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5 takeaways from Washington's tie against New York

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The Washington Commanders took on the New York Giants in a critical NFC East matchup but left MetLife Stadium with a 20-20 tie. Here are five takeaways from the game, presented by the Inaugural Washington Commanders Fan Cruise.

1. Washington took advantage of early opportunities.

It has been the formula for Washington over the past two months: run the ball, play good defense and take advantage of the opponents' mistakes. For the first quarter, just as they have done since Week 6, the Commanders did all three.

It started with a fumble from the Giants on their opening drive. Jonathan Allen ripped the ball away from Daniel Jones on a quarterback run, setting the Commanders up inside New York territory. A 16-yard run by Brian Robinson helped get the offense in the red zone, and while the unit could not punch it in from the 3-yard line, it did finish things off with a field goal.

The other part of Washington's winning formula involves getting the ball into Terry McLaurin's hands as much as possible, and after a sack from Daron Payne contributed to a Giants three-and-out, McLaurin showed why that is such a smart idea. McLaurin broke a tackle attempt by Fabian Moreau and scored his first touchdown since Week 7.

Washington had the start it needed against the Giants. However, there was a problem…

Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders taking on the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 13. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

2. Washington had no answer for Daniel Jones.

It seems Jones manages to have his best games against Washington for whatever reason, and it was true once again on Sunday.

The Commanders' pass rush did a good job of attacking Jones in the pocket, but there was not much coverage behind it. That was something Jones was repeatedly able to exploit, and he often found receivers in the middle of the field, which led to yards after the catch that piled up over the course of the game.

In fact, Daniel Jones did not have an incomplete pass until the fourth quarter. Had he not spiked the ball on the final drive of the first half, he would have been perfect in the first two quarters of action.

His ability to scramble was also a problem for the Commanders. On the touchdown drive that put the Giants up, 20-13, for example, Jones was bottled up in the backfield but managed to avoid Washington defenders on his way to securing the conversion. Jones threw his lone touchdown pass moments later.

It should be noted that Washington was able to force incompletions when it was in desperate need of them. While one was a lucky drop, the secondary held its own long enough to give the offense one last chance to win in regulation. Still, Washington will need to find an answer for Jones over the next two weeks.

3. There was some last-minute heroics…

Washington has given itself a chance to win games late with its formula over the past eight weeks, and it works out for the most part. It did so once again on the Commanders' last gasp effort in regulation.

There were less than four minutes left, and Washington somehow needed to figure out how to spark its offense that had done next to nothing outside of the first quarter. On fourth-and-4, it finally happened; Heinicke scrambled to his left and found Curtis Samuel streaking across the field. Samuel hauled it in for a 20-yard gain, putting the offense into Giants' territory.

That was trumped by what happened next. Jahan Dotson, who had been quiet since his return from a hamstring injury, secured his third catch of the afternoon, spun past a Giants defender and raced his way into the end zone. Joey Slye made the clutch extra point to tie the game.

The burst of production should have come earlier, but it has been Washington's mantra to make plays when they count the most. And while no one likes a tie, the outlook would have been much worse for Washington if Heinicke and the offense had come up short in that moment.

4. …But Washington could not close it out.

Despite all the miscues, errors and gaffes that plagued Washington all afternoon, the team had three chances to come out of MetLife Stadium with a win. It failed to do so on all three attempts.

The first would have eliminated the need for overtime all together. The defense forced a critical three-and-out, leaving Washington just over a minute left with all three timeouts. Washington made some traction toward what would have been the game-winning field goal, but it was forced to give the ball back to the Giants, who bled the final ticks off the clock.

The next came after the defense forced the Giants' offense off the field on the opening possession of overtime. Once again, Washington made some effort to get Slye in range, but the drive also faltered after a handful of plays.

The defense repeated its effort on the ensuing Giants drive, but this time, Washington's hopes had dwindled at the start of its next possession. Heinicke took a hard sack at the 2-yard line with the only consolation being that he held onto the ball. At that point, Washington was playing for the tie, hoping to take as much time off the clock.

Fortunately, it worked. The Giants' 58-yard attempt to win fell short, which is one of the positives from the nine-minute extra quarter. However, it is understandable that the players were frustrated in the locker room, because the outcome was completely in their control.

5. The rematch will be massive.

Nothing really changes for the Commanders over the next two weeks. They still control their own destiny as long as they continue to win. The tie does raise the stakes for them when the Giants come to FedExField in two weeks, though.

It will be Week 15 when the Commanders play again, and with three of their next four games against NFC opponents, the margin for error is miniscule. Washington and New York could have the same record by then, and with the playoff race tightening, a loss could upend either team's playoff hopes.

Jonathan Allen said it best in the Giants visiting locker room: Washington needs the fans to show up in two weeks. They will be a valuable advantage in the rematch, and should things be as close as they were on Sunday, the Commanders will need all the help they can get.

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