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Game balls | Three standouts from Washington's Week 9 win


The Washington Commanders got November started on a high with a 20-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Quarterback **Sam Howell,** defensive back **Quan Martin** and wide receiver **Jahan Dotson** came up clutch in the Week 9 win.

Sam Howell

The praise came flying after Washington's win at Gillette Stadium yesterday. Teammate **Jon Allen** called the young signal caller "our future," while coach **Ron Rivera** said Howell "led them to the victory."

The proof for those compliments was in the pudding. Sam Howell had one of his best performances in burgundy and gold on Sunday, completing 29-of-49 passes for 325 yards.

It was the second consecutive game that Howell passed for more than 300 yards and in posting that stat yesterday, he officially eclipsed 2,500 career passing yards. He is just the 12th quarterback all-time to surpass that milestone in ten or less career games and the first to do so since Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert in 2020. This morning, he sits second in the league in passing yards ahead of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts.

The productivity Howell achieved in Week 9 was due to a combination of factors, many of which are skills he has been working on improving all season. He made quick decisions, spread the ball to multiple receivers, showed his toughness and flexed his athleticism (a run on third-and-23 in the second quarter was the longest of his career). And in what was a huge testament to his growth, he didn't let mistakes -- namely the interception right before the first half -- throw a wrench into his overall play and demonstrated resilience bouncing back.

After heating up against the Eagles, it seems safe to say that, right now, Howell is on fire.

Quan Martin

The heart rate of everyone at Gilette Stadium and in front of TV screens watching yesterday's game was undoubtedly escalating as seconds ticked off the clock around the two-minute warning. The Commanders led by just three points, and the Patriots were marching at a steady clip down the field after starting at their own nine-yard line.

Just when it looked like the drive might die, New England quarterback Mac Jones was able to find JuJu Smith-Schuster who made an impressive low catch to give New England new life and a first down. After that play, with 44 seconds to go, Jones didn't need to do much to get his team in a decent spot to tie the game with a field goal. He had a fresh set of downs on his side, and the Patriots were less than 10 yards out from putting kicker Chad Ryland in his career-long 51-yard field goal range.

Here's where Martin came in to spoil the show. Jones threw a pass intended for Smith-Schuster again, but Kendall Fuller tipped it, allowing Martin catch it with 33 seconds to go. Hope for the Patriots was extinguished in an instant as evidenced by a distraught-looking Jones, who couldn't help but put his hands on his helmet. 

A game-sealing interception? Not bad for Martin's first career pick.

Jahan Dotson

Not unlike his quarterback, Dotson has had a very solid last two games, notching 12 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles last week and Patriots this past Sunday, respectively.

As for yesterday's matchup, Dotson came alive in the second quarter. A short three-yard gain early in the second set up **Brian Robinson Jr.** for his nine-yard rush into the end zone and the Commanders first touchdown of the game. About four minutes later, the 2022 first-round draft pick followed that up by doing well to open space to sideline and hauling in a 24-yard catch from Howell.

But Dotson's pièce de résistance came in the third quarter in what was arguably the biggest highlight of the game. About halfway through the quarter and with Washington down by a touchdown, Dotson beat his defender one-on-one, did well to follow the flight of the ball over his shoulder and caught it in-stride in the end zone (credit to Howell again as well). According to Next Gen Stats, the completion probability of the 33-yard touchdown was just 17.1%.

The Commanders tied it up shortly after and, well, the rest is 2023 Week 9 NFL history.

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