Showing no signs of a hangover after the Monday night upset over the Philadelphia Eagles, the Washington Commanders dominated from the first whistle to the last in Houston, beating the Houston Texans, 23-10. Cornerback Kendall Fuller, the Commanders defensive line and tight end Logan Thomas impressed and imposed to boost Washington to the win at NRG Stadium.
The seventh-year cornerback set the tone for the Commanders early on. On Houston's first offensive snap, Fuller combined with Kam Curl to wrangle in Texans tight end Jordan Atkins for a Houston completion of no gain.
That play was a sign of what was to come for both Fuller and the Commanders defense as a whole.
On the next play, Fuller astutely read Davis Mills' pass intended for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, picked it off and ran it back 37 yards for the touchdown. The pick six was Washington's first of the season and the first of Fuller's career. The score also marked the first time Washington's defense recorded a touchdown in two-straight since Brian Orakpo had a 29-yard pick six in Week 7 and DeAngelo Hall had a 26-yard pick six.
The unit showed how disruptive it can be in a stunning first half performance in which it shut out the Texans and limited the offense to just five net yards -- the fewest first half yardage allowed by any team in the NFL this season.
The defensive line
Washington's front feasted in the Week 11 win, notching five sacks on Mills. Three of those sacks came from three different players in just about the first 20 minutes of the game.
Jon Allen was responsible for two of those in what was the sixth multi-sack game of his career. In the first quarter, Allen bulldozed Kenyon Green so viciously that he essentially walked the Texan player into his own quarterback for the sack. Then in the third quarter, Allen took down Mills for a 12-yard loss on third down.
Montez Sweat also collected two sacks of his own. In the second quarter, immediately after Daron Payne brought down Mills on second-and-7, Sweat sacked the quarterback on third down. Sweat followed that up in the third quarter with another sack for a seven-yard loss, which kept the Texans out of the end zone and forced them to settle for a field goal.
Sweat's outing was his second multi-sack game of the season and fourth of his career. And with his first takedown, Washington joined Dallas and Tennessee as the only teams to have three or more players with five or more sacks this season barring the results of Week 11.
In addition to his sack, which was 6.5 on the season, Payne was all over the place and got a career-high-tying fourth pass defensed in a single game.
In short, the Sweat-Payne-Allen trio seems to get more terrifying each game.
The seventh-year tight end has not had the smoothest year. During training camp, Thomas was able to return to action following a knee injury suffered during last season. His full comeback, though, was halted by a calf injury that kept him out a handful of weeks.
Thomas trusted the process though, and earlier this week Commanders tight ends coach Juan Castillo noted that Thomas was starting to look like his old self. Against the Texans, he showed that progress and provided a consistent threat at the tight end position that Commanders have not really had all season.
Thomas distanced himself from his defenders, laid out for catches and showed his reliable hands. By the end of the first half, he had four receptions on five targets for 57 yards and finished the game with five for 65 yards -- more than any of the Commanders pass-catchers. When Thomas plays like this, the Commanders can get excited about another dangerous layer of their offense.