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Instant Analysis | Commanders drop third straight with loss to Cleveland

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It was third-and-5 at the Washington Commanders' 46-yard line, and after taking a second to collect himself, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper was sprinting down the sideline and heading for the end zone.

There were few Commanders on that side of the field to take down the four-time Pro Bowler, and the ones that remotely threatened Cooper were out position. The play wrapped up a six-play, 63-yard drive and gave the Browns a lead that it did not give up for the rest of the afternoon.

The Commanders had everything in front of them and everything ahead of them heading into the Week 17 matchup. A win kept the team's playoff hopes alive, while a loss made it almost impossible to hold onto a postseason berth.

And while there were flashes in the 24-10 loss, they were not enough to get Washington back in the win column. Now, as Washington prepares to wrap up the regular season with a home matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, it must win and get help to play in the Wild Card round.

It was the first start for Carson Wentz since Week 6, and it was a frustrating first quarter for the veteran signal caller. Washington's first three drives ended in disappointment, as Wentz tossed two interceptions and turned over the ball on downs. Wentz finished the game 16-of-28 for 143 yards and three interceptions.

The Commanders managed to bring down Deshaun Watson, but their misses on the quarterback in the backfield had a far larger impact on the outcome. Time after time, Watson was able to evade Washington's pressure and keep the chains moving.

At first, though, it looked like the defensive performance was going to be enough to keep the Burgundy & Gold in the game. The Browns were able to tack on a field goal, but Washington got three sacks on Watson and managed to stop the signal-caller short of the goal line on a fourth-and-goal.

Washington's offense, however, could not get going until the second quarter, and for about 12 minutes, the unit looked like its former self. It ran the ball with Brian Robinson, who carried the ball 24 times for 87 yards in the game, and converted five third downs on the 20-play drive. Wentz finished things on fourth-and-goal by jumping over the defensive pile to give Washington a 7-3 halftime lead.

Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders as they play their Week 17 game against the Cleveland Browns. (Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

The Commanders could not build on that lead, though, while the Browns, who had nothing to play for due to their elimination from the playoffs last week, managed to find some momentum after the Cooper touchdown.

Washington cut the 17-7 lead down to one score with a 43-yard field goal from Joey Slye, but the Browns followed their previous 84-yard drive with a nine-play, 75-yard romp to the end zone that ended with another Cooper touchdown, this time a 33-yarder that made the score 24-10.

With five minutes left to play, there was no margin for error in Washington's favor. The Commanders managed to get to Cleveland's 40-yard line before Wentz threw his third interception. The final drive ended with a turnover on downs, and with it, any hopes of a comeback evaporated.

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