From the moment Ray-Ray McCloud touched the ball on a jet sweep at the San Francisco 49ers' 29-yard line, it was clear that he was headed for the end zone.
The 49ers, who had just stopped the Washington Commanders from scoring at the 1-yard line, wasted little time in putting their first points on the board after the turnover on downs. The 99-yard ensuing drive, the first of that length for the 49ers since 2002, lasted just seven plays.
The Commanders had done solid work of containing the 49ers up to that point, but Darrick Forrest was out of position on the McCloud run. Not even one person can be out of place against a team of the 49ers' caliber, though, and that was much of the story for Washington in the 37-20 defeat.
For Washington (7-7-1), small mistakes and a failure to capitalize on opportunities piled up, which has been the case all month for the team. While there were some bright spots, such as Jahan Dotson grabbing his seventh touchdown of the season and having an all-around impressive afternoon with six catches for 76 yards, there were other frustrating and head scratching moments that led to the Commanders' downfall.
The Washington Commanders are on the field warming up for their Week 16 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. (Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)
The failure to finish a 17-play drive in the end zone was the start, but there was also the decision to go for it at the Commanders' 30-yard line, which ultimately was ruled short. Then, there was the unnecessary roughness call after a third-quarter kickoff that set up the 49ers at the 40-yard line.
Adding to all that frustration was the fact that Washington held its own against one of the best teams in the league for some time.
After the Commanders were forced to punt on a drive that started at their 40-yard line, they were gifted with another possession one play later when Forrest grabbed his fourth interception on a pass that Jauan Jennings could not bring in himself. Curtis Samuel got the Commanders inside the 10-yard line with a 14-yard reception, and Dotson finished off the drive with a four-yard score.
With the score tied 7-7 coming out of halftime, the 49ers' offense began to show why they are so formidable. Brock Purdy methodically moved his unit downfield, and on a third-and-4 at the Commanders' 34-yard line, he delivered a shot to George Kittle for the score.
Kittle got in the end zone again later in the third quarter. Two plays after the Commanders' failed fourth-down conversion attempt, Kittle weaved his way through Washington's secondary for his fourth touchdown in two games.
Washington was not done yet, though. It needed to get points on the board after falling to a two-score deficit, and with help from Terry McLaurin, it got exactly that. McLaurin brought in a 51-yard bomb that put the Commanders' offense at the 49ers' 6-yard line, and two plays later, McLaurin, who had three catches for 68 yards, finished things with a three-yard score.
But after that brief spark of life, things began to fall apart for the Commanders again. Washington committed back-to-back turnovers -- a fumble and an interception by Taylor Heinicke -- and the 49ers turned that into two field goals, making the score 30-14 in the fourth quarter.
That is when Carson Wentz took over for the final nine minutes of regulation. He did manage to get the offense in the end zone, but it only made a dent in the 49ers lead. San Francisco was able to bleed to clock for their eighth consecutive win.