The Washington Commanders played the team many consider to be the NFL’s worst on Sunday as the Arizona Cardinals made the trek to Landover, MD.
Washington started a new quarterback in Sam Howell and had a new offensive coordinator in Eric Bienemy, and it showed early and often on Sunday.
The Commanders punted on their opening drive before breaking out a six play, 91 yard touchdown drive that resulted in a 7 yard touchdown pass from Howell to second-year running back Brian Robinson. The touchdown was set up by a crucial pass interference penalty drawn by wide receiver Terry McLaurin, which moved Washington from the 50 yard line to the Arizona 13 yard line.
After the touchdown drive, Washington stalled.
The Commanders allowed 13 unanswered points while turning the ball over on back-to-back drives.
First, it was an interception by Howell thrown deep in Washington territory, setting up the Cardinals for a field goal to make it 7-6 Commanders.
On the next Washington drive, with the team in the redzone, running back Antonio Gibson fumbled, surely costing the team points.
After the teams exchanged punts, Howell was pressured, sacked and fumbled, which was recovered and run back for a touchdown by Arizona’s Cameron Thomas to give the Cardinals the lead.
A first half of Washington mistakes ended with a Joey Slye field goal to make it 13-10 Cardinals at the break.
In the second half, after the Commanders punted on their first two possessions, the Washington defense finally forced a turnover as Arizona quarterback Josh Dobbs fumbled on a sack by Montez Sweat, setting up Washington deep in Cardinals territory.
Jonathan Allen (#93) and the Commanders defense did not allow a touchdown in the Week 1 victory (Photo: USA Today)
Seven plays later, on a third down and goal, Howell ran it in for a six yard touchdown to put the Commanders on top for good.
A Joey Slye field goal with just over two minutes to go increased the lead to four and the eventual final score of 20-16.
The Washington defense won the day, going the final 25 minutes of the game without allowing a point and forcing two turnovers along the way. In fact, the Commander defense only allowed three field goals on the day, keeping Dobbs and the Arizona offense out of the endzone all four quarters.
A close shave in what was expected to be a larger margin of victory for the Commanders has a lot of question marks surrounding the offensive side of the ball.
Can Howell and company find their footing a bit better in Week 2?
Up next, it’s a road trip to take on the Denver Broncos, who lost a heartbreaker last week to Las Vegas, 17-16. Denver will do all it can to avoid going 0-2, shaping up for a very intriguing matchup for Washington.