The Washington Football Team travelled to Green Bay to take on the Packers in Week 7, and for the second time in two weeks, a solid first half was followed by an unsatisfactory second in a 24-10 loss. Here are five takeaways from the afternoon.
1. Washington had several missed opportunities.
Washington went into halftime facing a 14-7 deficit, but the most frustrating part was that the score could have easily looked much different had it not been for missed opportunities.
After the defense got Aaron Rodgers off the field on a quick three-and-out, Washington had a chance to go up 10-7. Chris Blewitt’s 42-yard attempt, however, was blocked, putting a sour end on a 39-yard drive.
Then, with Washington trailing 21-7 in the third quarter, a supposed touchdown by Heinicke was called back, followed by a turnover on downs inside the 1-yard line.
Washington's offense actually outperformed Green Bay from a statistical standpoint. Finishing drives, however, was a problem that haunted the unit all afternoon.
2. Washington was 0-3 in the red zone.
To that end, Washington had four opportunities to put points on the board in the red zone. It only came away with three points.
The first attempt came on Washington's second drive of the third quarter. Although Washington trailed by two scores, it was still possible for the team to come back. And for a couple minutes it looked like that would be the case as Heinicke got into the end zone.
But then the officials ruled that Heinicke's knee was down short of the goal line, and his ensuing fourth down run was also short.
Next, Washington was at Green Bay's 3-yard line and looking at a 4th-and-2, still down 21-7. Heinicke dropped back and fired to the middle of the field looking for Ricky Seals-Jones, but the pass slipped through Seals-Jones grasp, forcing another turnover on downs.
The final chance came in the fourth quarter after Green Bay went up 24-7. Once again, Washington marched down the field to Green Bay's 12-yard line, but the 65-yard drive was cut short when Chandon Sullivan intercepted Heinicke's pass to Adam Humphries.
Blewitt's 45-yarder did chip away at the lead, but had Washington found a way to finish earlier in the game, it could have given itself a better chance.
3. The defense's improvements weren't enough to stop Green Bay.
The score might not show it, but Washington's defense did have moments where it gave Rodgers and the Green Bay offense fits. Rodgers was sacked three times, and Tim Settle was able to block Crosby's kick that would have put the Packers up 10-7.
But big plays, in addition to a subpar second half, were a problem once again.
Green Bay elected to stay on the field for a 4th-and-3 in the first quarter, and Davante Adams got open for a 17-yard score. Then, after Washington turned the ball over on downs with three minutes left in the second quarter, Green Bay churned out a nine-play, 72-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown to Allen Lazard.
Green Bay scored 10 more points in the second half, both of which came after Washington turnovers. It's another lesson that Washington must play consistent football for an entire afternoon.
4. Green Bay found ways to score when it needed to the most.
As surprising as it might be, there were only three punts in the entire game. That's because both teams were willing to risk putting things in their offense's hands.
The difference was how each team's unit handled those situations. Washington, which didn't punt the ball the entire game, had four fourth down opportunities. It only converted one of them, and that came with 29 seconds left to play, when the outcome was all but decided.
The Packers, meanwhile, found ways to convert when they needed it. The team converted 50% of its third downs, and while it was held to just 24 points, each point scored was a blow to Washington as it failed to finish its drives.
5. Can Washington put things together in Week 8?
Washington is now 2-5 after putting up solid first halves, only to fall short in back-to-back games. Eventually, Washington will need to put together complete games to get back on track.
It's possible that could happen against the Denver Broncos, who are on a four-game losing streak of their own. Once 3-0, the Broncos have slumped with losses to the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns. Its defense continues to be one of the best in the league, while its offense has dipped to around the middle of the league rankings.
Washington was in this situation last year. It was 2-5 last year before starting to turn things around, and there have been moments over the past two weeks where it looked like the team that people expected it to be. The trick is to put everything together consistently, and Ron Rivera believes it can happen.
"I love the fight in these guys," Rivera said. "There's no quit. They played hard, and that's all you can ask for as a coach."
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