face the criticism of wasting their brawn. The Colts are discovering the delicate balance between having a quarterback with the size and strength of Derrick Henry and teaching him how to wield that power in moderation. The bigger they are, the harder they fall is an axiom that applies to quarterbacks as well.
Six minutes into his first quarter of the Colts’ clash with the Houston Texans on Sunday, Colts head coach Shane Steichen dialed up a fake reverse that opened up the left side of the field for Richardson to dash into the endzone for his second rushing touchdown of the game. However, on his way in, safety M.J. Stewart delivered a legal hit to Richardson that sent the quarterback flying and resulted in his head bouncing off the turf. Somehow, Richardson’s concussion slipped through the cracks and he remained in the game for two more possessions before he was taken to the medical tent, then left permanently for the locker room.