Commanders Playoff Hopes Dashed By The Browns (1-1-23)
By: Robb Johnson
Headline Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA Today
We walk into week 17 with two understandings about the Browns and the Commanders. The first thing is that the Browns are building for next year. Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been back from his suspension for a few games now. He is looking to build team chemistry along with getting his grips on the team concept heading into 2023 where he will have a full offseason to get back to being a top-five quarterback.
On the other hand, we have the Washington Commanders desperately looking for a win to get closer to locking up a playoff spot. Carson Wentz is back in a starting role, he has not played since his injury at Chicago. Wentz came into the game in relief of a struggling Taylor Heinicke in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers last week.
The Commanders are looking to make some noise and make the playoff, although they were not favored to do so before the season. One of the big reasons for their success is the play of rookie Brian Robinson who has 710 rushing yards on the season on only 181 carries with two touchdowns after an off-season shooting. The Commanders also got back their top-five pick in Chase Young who is looking to get back to life hard for opposing quarterbacks.
The Commanders’ key to success during today’s game is not turning the ball over, getting the ball to Terry McLaurin, and stopping the run of the Browns.
The question is were the Commanders able to stay in control of their destiny and win this critical game against the Browns? The answer was ultimately no as Wentz tossed three horrible interceptions, while Watson showed his top-five ability again by throwing for three scores including two to a hobbled Amari Cooper, the Browns won and take down the Commanders’ playoff hopes by the score of 24-10.
The Commanders’ defense came to play on the first drive for the Browns sacking Watson and causing havoc leading to a punt.
On the Commanders’ first possession, Wentz got back to his turnover ways throwing an easy interception to Denzel Ward while targeting McLaurin. The Browns received the ball in Commander’s territory however Watson could not convert. The Browns had to settle for a field goal, putting them up 3-0 with 9:22 to go in the first quarter.
On the Commander’s second possession they went for it on fourth and one. The Browns were able to stop the Commanders and push them back two yards. Cleveland got the ball on their own 42.
On the next Browns possession, Nick Chubb ran off for 35 taking his total to 65 yards at the point leading to a first and goal. The Browns were not able to take advantage, their offense stalled out, leading to another field goal.
The Browns led to a field goal from 25 yards out, however, the Commanders were offside, pushing the ball to the third-yard line prompting the Browns to bring the offense back on the field. Watson took the snap for the draw and was stopped. The Commanders took over heading into the second quarter.
The Commanders fans at this point are screaming for Heinicke, Wentz after this threw another interception. The Browns took over at their 48-yard line just a few minutes into the second quarter.
The Browns’ possession was empty, they punted the ball pinning the Commanders deep in their territory at the four-yard line.
The Commanders went on an eleven-minute plus drive, Wentz scored from the one-yard line on a QB sneak. The Commanders took a 7-3 lead into halftime.
The Commanders’ first possession was empty, on the Browns’ possession to that point Watson only had 30 yards passing with 10:03 left in the third quarter. Watson changed that with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Cooper who took a short throw and turned upfield after breaking a tackle, the Browns led 10-7.
On the next Commanders’ possession Myles Garrett put the drive to bed with a nasty sack of Wentz, the Commanders punted the ball to the Browns deep in their territory. Watson connected with Cooper again on the next drive for 26-yards. This put the Browns in a prime position for a field goal or touchdown.
After a loss by Kareem Hunt and a penalty, the Browns faced a second and eighteen, Watson completed a 21-yard pass to David Njoku giving the Browns another first down. The Browns then faced a third and nine from the Commanders’ 13-yard line. Watson completed a thirteen-yard pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones for the touchdown with under a minute to go in the third quarter, and the Browns led 17-7.
Heading into the final stanza the Commanders needed to make something happen, Wentz was able to make some plays on the drive to McLaurin and Samuel, however, they had to settle for the field goal. Kicker Joey Slye connected on a 46-yard field goal bringing the score to 17-10 Browns with 10:26 to go in the fourth quarter.
On the next Browns possession, Watson showed off his wheels by scampering for 20-plus yards. The Browns faced a third and eight from their own 48, Washington committed a penalty making it third and three. Watson ran for three yards on the play, and Jacoby Brissett came in, sneaking for one yard to get the first down.
After a few plays Watson connected with Cooper again this time for 33 yards, the Browns went 75-yards in just over five minutes to take a 24-10 lead with 5:21 left in the game.
The Commanders faced a fourth and three, the pass was completed to Samuel. Wentz then threw his third interception of the game. Putting the nail in the Commander’s chances of coming back and possibly their playoff hopes.
Update on this article, due to a Packers victory the Commanders have been eliminated from the playoffs.