Dec 4, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown against the Washington Commanders during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Giants tie Commanders as Graham Gano’s 58-yard FG fall short

Taylor Heinicke threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Jahan Dotson with 1:45 left in regulation and neither squad scored in overtime as the Washington Commanders played to a 20-20 tie with the New York Giants on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.

In the 10-minute overtime session, both teams punted twice. The Giants had a chance to win on the final play but Graham Gano’s 58-yard field goal attempt came up short.

In a game that was evenly-played throughout, Washington (7-5-1) kept pace with New York (7-4-1) in their battle to reach the playoffs.

The Giants were up 20-13 in the closing minutes of regulation before Heinicke directed a 90-yard drive, which included a conversion of a fourth-and-4 play as he scrambled away from pressure and threw on the run, completing a 20-yard pass to Curtis Samuel.

Heinicke completed 27 of 41 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Brian Robinson ran 21 times for 96 yards and Terry McLaurin caught eight passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.

Daniel Jones, who entered the game 4-1 against Washington, completed 25 of 31 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 12 times for 71 yards.

Saquon Barkley rushed 18 times for 63 yards and a touchdown but Washington stuffed him in the second half.

New York welcomed six starters back to the lineup and one of them, linebacker Azeez Ojulari, made a critical play when he forced and recovered a fumble by Heinicke at the Commanders 20-yard line early in the second half.

The play set up a 6-yard touchdown pass, Jones to Isaiah Hodgins, which put New York up for the first time, 20-13. It remained that way until Heinicke’s heroics.

The teams played to a 13-13 standoff in the first half.

The Commanders took an early 10-0 lead as Heinicke avoided a heavy rush and flipped a sidearm pass to McLaurin, who made a one-handed catch behind his back, shed a tackler and jogged into the end zone on a 19-yard touchdown play.

But Jones rallied the Giants with a 21-yard scramble which set up a 48-yard Gano field goal. Then Jones hooked up with Darius Slayton on a 55-yard bomb, leading to a 13-yard touchdown burst by Barkley.

— Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay (19) reacts during the second half against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Giants WR Kenny Golladay (illness) out vs. Commanders

New York Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay will miss Sunday’s NFC East showdown against the visiting Washington Commanders due to an illness.

Commanders defensive end Chase Young also is inactive and will not make his season debut in East Rutherford, N.J., as he continues to recover from a torn ACL.

Also inactive for the Giants (7-4) are cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Darnay Holmes, guards Shane Lemieux and Joshua Ezedu, tight end Lawrence Cager and linebacker Elerson Smith.

Also sitting this one out for the Commanders (7-5) are wide receiver Dax Milne, cornerback Benjamin St-Juste, linebacker De’Jon Harris and guards Chris Paul and Trai Turner.

–Field Level Media

Nov 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) throws the ball against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of the game between the Cowboys and the Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff implications surround meeting between Giants, Commanders

As they jockey for spots in the playoffs, the New York Giants and Washington Commanders have the unusual assignment of facing each other in Weeks 13 and 15. The first of those meetings comes Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.

It’s a schedule that sets up well for the Commanders. As for the Giants? Not so much.

Making it tougher for New York is what happens in Week 14. While the Giants face the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles, the Commanders have the week off to rest and prepare for the rematch.

It’s a difficult slate for New York (7-4) considering the challenge presented by onrushing Washington (7-5), which has won six of its last seven games.

In making their playoff push, the Commanders have relied on a formula similar to that used by the Giants in winning six of their first seven games — defense, ball control and forcing more turnovers than they commit.

In going 6-1, Washington has a plus-seven turnover margin. In losing four of their first five games, the Commanders’ margin was minus-seven.

Helping facilitate the low-risk offense has been the Commanders’ increasingly productive running game. Last week in a 19-13 win over Atlanta, rookie Brian Robinson Jr. rushed for 105 yards on 18 carries, the most by a Washington back in a game this year.

The previous week, in a 23-10 win at Houston, Antonio Gibson had 103 yards from scrimmage (72 rushing, 31 receiving).

“Those two guys are the kind of tandem that I talked about when I first got here, wanting to be able to emulate what I’ve done in the past,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said. “I really do think being able to run the ball well helps your entire team.”

By contrast, as the Giants have slumped, their running game has become less effective. Over the first nine games, Saquon Barkley had 931 rushing yards (103.4 per game). But in the last two weeks, in losses to Detroit and Dallas, Barkley has gained a combined 61 yards on 26 carries.

Getting Barkley back in the groove won’t be easy against a Washington defense that allows 108.4 rushing yards per game, ranking No. 8 in the NFL. The defense might also have another major piece back, pending the return of former No. 2 overall draft choice Chase Young, who has missed 20 games after surgery to repair a torn ACL.

“They’re good at the run and the pass,” Giants coach Brian Daboll said. “I think having strong fronts, both defense and offensively, is kind of where you want to build your football team, and they certainly have done it.”

Daboll hopes that quarterback Daniel Jones can continue his success against the Commanders. In his four seasons, Jones has twice as many wins (four) as a starter against Washington than any other team. His nine touchdown passes against the Commanders are four more than he has against any other team.

The fade of the Giants has corresponded with a spate of injuries. But Daboll was optimistic about getting several players back this week, including a trio off the injured reserve list — safety Tony Jefferson (foot), guard Ben Bredeson (knee) and linebacker Azeez Ojulari (calf).

Among those held out of practice on Wednesday were wideout Richie James (knee), defensive back Adoree’ Jackson (knee) and offensive lineman Josh Ezeudu (neck). Cornerback Cor’Dale Flott (concussion) was one of eight players limited.

Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste (ankle), guard Trai Turner (knee/ankle) and wideout Dax Milne (foot) were non-participants at Washington’s Wednesday practice. Young and Gibson were limited.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders guard Wes Schweitzer (71) looks on from the sidelines during the second half of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders designate OL Wes Schweitzer for return from IR

The Washington Commanders designated offensive lineman Wes Schweitzer for return from injured reserve on Wednesday.

He has been sidelined since sustaining a concussion in Washington’s 24-8 setback against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 25. He was placed on injured reserve Oct. 1.

Wednesday’s move activates a 21-day window that the Commanders can either activate Schweitzer or shut him down for the season.

Schweitzer, 29, has started 56 of the 75 career games in which he has played with the Atlanta Falcons (2017-19) and Washington.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (84) has his face mask grabbed by Washington Commanders cornerback Christian Holmes (34) while running with the ball during the first quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Defense, run game power Commanders past Falcons

Kendall Fuller intercepted a batted pass in the end zone with 1:03 left to preserve Washington’s 19-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons and continue the Commanders’ playoff drive Sunday in Landover, Md.

With Atlanta threatening to take the lead at the Washington 4-yard line, Daron Payne batted a pass by Marcus Mariota at the line of scrimmage and Fuller came down with the fluttering ball just inside the goal line.

In a close-to-the-vest game played in a steady rain, Taylor Heinicke threw two touchdown passes and Brian Robinson Jr. ran for a career-high 105 yards on 18 carries as Washington (7-5) won for the sixth time in its last seven games.

The Commanders relied on their defense and a conservative game plan that included 37 rushes and 23 passes. The defense rose in the second half, limiting Atlanta to three points. Midway through the fourth quarter Montez Sweat wrecked another Atlanta possession with a sack.

Atlanta (5-7) was led by Mariota, who completed 15 of 25 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. He also ran six times for 49 yards.

Tyler Allgeier carried 11 times for 54 yards and Cordarrelle Patterson added 11 rushes for 52 yards as the Falcons averaged 5.8 yards per attempt.

Mariota triggered the potential game-winning drive when he ducked under pressure from Payne and threw to open receiver Olamide Zaccheaus on a 45-yard play to the Washington 25.

After Fuller’s interception, the Atlanta defense forced an apparent three-and-out. But Adetokunbo Ogundeji was flagged for running into punter Tress Way, ending Atlanta’s hopes.

In the first half, both teams had a field goal and a touchdown for a 10-10 deadlock at the break.

Washington’s touchdown came when Heinicke threw a short pass to Robinson, who powered through tacklers and avoided the sideline on a 14-yard play to give the Commanders a 7-3 lead.

The Falcons regained the edge in the second quarter with a 77-yard march finished off by a 4-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to MyCole Pruitt.

In the third quarter, Washington took the lead with a 60-yard drive that was all on the ground until Heinecke used a play-action fake and found John Bates alone in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown pass.

After Joey Slye missed the extra point, Atlanta cut the deficit in half, 16-13, with a 48-yard field goal from Younghoe Koo.

Washington answered with 9:05 left as Slye made a 45-yard field goal for a 19-13 lead.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Washington Commanders linebacker Cole Holcomb (55) in action during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Commanders AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders place LB Cole Holcomb (foot) on IR

The Washington Commanders placed linebacker Cole Holcomb on injured reserve Friday.

He has missed the last four games with a foot injury and will have to miss at least four more.

Holcomb, 26, won’t be eligible to return to the active roster until the Jan. 1 home game against Cleveland.

Holcomb recorded 69 tackles in seven starts before the injury. The 2019 fifth-round pick has 388 tackles, 4.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and three interceptions in 50 games (40 starts) with Washington.

The Commanders also activated linebacker Milo Eifler from injured reserve. He was placed on IR on Oct. 8 due to a hamstring injury.

Eifler, 24, appeared in the first four games of the season, logging one tackle and playing a total of 75 snaps (69 on special teams).

The Commanders (6-5) have won five of their last six games heading into Sunday’s tilt against the visiting Atlanta Falcons (5-6).

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier (25) runs with the ball against the Chicago Bears at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons, Commanders surprisingly battle for potential playoff position

While the Washington Commanders compete in the winningest division in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons play in the weakest division.

When the teams meet Sunday in Landover, Md., however, they enter in similar circumstances. While Washington (6-5) is a half game out of a wildcard slot in the NFC, Atlanta (5-6) is a half-game behind first-place Tampa Bay in the NFC South.

Both teams are anxious for success. Atlanta is coming off four straight losing seasons. Washington is on a run of five consecutive losing years.

“It’s a big game for both teams,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “When you get into the holiday season you want to be in games that matter.”

The Commanders are on a high having won five of their last six. Four of the wins have been with Taylor Heinicke at quarterback, though the real catalyst for the success has been Washington’s defense.

Linemen Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Montez Sweat — all first-round picks — are each producing at a Pro Bowl level, combining for 19 sacks.

And this week, the Commanders activated defensive end Chase Young, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft, from the physically unable to perform list.

Young, who missed 19 games after sustaining a torn ACL just over a year ago, isn’t certain to play on Sunday. Coach Ron Rivera said Young will be evaluated this week at practice to determine his availability.

“We have to slowly integrate him into it, get him more acclimated to it and when he’s ready to roll, give him an opportunity to gradually increase that number of plays,” Rivera said.

In a 23-10 win last Sunday, Washington dominated host Houston in the first half, getting an early pick-6 from Kendall Fuller and holding the Texans to 5 yards.

On Wednesday, the Commanders designated quarterback Carson Wentz for a return to practice, though he will not be activated this week. Wentz suffered a broken finger in a Week 6 win over Chicago and underwent surgery on Oct. 17.

The Falcons are coming off a 27-24 win at home over the Bears. Atlanta was down 17-7 in the second quarter before Cordarrelle Patterson sparked the rally with a 103-yard kickoff return touchdown.

Marcus Mariota ran for a touchdown and threw for another score as the Falcons won by a margin of four or fewer points for the fourth time this year.

The metrics don’t favor Atlanta. While its defense ranks 30th in the NFL, giving up 389.4 yards per game, the offense ranks No. 26, gaining an average of 313.8 yards.

The Falcons do well in the running game, as they rank No. 3, averaging 159.4 yards per game on the ground using a committee approach with Tyler Allgeier (498 yards, 4.5 per carry), Patterson (454 yards, 5.3 per carry) and Caleb Huntley (335 yards, 4.8 per carry).

The injury news was not good for Atlanta on Wednesday. Tight end Kyle Pitts and defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham, both with knee injuries, will need surgery and will miss at least four games each.

For Washington, cornerback Benjamin St-Juste (ankle) missed practice on Wednesday and linebacker Cole Holcomb (foot), who has been out for a month, remained sidelined.

Wahington rallied at Atlanta in Week 4 last year as Heinicke threw two touchdown passes in the final four minutes of a 34-30 victory.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders’ Carson Wentz designated to return to practice

The Washington Commanders designated quarterback Carson Wentz to return to practice Wednesday.

It remains to be seen whether the veteran has the starting job, however.

Taylor Heinicke has guided Washington (6-5) to a 4-1 record since taking over for Wentz in Week 7.

Wentz, 29, landed on injured reserve on Oct. 22 after fracturing the ring finger on his right (throwing) hand during the Commanders’ Week 6 win at Chicago. The injury required surgery and he wasn’t cleared to throw until last week.

The Commanders now have a 21-day window to add Wentz to the active roster. Head coach Ron Rivera has said the plan is to prepare Wentz to back up Heinicke.

Wentz completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 1,489 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in six starts (2-4 record) this season.

Washington acquired Wentz in a March 9 trade with the Indianapolis Colts. The No. 2 overall pick in 2016, he owns a 46-44-1 record as a starter with 150 touchdown passes for the Philadelphia Eagles (2016-20), Colts and Commanders.

Heinicke, 29, has completed 60.8 percent of his throws for 1,031 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions in five starts heading into Sunday’s game against the visiting Atlanta Falcons (5-6).

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young (99) looks on after the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders activate DE Chase Young from PUP to 53-man roster

The Washington Commanders activated defensive end Chase Young from the physically unable to perform list on Monday.

The return of the former No. 2 overall draft pick has been in the works for some time. Young has not played in more than a year — since injuring his right knee (torn ACL and MCL) on Nov. 14, 2021.

Young was designated to return to practice on Nov. 2, opening a 21-day window for his return to the active roster. There were hopes he would be able to play in Week 10 against the Philadelphia Eagles or Week 11 against the Houston Texans, but the Commanders held off before adding him to the 53-man roster.

Wednesday would have marked the end of the 21-day window, after which Young would have had to move onto season-ending injured reserve.

Coach Ron Rivera did not go as far as to say that Young will play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

“We will work him with the intent that he’s ready to play,” Rivera said. “If he’s not, then we’ll wait another week. He’s ready to go as far as being activated.”

Rivera said the most important thing is to see Young consistently and confidently “cut it loose” during practice.

“We want to make sure he’s confident, no hesitation,” Rivera said. “… You start to see it, especially when he’s not thinking about it. I watch it very closely and every now and then check to make sure it’s fine. We want to make sure because the last thing we want is for him to get back out there and hurt it again.”

Young recorded nine sacks, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 70 total tackles in 24 career games (all starts) over his first two seasons. He was the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year after putting up 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three recoveries.

The Commanders (6-5) are coming off back-to-back wins against the Eagles and Texans and are in the thick of the NFC playoff race entering Sunday’s home game against the Falcons (5-6).

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) is sacked by Washington Commanders defensive end Montez Sweat (90) in the second quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders win as stifling defense holds Texans to 148 yards

Taylor Heinicke passed for 191 yards, Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat combined for four sacks and the visiting Washington Commanders won for the fifth time in six games by smothering the Houston Texans 23-10 on Sunday.

The Commanders (6-5) limited Houston (1-8-1) to 148 total yards and 2.7 yards per play. Behind Allen and Sweat, who produced two sacks apiece, Washington sacked Texans quarterback Davis Mills five times while also recording a pair of interceptions.

Mills did not eclipse 100 passing yards until the fourth quarter and the Texans did not record a touchdown until Mills scrambled for a 4-yard score with 3:19 left to play to cap an 11-play, 55-yard drive. Prior to that last-ditch march, the Commanders were in complete control.

The Texans amassed only five yards on 21 plays in the first half. Mills passed for 22 yards but was sacked three times for 23 yards for minus-1 net passing yards at the intermission. Rookie running back Dameon Pierce had six carries for two yards. Houston recorded one first down.

Mills tossed a pick-6 on the Texans’ second play from scrimmage, with Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller returning a pass intended for Brandin Cooks 37 yards for a score and a 7-0 Washington lead at the 13:16 mark of the first quarter. The Texans totaled minus-4 yards on their next drive.

With the defense dominating, Heinicke needed only to serve as a caretaker on offense. Washington strung together three consecutive scoring drives to close the first half, riding the ground game led by Antonio Gibson, Brian Robinson and Curtis Samuel to a nine-play, 85-yard touchdown drive capped by a 10-yard Samuel run for a 14-0 lead with 11:44 left in the half.

Gibson finished with 72 yards on 18 carries to lead the Commanders.

Joey Slye added field goals of 25 and 24 yards later in the second quarter, the last coming with seven seconds left for a 20-0 lead. The Texans opened the second half with a march into the red zone that included a fourth-down conversion at the Washington 15. But Sweat sacked Mills for a 7-yard loss on third-and-goal, forcing Houston to settle for a 29-yard Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal.

The Texans incurred their fifth consecutive loss and remain winless at home this season.

–Field Level Media