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Washington Commanders highlights and lowlights from loss to Bills


A look at the good (Hail!) and bad (Fail!) from the Washington Commanders’ 37-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Trailing 37-0 and facing fourth and 19 in Buffalo territory with 50 seconds remaining, Commanders Coach Ron Rivera elected to have Joey Slye attempt a 51-Yard field goal. Slye’s kick — after a perfect snap from struggling long snapper Camaron Cheeseman, who needed the work — was good, helping Washington avoid what would’ve been its first shutout loss since 2019.

Had the Bills’ 37-point advantage stood, the result would’ve been Washington’s most lopsided defeat at home in 75 years. On Oct. 17, 1948, Steve Van Buren rushed for three touchdowns and the Eagles intercepted Sammy Baugh three times in a 45-0 rout at Griffith Stadium. Thanks to Sunday’s last-minute field goal, the margin of defeat was only Washington’s largest at FedEx Field since the Kansas City Chiefs embarrassed Mike Shanahan’s squad, 45-10, on a snowy afternoon in December 2013.

Fail: Third-down execution

After the Bills converted their fifth third down in seven opportunities midway through the second quarter, CBS play-by-play man Andrew Catalon mentioned that the Commanders entered the day having allowed four or fewer third-down conversions in nine consecutive games dating from last season. The longest such active streak in the NFL ended with a thud. Buffalo went on to convert nine third downs — the most allowed by Washington since December 2021 — on 15 attempts. Meanwhile, the Commanders’ offense was 1 for 9 on third down.

Hail: Sean McDermott’s defense

Credit where it’s due. The Bills sacked Sam Howell nine times and pressured him on 27 of 39 dropbacks, according to Next Gen Stats, which is the second-highest pressure rate in a game since 2014. Making life hell for an inexperienced quarterback is nothing new for Buffalo. The Democrat and Chronicle notes that Sunday marked the eighth time the Bills faced a quarterback with five or fewer games of NFL experience since McDermott was hired in 2017. They’ve now won all eight of those games while holding their young foes to an average passer rating below 50. Howell’s rating Sunday was 41.5.

Bills solve Sam Howell and keep Commanders’ new-look offense in check

Howell, who fell to 3-1 as a starter, became the 22nd Washington quarterback to throw four interceptions in a game and the first since Kirk Cousins on Sept. 25, 2014. Some of the other members of the franchise’s four-pick club include Rex Grossman, Patrick Ramsey, Brad Johnson and Mark Rypien, who was among the legends at FedEx Field for alumni homecoming weekend. Joe Theismann threw at least four picks in a game six times. Howell joined a much shorter list of Washington quarterbacks who have been sacked nine times in a game. That battered group includes Carson Wentz (2022), John Beck (2011) and Theismann (1978). Beck’s 10-sack day came at the hands of the Bills, during a 23-0 shutout in Toronto.

The Bills wide receiver paid tribute to his younger brother, Trevon, a standout cornerback for the Cowboys who suffered a torn ACL in practice last week, and caught eight passes for a game-high 111 yards against Washington. Diggs had a 30-yard catch on Buffalo’s first possession and another 30-yard grab with the Bills backed up at their 1-yard line in the third quarter. He became the sixth active player with at least 9,000 career receiving yards. Diggs, who grew up in Gaithersburg and starred at Good Counsel and Maryland, tends to shine at FedEx Field. In three games in Landover, he has 25 catches for 353 yards and a touchdown. Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller, a teammate of Diggs at Good Counsel, intercepted Josh Allen in the second half.

Trailing 16-0 early in the fourth quarter, Washington’s defense got a much-needed stop. After Daron Payne deflected Allen’s pass at the line of scrimmage to force a turnover on downs on fourth and short, the Commanders took over at their 37-yard line. On the next play, Gibson had the ball knocked loose from his grasp while fighting for extra yards after catching a screen pass. Bills linebacker Terrel Bernard recovered the running back’s second lost fumble in three weeks at the Washington 30, and Allen scored the game-sealing touchdown six plays later. Among non-quarterbacks, only Dalvin Cook and Melvin Gordon have more fumbles than Gibson’s 11 since he entered the league in 2020, according to Stathead.

The Commanders have their reality check. What’s important is their response.

Hail: The surprisingly decent Cardinals

On the heels of a humbling defeat at home, Commanders fans might’ve found some solace in watching the Cowboys lose to the Cardinals as double-digit favorites in the desert. (My colleague Neil Greenberg tried to tell you that Arizona, which has had a fourth-quarter lead in all three games this season, wouldn’t be as bad as most analysts predicted.) In hindsight, Washington’s Week 1 victory over Arizona looks a bit better now, and the Cowboys’ loss keeps the Commanders tied with Dallas in the NFC East. On the flip side, last week’s win over Denver doesn’t look quite as impressive after the Dolphins hung 70 points on Sean Payton’s Broncos.

The Commanders have started slow and dug early holes in all three games this season, but Sunday’s fourth quarter was almost as disappointing. Allen gave way to backup Kyle Allen after his fourth-quarter touchdown run, and while you wouldn’t know it from a quick glance at the box score because he didn’t attempt a pass, the former Washington quarterback led a 64-yard touchdown drive against a gassed Washington defense that folded like a table under the weight of a flying Bills Mafia member. The Bills called nine consecutive running plays on the march, including a 34-yard burst by James Cook, who finished with 15 carries for 98 yards.





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