EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After a promising start with wins over Arizona and Denver, the Washington Commanders’ season is slipping away with losses in four of the last five games.
The latest defeat was hard to swallow. Ron Rivera’s team was beaten 14-7 Sunday by the offensively challenged Giants in a game that snapped New York’s four-game losing streak.
This one was winnable for the Commanders. They were facing a team that had not scored an offensive touchdown in more than three games. The Giants were last in the league in scoring, averaging 11.8 points.
So what happened? Backup Tyrod Taylor threw two second-quarter touchdowns — New York’s first two offensive first-half TDs of the season — and it was enough to beat the Commanders (3-4) behind a big effort from the Giants’ defense.
“Another game I felt like we should’ve won, and I feel like we were the better team, but we didn’t play that way today,” said Washington quarterback Sam Howell, who finished 22-for-42 for 249 yards.
Washington’s offense was so bad — it was 1-for-15 on third down — that its only score was a 21-yard drive that started after Giants returner Sterling Shepard muffed a punt early in the second half. Dyami Brown recovered, and Brian Robinson Jr. scored on a 4-yard run six plays later.
Washington had to convert a fourth-and-1 to keep the so-called drive alive.
Commanders coach Ron Rivera refused to say the season was slipping away.
“To me, it’s really about how you bounce back more than it is anything else,” he said. “But, with 10 games left to go, you never know what’s going to happen. You have to take them one at a time; you’ve got to stay focused on it. We’ll correct these things. There’s a lot of things that we can correct.”
The Commanders came into the game having given up 34 sacks, and the Giants got six more and 12 quarterback hits.
“We didn’t really execute like we needed to, especially in the first half,” said Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who had all six of his receptions for 90 yards in the second half. “You can’t let a team blitz your face off, and we didn’t really have a lot of answers for that. We prepared, but we didn’t execute like we tried to prepare for this week.”
Still, the Commanders had a chance late after Saquon Barkley’s fumble was recovered by Daron Payne at the Washington 8 with 7:46 to play.
Howell led Washington on a 17-play, 85-yard drive that included six first downs. The march led to a first-and-10 at the New York 12, but after three plays gained 5 yards, Howell’s fourth-down pass to Jahan Dotson was a little behind him and fell incomplete.
Howell said he had to throw a better ball.
“A ball that I catch nine out of 10 times,” Dotson said. “Didn’t come up with it. I’m going to let it hurt. I’m going to feel this one, especially in a crucial moment in the game like that. I’m going to learn from it and not make that mistake again.”
The loss dropped the Commanders to 0-2 in the NFC East, and they have a home game next Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, who beat them 34-31 earlier.
Washington also has another game with the Giants, two with Dallas and one apiece with Seattle, Miami and San Francisco. Not an easy schedule.
“I don’t like losing either, especially within the division; being down 0-2 within the division is tough because to make the playoffs, to get to the goals that you want to get to, you have to be successful in the division, and right now we are not getting it done,” McLaurin said.
The bottom line is the Commanders have to fix things soon or they — like the Giants — are in for a long season.