The Washington Football Team successfully destroyed whatever signs of hope and progress emerged after its Week 7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in a humiliating 23-20 loss to the New York Giants this Sunday. For the second time this season, Washington defied all odds and found a way to lose to lowly 2-7 New York, a truly remarkable feat given the current state of the G-Men. Now 2-6, Washington took a significant hit in its pursuit of relevance in the weak NFC East.
The first half of the game was simply bad football. Washington had a big stop on fourth and one on New York’s opening drive, but gave the ball right back with a turnover as soon as it returned to offense. On the team’s first offensive play of the game, Washington running back Antonio Gibson, who showed signs of real progress in a solid performance last week against the Cowboys, fumbled the ball. In a tragic scramble for possession, no one on either team wanted to, or appeared to remember how to, acquire the loose ball. New York eventually recovered the ball after it rolled for over 40 yards.
Later in the first quarter, rookie punt returner Isaiah Wright muffed a punt return that yet again gave New York possession. And, before the end of the first half, quarterback Alex Smith threw the first of three interceptions. Overall, Washington’s offense was tragic, with turnover after turnover –– three interceptions and two fumbles over four quarters.
In another stunning loss for Washington, quarterback Kyle Allen went down in the first half with an ankle injury and is now out for the rest of the season. The end of Allen’s season could very well mark the end of Washington’s division title prospects, adding to what seems to be a never-ending list of the team losing its key up-and-coming players,
Smith, back on the field for the first time in two years since a devastating leg injury nearly ended his career, replaced Allen as starting quarterback. With Dwayne Haskins as the backup and Smith as the starter, neither option is looking particularly appealing for Washington. Smith’s age and inconsistency and Haskins’ poor performances earlier this season raise questions about Washington’s prospects. It is unlikely either quarterback will still be around next season.
The team’s performance on defense was bad news, too. Once again, Washington’s defense failed to work as a cohesive unit, proving weak, spotty, inconsistent and unable to stop New York from scoring. New York’s weak, turnover-prone offense came into Week 9 as the second-worst offense in terms of yards per game. Washington’s dominant pass rush had no business being manhandled the way it was by such a poor offensive team. In the first half of the game, Washington allowed the most yards it had all season to the NFL’s second-worst offensive unit. New York managed to outgain Washington 244 yards to 132 in the first half, with quarterback Daniel Jones capitalizing on the embarrassing Washington defense to play his best game yet.
Toward the end of the game, however, Washington saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Smith threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who caught and ran the ball for a stunning 68-yard touchdown. McLaurin was by far Washington’s best player and a force throughout the game, with seven catches for 115 yards that afternoon. After McLaurin’s touchdown, Washington had two chances to come back and tie the game or even take the lead, but the afternoon’s bad offense once again reared its head; with just over two minutes left, Smith threw two more interceptions and with them any chance of a win for his team.
Washington’s humiliating defeat at the hands of New York reflects a troubling pattern in its play, marked by poor communication, inconsistency, a lack of unity and turnovers in crucial moments. Washington keeps making the same mistakes and proves unable to fix them. New York did not win this game; Washington defeated itself. Everything New York accomplished was because of what Washington did not do.
Though still second in the NFC East, Sunday’s game severely hurt Washington’s quest for a division title. The team yet again lost a game it had no business losing, reminding the franchise and its fans of the sad reality at hand and justifying the title of this column. The NFC East may still be up for grabs, but Washington’s current level of play will not cut it. Washington needs to step it up and take advantage of its easy schedule, full of winnable games in the coming weeks, to have any shot at winning the division.
Arianne Levine is a sophomore in the College. District Disappointments? appears online every other week.