Washington put the "L" in the ATL this afternoon at FedExField, beating the Atlanta Falcons, 19-13, for its third win in a row. Cornerback Kendall Fuller, defensive tackle Daron Payne and Brian Robinson Jr. turned up to make big plays and lift the Commanders to victory.
For about 59 minutes of football today, Kendall Fuller did his job cleanly and effectively without drawing much attention. Then without about a minute to go in the contest, the cornerback showed up for a play to decide the game.
The Commanders were up by six points with time winding down in the fourth quarter but had a lot of work still to do, as the Falcons continued to eat into Washington territory on what looked to be their final drive. The nerviness of the situation for the home team increased when, with a 1:10 left and Atlanta in the red zone, Washington's defense gave up a penalty that gifted the Falcons a fresh set of downs at the 2-yard line.
With 1:03 to go, Marcus Mariota dropped back and threw a pass intended for Cordarrelle Patterson. Payne tipped the ball mid-air, and Fuller dove through a small gaggle of defenders to catch the ball. That interception effectively won the game for Washington, as it was able to leisurely work the clock in its favor and finish off the game with an eventual Taylor Heinicke kneel.
Brian Robinson Jr.
Brian Robinson's teammate Jonathan Williams perhaps summed it up best when talking about the rookie running back's talents after today's win.
"I don't know when his birthday is, but on that day, God gave him strength," Williams said.
Robinson showcased that strength all over the field today with his 20 total touches on the ball. Whether the ball was handed off or passed to him, Robinson repeatedly demonstrated his remarkable ability to dig his feet in and get yards despite defenders hanging on him or blocking his channels.
The Commanders' first touchdown of the game perfectly highlighted Robinson's skill. On Washington's first drive of the game, Robinson caught a pass from Heinicke and found a defender standing in between him and the end zone. The running back lowered his head, trucked the guy in front of him and extended his hand to get the first receiving touchdown of his career.
For the first time in his career, Robinson eclipsed 100 rushing yards and underscored why he is one of the Commanders most compelling and productive offensive threats.
Another win, another commanding performance by Washington's defensive line. As has been the case the last several weeks, Payne was a huge part of the unit's impressive display against the Falcons.
In the fourth quarter, the defensive tackle showed up to stomp out Atlanta's hopes of mounting a comeback. On the Falcons' first drive of the fourth quarter, Payne delivered a huge tackle on Patterson for a two-yard loss, which Sweat followed up on the next play with a Mariota sack. That forced the Falcons to punt, and it was a big momentum boost as the Commanders worked to hold on for the win.
Then, in what was perhaps the most consequential play of the game, Payne got his arm up to tip a Mariota pass that came to fall into Fuller's hands for a last-minute interception. After the game, the defensive tackle offered some insight into his leveled-up play this season that was on display today, saying he is doing what needs to get done in big moments more.
"I feel like I'm capitalizing on more plays. I'm not leaving much on the field this year," Payne said.