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Instant analysis | Commanders' defense smothers Houston in 23-10 victory


Davis Mill dropped back for a pass against the Washington Commanders in the first quarter, but as he prepared to survey his options, he noticed that left guard Kenyon Green was dropping back with him. 

Or at least it seemed that way. What really happened was that Jonathan Allen was bulldozing the rookie offensive lineman into the backfield to record a sack and force the Texans to punt. 

Mills got used to getting up off the ground against the Commanders. The defense put together a simply dominant performance, recording five sacks on the quarterback and ensuring a convincing 23-10 win. 

Washington (6-5) had proven that it can hang with the best teams in the NFC last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, it faced a new challenge, one that all good teams must face: it needed to regroup and win against an opponent it was expected to beat.

Washington proved that, handily, against the struggling Houston Texans (1-8-1), and put its record above .500 for the first time since Week 1 in doing so.

The Commanders' offense was not always pretty, but it did enough to keep things in control. Taylor Heinicke completed 15-of-27 passes for 191 yards, while the ground game put up 100 rushing yards for the fifth time in six games behind the duo of Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson.

More importantly, Washington did not commit a turnover for the first time since Week 6 against the Chicago Bears and second time all season.

It was the defense, however, that truly shined in the contest, fueled by a defensive line that tied a season high with five sacks. The Commanders held Dameon Pierce, who entered the Week 11 game sixth in rushing yards, to eight yards on six carries. Houston did not have much more success in the air. Mills ended the loss with 169 passing yards.

The Texans were held to a total of 148 net yards, including just five in the first half.

Things started off badly for the Texans on their first drive of the game, as Mills' first pass was intercepted by Kendall Fuller and returned 37 yards for a touchdown -- the first of his career.

It took longer for the Commanders' offense to get going, but it found some rhythm after putting up just five yards on their first two drives. Washington marched 85 yards downfield on nine plays and capped things off with a 10-yard rushing touchdown by Curtis Samuel.

From there, Washington coasted for the rest of the way and put Joey Slye to work. The offense got down to the Texans' 7-yard line on the ensuing drive, getting Slye in range for a 25-yard field. It was much the same on the next drive, but this time, it was a 24-yarder that put Washington up 20-0 with 10 seconds left until halftime.

Houston tried to ignite its offense with a field goal to open the third quarter, which was credited to a 41-yard reception by Brandin Cooks. Washington, however, snuffed it out quickly, though, as Allen enveloped Mills for his second sack.

Later, after Washington had tacked on another field goal, Darrick Forrest grabbed his third interception of the season off a deflected pass from Benjamin St-Juste.

Houston did manage to get in the end zone in the fourth quarter on a four-yard scramble from Mills, but Washington, who leads the league in time of possession, bled the final three minutes after recovering an onside kick and sealed the victory.

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