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Instant Analysis | Commanders falter against the Giants, fall to 7-6-1

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There was no tie at FedExField, but unfortunately for the Washington Commanders, they ended up on the losing end of their critical NFC East matchup with the New York Giants.

Just like the previous matchups, there were several "what-ifs" that the Commanders simply could not capitalize on. Whether it was the decision not to kick a field goal on the opening drive at the Giants' 34-yard line or the pass from Taylor Heinicke that was just out of Logan Thomas' grasp, Washington came up short when it needed a play, and those misses began to add up.

And because of that, the Commanders fell short in the rematch with the Giants, 20-12.

Disappointment appeared often for the Commanders throughout the night, because they did set themselves up for success multiple times. The offense got into Giants territory on three of its first four possessions but only managed to get three points out of it. On defense, the Commanders failed to get the Giants off the field on a fourth-and-9, which led to a Giants touchdown three plays later.

And the backbreaker: a 61-yard reception by Jahan Dotson was wasted when Heinicke committed his second turnover of the night inside the 15-yard line.

Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders' Week 15 game against the New York Giants. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

Heinicke ended the night completing 17-of-29 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown. Dotson caught four of six targets for 105 yards, while Brian Robinson carried the ball 12 times for 89 yards.

It was Washington that got on the board first on its second drive of the game after driving all the way to the Giants' 34-yard line and elected to punt. Following a three-and-out forced by the Commanders' defense, the Commanders went on a nine-play, 47-yard drive and ended it with a 41-yard field goal from Joey Slye.

But just like two weeks ago, there was a momentum-swinging play that came at the detriment of the Commanders. Washington's offense was backed up at its own 10-yard line after a holding call, and the Giants took advantage of that poor field position when Kayvon Thibodeaux, who led the Giants in tackles, recorded a sack-fumble and scooped up the ball at the 1-yard line and finished the play in the end zone.

Washington could not do much on the ensuing drive, which resulted in just 28 yards on six plays. That is when the Giants took a page out of the Commanders' book and went on an 18-play, 97-yard drive that took 8:35 off the clock. Barkley ended things with a three-yard rush from the wildcat formation, making the score 14-3 with less than two minutes to play in the first half. 

Washington needed a response to start the third quarter, and after the defense forced the Giants off the field five plays into their drive, the team got exactly that. Washington marched 91 yards downfield on six plays, highlighted by a 20-yard catch-and-run by McLaurin, who surpassed 1,000 yards for the third-straight season.  

Jahan Dotson capped off the drive with his sixth touchdown of the season -- a 19-yard reception -- that made the score 14-9 after a missed extra point.

The two traded field goals from that point, including a 51-yarder from Joey Slye that made the score 17-12 with 12:31 left to play. That was when Heinicke unloaded his 61-yarder to Dotson, which helped the Commanders get down to the Giants' 5-yard line. 

But rather than kick a field goal, which would have cut the Giants' lead to two points, Washington's defense trotted onto the field after the Heinicke fumble. The Giants tacked on another field goal, making the score 20-12. 

The Commanders were able to get the ball all the way down to the 1-yard line, thanks to receptions by Dotson and Curtis Samuel, but after an illegal formation that backed them up to the 6-yard line, they were not able to get in the end zone. An incomplete pass on fourth down from Heinicke essentially ended the game. 

Washington is now in the seventh seed after the loss, and while the playoffs are still possible, it must win its next three games, starting with a road trip to play the San Francisco 49ers.

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