The Washington Commanders dropped their fourth division game with a 31-19 loss to the New York Giants. Here are five takeaways from Week 11, presented by Maryland Lottery.
1. The turnovers came early and often.
It's hard to beat an NFL team when you give up one or two turnovers, let alone six. In the case of the Commanders, they wiped away any hopes of coming out with a win almost from the start of the game.
Sam Howell, who threw three interceptions, took his share of the blame. His second pass of the day got picked off on a deep shot to Dyami Brown. He admitted after the game that he had put too much air on it, which made it easy for Nick McCloud to snag it out of the air at the Giants' 13-yard line.
Howell was under pressure on the other two, but they were still ill-advised throws. He threw into double coverage on a pass intended for Jahan Dotson early in the fourth quarter. The Giants turned that into a field goal. He tried throwing it away with the game on the line with less than 30 seconds left, but it didn't have the distance to get out of bounds and was easily picked by Isaiah Simmons, who ran it back for a touchdown.
The three fumbles were the result of players trying to fight for extra yards. Logan Thomas had the ball pop from his grasp after a five-yard gain; Byron Pringle coughed it up while trying to give the Commanders better field position on the opening kickoff of the third quarter; and Chris Rodriguez gave it up after breaking a tackle at the Giants' 35-yard line.
The unfortunate part is that Washington still had a chance to pull out a win after all that. However, considering the Commanders ran 23 more plays than the Giants and had 111 more yards, it shouldn't have come down to the last drive.
Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders' Week 11 matchup with the New York Giants. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)
2. Sacks weren't enough to stop Tommy DeVito.
The Commanders had one of their most successful days rushing the passer in franchise history. They took down Tommy DeVito nine times, which was the most by the team since the 2014 season. Their six in the first half was the most since 1994.
And yet, Tommy DeVito had a career day against the Commanders by going 18-of-26 for 246 and three touchdowns.
When he wasn't under pressure, DeVito picked the Commanders' secondary apart, and it often led to explosive plays. He had five passes go for at least 20 yards, and two of them came back-to-back on the Giants' first scoring drive.
DeVito's longest of the day was a 40-yard bomb to Darius Slayton, who was wide open near the left sideline and finished the play in the end zone. The same thing happened on the opening play of the fourth quarter with Daniel Bellinger, although the Commanders managed to get him out of bounds for a 26-yard gain. They scored three plays later.
DeVito had just 86 yards in last week's loss to the Cowboys. He easily surpassed that number in the first quarter. So, while the sacks were great, they didn't mean much with DeVito facing little resistance in the secondary.
3. The run defense ran out of steam in the second half.
With 42 seconds left in the third quarter, the Giants had zero rushing yards for the entire game, marking a first for the franchise in its nine decades of existence.
On the first play of the Giants' drive after Rodriguez's fumble, Saquon Barkley finally broke loose on the outside for a 36-yard gain. It was the spark New York needed to put the game away.
The Giants had barely tried to run the ball until the final 16 minutes of regulation, but once they found something that worked -- attacking the edges of the Commanders' defense -- they repeatedly went back to that play. Barkley, who finished the game with 83 yards on 13 carries, also hit a 31-yard run that put the Giants at the Commanders' 18-yard line.
The Giants had 114 yards on their final two scoring drives; nearly all of it -- 83 yards, to be precise -- came on the ground.
The Commanders had their moments on defense, and for about three quarters, despite the explosive plays, the unit did try to put the team in position to win. But just as it has been all season, consistency was an obstacle they failed to overcome.
4. Pressure was still a problem for the offense.
It was hardly the offense's biggest problem on Sunday, but giving up pressure to the Giants' defensive front added to the headaches.
Granted, Howell was better at avoiding Giants defenders in the backfield compared to the previous matchup. He was more mobile in the pocket and even scrambled to score the Commanders' first touchdown of the day.
He was still sacked four times, though, and they came at less-than-ideal spots in the game. With the Commanders facing third-and-8, Howell was taken down for an eight-yard loss. Adding to that frustration was that the defense had just forced a turnover on downs, giving Washington a chance at taking the lead.
Then there was one at the end of the first half. Howell was sacked by Kayvon Thibodeaux on second-and-12, pushing the offense back from the 39-yard line to the 31 and essentially removing any chance Washington had of putting points on the board before the end of the second quarter.
Washington was able to overcome the last two, which came on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter. They weren't enough to stop the Commanders from scoring on a 12-play drive, but they did take valuable seconds off the clock that would have been useful on their last drive.
5. What's next.
As Ron Rivera said after the game, the loss to the Giants is a "low point" for the team. The Commanders don't have much time to commiserate over what they could have done differently, though, because they have several playoff contenders up next on the schedule.
Up first are the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, who have won four of their last five and are undefeated at home. What's more, the Cowboys have had their way with opponents at AT&T Stadium, outscoring them 160-50.
The Cowboys also have a top 10 offense and defense heading into the Thursday matchup, making it one of the Commanders' most daunting tasks so far this season. Four days isn't much time to prepare for such a team, but the players want to have the mindset of putting Sunday's game behind them.
"We've got to take it and take it one day at a time, do everything we can to prepare ourselves for the game on Thursday. Go out there and give it our best shot," Howell said.