The Washington Commanders had a great opportunity to cement themselves as a legit playoff contender in the NFC this season in Week 13 against their division rival in the New York Giants. Instead, the two sides reached a stalemate, and it resulted in both teams walking away with a tie, as the final score settled in at 20-20.
It was a strange game all around (as is the case with pretty much any tie in the NFL) but this felt like a big missed opportunity for Washington. Still, not all was bad, because while they didn’t win, they didn’t lose either. So with this result in the books, let’s look back at the action for Washington and hand out some final grades.
The Commanders passing attack has looked a lot better with Taylor Heinicke leading the way rather than Carson Wentz, and that was the case once again this one. Heinicke had a strong outing in this one (27/41, 275 YDS, 2 TD), and he was in sync with his top trio of Terry McLaurin (8 REC, 105 YDS, 1 TD), Curtis Samuel (6 REC, 63 YDS), and Jahan Dotson (5 REC, 54 YDS, 1 TD) all day long.
The problem is that Heinicke was under siege all day, as he was sacked five times (one of which resulted in a fumble from Heinicke), and the offense fell apart in overtime when all they needed was a field goal to win. That doesn’t all fall on Heinicke’s shoulders, but this unit missed a great opportunity to give Washington a much needed win, which drops the grade here ever so slightly.
Washington’s ground game has really come into its own in recent weeks with Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson leading the way, and they put together a strong outing once again against the Giants. Robinson seems to be taking over the lead role if he hasn’t already (21 CAR, 96 YDS) while Gibson finds himself in a more complementary role (9 CAR, 39 YDS).
The ground game as a whole picked up 166 yards on 36 carries, which is good for a healthy 4.6 yards per carry. It would probably be better to keep a more even split between Robinson and Gibson, as both have been effective, but whichever way you cut it, the pair are a solid duo. They were also part of the offensive collapse at the end, but not as much as the passing attack was, so it doesn’t hurt their grade too badly.
Daniel Jones isn’t the most intimidating quarterback in the league, but he’s been getting the job done for the most part this season. Jones was efficient when he threw the football in this one (25/31, 200 YDS, 1 TD) but the Commanders were more than happy to let him rack up short completions on underneath routes.
The Commanders defense tightened up in overtime to help salvage a tie, and they did a good job keeping Jones uncomfortable under center all day long, as he was sacked four times on the day. Darius Slayton (6 REC, 90 YDS) and Isaiah Hodgins (5 REC, 44 YDS, 1 TD) had big days, but Washington did enough to slow down the Giants passing attack in this contest.
The Giants ground game has powered their offense all season long, which makes a lot of sense considering they are led by one of the top running backs in the league in Saquon Barkley. But for the most part, Washington kept Barkley quiet in this one (18 CAR, 63 YDS, 1 TD) and it was clear their goal was to force Jones to find a way to win this game on his own.
As we saw above, Jones wasn’t exactly fantastic in the air, but he made a big impact on the ground, picking up 71 yards on 12 carries. Jones did fumble early on in the day on a run, but his impact helped make up for the fact that Barkley was kept in check for most of the day. These two guys were the only two to get carries on the day, and their ability to keep the chains moving hurt the Commanders defense in this one.
Special teams were a big part of this game for both sides. Tress Way had a huge day punting, as four of his six punts landed inside the 20-yard line. The Commanders field goal block unit also forced Graham Gano to miss a game-winning 58-yard field goal at the end of overtime to seal the tie. But Joey Slye missed a 52-yarder in the fourth quarter that could have prevented this game from going to overtime in the first place, lowering the grade significantly here.
This wasn’t Ron Rivera’s greatest game, as the Commanders probably should have ended up winning this game. There were questionable play calls late in the game, especially in overtime, and Washington controlled the proceedings in the first half of the game but still saw the score tied at 13 at halftime. This would have been a huge win for Washington, but their coaching wasn’t great in this one.
Overall Commanders Grade: B-
The Commanders had their chances to win this game, and their failure to do so could come back to bite them in the NFC playoff race. They will have a bye week in Week 14 before facing off against the Giants again in Week 15, and that could end up being an even more important game than this one was. And Washington would be wise to do what they can to avoid suffering the same fate as they did here.