Dyami Brown was wide open down the middle of the Chicago Bears' defense and headed for the end zone.
It was exactly the kind of play Washington needed after going down 17-0 against the winless Bears. Sam Howell saw his former North Carolina teammate, reared back and fired the ball from the Bears' 39-yard line. The ball was just out of reach, and it fell to the turf while Brown tumbled in an effort to snag it.
It summed up how the Commanders looked in the first half. They were just...off.
The same could not be said for the Bears, who after dropping a 31-28 collapse against the Denver Broncos, were humming on both sides of the ball. Justin Fields looked as crisp as he's ever looked in his career, the running game gashed the defensive front, and DJ Moore had one of the best performances of his career in a 40-20 loss despite a valiant comeback effort from Washington.
After starting the year 2-0, the Commanders have dropped three straight to fall to 2-3.
Check out the best photos of the Washington Commanders during their Week 5 primetime matchup against the Chicago Bears. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)
The Commanders have had an up-and-down stretch for the better part of a month. They followed up a gritty, come-from-behind victory against the Broncos with a frustrating home loss to the Buffalo Bills where the offense struggled to do much of anything. They came back a week later and took the Philadelphia Eagles into overtime in a 34-31 contest. It was a still a loss, but there was hope that Washington had started to find some momentum.
But the Commanders looked like they regressed again in the first half. The offense didn't get going until the second quarter, and prior to that, the unit had just seven total yards and two three-and-outs.
Meanwhile, the Bears were moving down the field with ease, and explosive plays were once again to blame. Moore, who finished the night with 230 yards, connected with Fields on a 58-yard reception that set Chicago up at the Commanders' 16-yard line. Three plays later, Moore was in the end zone on a 20-yard reception.
Fields wrapped up the day with 339 total yards and four touchdowns.
It didn't take long for Moore to find the end zone again. After a Commanders' drive went backwards for minus one yard, Chicago responded with a six-play, 69-yard drive. Once again, Moore was the highlight. He started things off with a 39-yard reception, and he finished things with an 11-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone to make the score 17-0.
After Howell's miss to Brown, Washington was still able to move close enough for Joey Slye to kick a 51-yard field goal. Once again, Chicago responded. They kicked a 36-yard field goal to put their lead back up to 17, and after an interception from Howell on the first play of Washington's ensuing drive, the Bears ran down the middle of the Commanders' defense, boosted by a 16-yard run on third-and-7. Three plays later, Cole Kmet was wide open in the end zone to make the score 27-3 at halftime.
Washington was forced to completely abandon the run in the second and put their complete trust in Howell's arm, which proved to be a sound strategy.
Washington needed to score quickly, and that's exactly how they began the third quarter. The offense zoomed down the field on five plays, going 75-yards in three minutes with some help from a defensive pass interference call. Howell connected with Logan Thomas on the two-yard score and plowed into the end zone for a two-point conversion to make the score 27-11.
It took a while, but the Commanders' defense put together its first stop of the night on the following drive from the Bears. That led to the Bears' first punt of the night, and the Commanders then moved into field goal range to cut into the deficit again, 27-14.
Chicago responded with a field goal of their own, but Washington chipped away at the deficit again with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a three-yard reception by Curtis Samuel, who was wide open in the end zone. A failed two-point conversion made the score 30-20.
Washington's defense forced a three-and-out, giving the Commanders the ball back with 9:13 left on the clock. They moved the ball all the way down to the Bears' 28-yard line before stalling and being forced to attempt a field goal. But Slye's kick was wide right, giving the Bears the ball back with just over five minutes left to play.
From there, Chicago was able to put the game away. Fields connected with Moore one more time -- a 56-yard catch-and-run that put the Bears back up by 17 and dashed any lingering hopes of a comeback.