Washington’s 34-30 win in Atlanta was far from impressive, but felt like another life-saving win for the season.

Why is 2-2 so much more than just a game better than 1-3? Washington’s 34-30 win in Atlanta was far from impressive, but felt like another life-saving win for the season. Were things pretty? Far from there. As is the case with most 2-2 teams, there was enough Sunday to be excited, while still being enough to make one wonder how Burgundy and Gold can find their way back to the playoffs. playoffs.



Tailored : Quarterback Taylor Heinicke had 290 yards and three touchdowns, including a pair in the last four minutes of rule. He was the team’s second rusher, gaining 43 yards on five downs. After four weeks, his passer rating is 105.9, and even in today’s friendly NFL that’s pretty impressive.

Support the load: Antonio Gibson (14 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown) and JD McKissic (15 yards on seven carries plus five catches for 44 yards and the winning touchdown) provide a nice 1-2 combo. After four games, the running offense (103.3 yards per game) ranks 18th in the NFL, better than last year.

Go catch the fever: Terry McLaurin caught six passes for 123 yards and one touchdown, which you’ll see when there is another threat by the name of Curtis Samuel (four catches on four targets). Tight end Lane Thomas is now week-to-week with hamstring issues, but Ricky Seals-Jones came off the bench to make a pair of receptions.

Third and intermediate: The offense moved the chains on 4 out of 9 occasions, with nine assists. Taylor Heinicke completed 5 of 8 passes (four conversions) while pushing past the scorer. His first target? Running back JD McKissic (two conversions out of three captures / targets). Distribution of distances: 1-3 over short distances, 0-2 over four to six yards required, 3-4 over long distances.

D wins a: The much-maligned defense allowed 30 or more points for the second straight week and entered Monday 29 in yards against and 30 in points surrendered. Linebacker Cole Holcomb led the team with nine tackles while lineman Jonathan Allen added eight saves. The Falcons converted 10 of 16 third downs. (Washington is now 59.7% compliant to rank 32nd in the NFL) and has scored three of its four touchdowns on lost money. But credit the defense for forcing nine third and long (7+ yards needed) situations. So there’s progress… at least until they’re exposed so they don’t have linebacker Jon Bostic (pectoral injury) on the pitch this fall.

Special situations: DeAndre Carter’s 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the kind of thing one expected when he landed the role. Carter also got a six-yard punt return. Tress Way averaged 42 yards per punt while Dustin Hopkins kicked a 21 yard field goal. He also missed a pair of extra runs and had three of his seven kickoffs. But head coach Ron Rivera says he’s the team’s kicker.

Flying flags: Six penalties for 85 yards give the team 28 yards for the season (7th most per game). Three came against defense while two were on offense and the other was on special teams. Two pass interference and two false starts were announced. (DPI is the team leader with six after four weeks). William Jackson III was called for his fourth pass interference while Chase Young drew his approximate second flag (Young also has a pair of neutral zone infractions). The most expensive flag? Young’s brutal call turned what was a failed fourth attempt (and Washington’s possession) in their 42nd into 1st and 10 for the Falcons in 27th. They scored a touchdown four games later and took a 30-22 lead.

Digestion of the division: Dallas (3-1) holds the first place and after four weeks holds the second best record in the NFC. Second place Washington (2-2) would make the playoffs as the fourth Wild Card thanks to a better conference record than the other four teams with the same record. Philadelphia (1-3) has the tiebreaker of common opponents against the New York Giants who are 15th in the NFC (thank goodness for Detroit).

West is the best: NFC and AFC West are each at 11-5 after four weeks, while NFC East is on track to surpass last year’s 23 wins in Week 13. Woe to AFC South, which is a combined 4-12 and has three teams that have the early feel of 2-14 in them. The NFC has an early 11-9 advantage (remember with one extra non-conference game there will be 48 this year).


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