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Washington Football Team is 2-6 again, but this hole seems much deeper – Washington Blog



DENVER — Last season, the Washington Football Team limped to a 2-6 record, preaching patience and progress and that it was oh … so … close. And then it won five of its last seven games to win the NFC East and gave eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay a scare in the first round of the playoffs.

One year later, Washington is 2-6 again following Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the Denver Broncos. But it will be much harder to make a similar run, and even harder to win the NFC East considering it is 4½ games behind the Dallas Cowboys (6-1).

As Washington enters its bye week, it does so facing a lot more questions with far fewer answers. At least not the answers anyone really wants to hear right now. Is this team building something, as it felt it was entering the season? Or was that hot finish last season just a tease?

“I think this team is still trying to search and find ourselves more than anything else. That’s where we are,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said.

After Sunday’s loss, Rivera said he would re-evaluate all starting positions, among other things.

Washington has nine more games to prove that, in its second season under Rivera, it is indeed building something. Sunday was a game that should have helped prove it was better than what it had shown during a three-game losing streak. It was facing a 3-4 Denver team that had lost four consecutive games.

Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. — one of only three projected starters for the offense entering the season who was on the field at the end of Sunday’s loss — said the unit needs to find an identity.

“We need to look at the tape and do some self-scouting and understand what we’re really good at and do those things,” Leno said. “That will help our offense, and then we can find an identity and then we can get rolling in the right direction, because our defense is starting to play really good football.”

Last season, Washington’s offseason acquisitions made a difference. Tight end Logan Thomas (72 receptions) and running back J.D. McKissic (80 receptions) had breakout seasons. Ronald Darby was solid at corner. First-round pick Chase Young had four sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in the second half of the season to lead the defense. Seventh-round safety Kamren Curl became a solid starter.

This year, the newcomers haven’t produced enough:

  • Corner William Jackson III has been inconsistent as he learns a new scheme and different techniques

  • First-round linebacker Jamin Davis has steadily progressed

  • Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was hurt in the second quarter of the season opener and nobody knows if or when he will return

  • Receiver Curtis Samuel has played 27 snaps because of a groin injury first suffered in late May

  • Rookie receiver Dyami Brown has missed the losing streak with a knee injury.

Washington cut kicker Dustin Hopkins two weeks ago in favor of Chris Blewitt, who had last kicked in a game at Pitt in 2016. He had two kicks blocked Sunday — that’s three for him in two games.

Running back Antonio Gibson has been slowed by a shin injury, though he is still able to play. Even Young, who finished last season looking like a player ready to become a top-five pass-rusher this season, has posted just 1.5 sacks and forced one fumble.

“It’s the same,” Young said, comparing this season’s halfway vibes to last year. “I feel like last year, I could have felt like this, I could have felt bad, but we have to keep going. I’m not going to stop.”

The reality is, Washington is probably closer to 0-8 than 4-4. In a win against the New York Giants, a last-second missed field goal was nullified by an offside penalty. Hopkins made the extra kick. Against Atlanta, it took some incredible plays in the final minute by quarterback Taylor Heinicke and McKissic to win by four.

“I’m not letting frustration set in,” said safety/linebacker Landon Collins. “It’s not too hard. I’ve been playing this game so long, you just try to keep the younger guys — the guys we need — tuned in so we make those plays we need to make.”

Washington’s best hope is some key players return, such as Thomas (hamstring) and All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff (knee), and that others such as Davis and Young take a step forward in their development.

Thomas and Scherff have missed the entire four-game losing streak. Minus Thomas, their best red zone threat, Washington is averaging 5.5 points per game on drives in the red zone compared to 15.75 in the first four games.

“We are where we are,” Rivera said. “The nice thing about coming out of the bye is we should get a bunch of guys back on the football field. Then we’ll see how we do from there.”

But Washington has difficult games remaining at home against Tampa Bay (6-2), at the Las Vegas Raiders (5-2), and two against Dallas. They play on the road against the Carolina Panthers (4-4) and Giants (2-5), and have two games left against the Philadelphia Eagles (3-5). And the Seattle Seahawks (3-5) could have injured quarterback Russell Wilson back when they visit Washington in late November.

Last season, Washington fell to 2-7 before starting a turnaround by winning three straight, including a road win against the 11-0 Pittsburgh Steelers. In Rivera’s nine full seasons as a coach, his teams have gone 36-35-1 in the season’s first eight games and 42-30 in the second. Of the five times his teams were under .500 in the first half, they were .500 or better four times in the second.

He is frustrated. He is disappointed. He is not panicking.

“I’d like to believe that as we progress through the season, especially my early years as a head coach, a lot of things seem to come together,” he said. “[Last season] things kind of came together at the right time for us. I like to believe we are on the same path.

“We still haven’t won … but if we continue to trend in the right way, we have a chance.”

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Detroit Lions get first win of season with walk-off TD to beat Minnesota Vikings



DETROIT, Mich. — Inside Ford Field on Sunday, Detroit Lions fans experienced something that hadn’t happened there in over a full calendar year: a win.

First-year Lions coach Dan Campbell will no longer have to field questions about a winless season, as Detroit upset Minnesota, 29-27, for their first regular-season win since Dec. 6, 2020, behind a walk-off, game-winning touchdown by rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown from Jared Goff as time expired.

It also marked their first victory at home since Nov. 15, 2020.

Even without their dynamic running back D’Andre Swift (shoulder), the Lions were playing inspired football on the heels of the Oxford High School shooting on Tuesday where four teenagers were killed by a fellow student. The school is located a little more than 30 miles outside of Detroit. The Lions honored the victims with a moment of silence ahead of the kickoff, while also wearing T-shirts and helmet decals as a tribute.

At halftime, the Lions held their largest lead of the season after going up 20-6 and ended their drought of going 10 straight games of being held under 20 points. Quarterback Jared Goff controlled the offense, going 25-for-41 with 296 passing yards and three touchdowns.

“Those guys are on our minds. We want to represent them on Sunday,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said during Friday’s practice. “I know there will be a group of those students and kids and people that have been affected that will be watching this game. Right now, that’s the best way to help them.”

Detroit (1-10-1) also snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Vikings, dating back to 2017.

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Chargers’ Michael Davis makes wild interception in back-and-forth game with Bengals



CINCINNATI — A potential touchdown turned into a big turnover for the Cincinnati Bengals.

In the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow threw a deep ball to wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase down the sideline with Chargers cornerback Michael Davis trailing behind Chase.

From there, it all went south for Cincinnati. Chase bobbled the pass and deflected it behind him, which allowed Davis to not only make up the distance between them but also give him a chance at an interception.

When the two players went to the ground to pluck the ball out of the air, Davis was the one holding it. He gave the Chargers their second turnover in as many defensive drives and compounded Cincinnati’s woes in a game with playoff implications.

For Chase it was the sixth drop of the season and the second that resulted in an interception, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Things got worse from there for the Bengals. The Chargers turned the turnover into points when quarterback Justin Herbert found Keenan Allen for a 7-yard touchdown pass, giving Los Angeles a 16-0 lead with 1:34 left in the first quarter.

The Chargers extended their lead to 24-0 after a trick play in which Allen found Herbert for 2-point conversion.

Turnovers on three straight possesions by the Chargers allowed the Bengals to claw back to within 24-22 when Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon scored midway through the third quarter.

But a fumble by Mixon at the start of the fourth quarter allowed the Chargers to extend their lead again. It was the sixth turnover of the game.

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Los Angeles Chargers lose star DE Joey Bosa in second half with potential head injury



Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, long considered the best defender on the team, left the game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.

Bosa was being evaluated for a head injury he suffered in the second half as the Chargers attempted to hold off a Bengals’ rally.

Bosa has battled injuries through much of his career, and usually plays through them. This one was a different story, and the Chargers defense struggled in the third quarter without him.

This season, the 6-foot-6, 280-pound Bosa has 36 solo tackles and 19 assists to go along with 7.5 sacks. In his absence, Kyler Fackrel took over. No further word on Bosa was immediately available.

The Chargers, at one point up 24-0 over the Bengals, saw their lead shrink to 24-22 in the third.

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