De'Vondre Campbell was sprinting into the end zone in the second quarter, and it was about as bad as things could have gone for the Washington Commanders in their return home to face the Green Bay Packers.
Taylor Heinicke, who struggled along with the rest of the Commanders' offense to get revved up, was targeting J.D. McKissic on the play. Campbell jumped the route, and it looked like the game was about to get out of hand already as the Packers took a 14-3 lead.
But the Commanders, who entered the Week 7 matchup coming off a gritty win against the Chicago Bears, were not bothered by the 11-point lead, and they stuck to their game plan. It was a complete team effort, head coach Ron Rivera said after the game, and by the end of the afternoon, Washington had erased the deficit and came away with a 23-21 victory.
As Rivera eluded, all three phases of the game had their moments in the victory. The offense found its footing in the second half, outscoring the Packers 13-7, and was fueled by a rushing unit that finished with 166 yards. Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson combined for 132 yards on 30 carries.
But the defense continued its upward climb to deliver one of its most impressive performances of the season. The Packers only converted one third down and could only muster 76 yards in the first half. Rodgers had some solid throws to finish with 194 yards and two touchdowns, while the ground game was limited to 38 yards.
After both teams punted on their opening drives, Green Bay took advantage of a short field and went 42 yards downfield and got into the end zone on a four-yard pass from Rodgers to Aaron Jones. Washington cut into the lead with a field goal following a muffed punt recovered by Percy Butler, but the interception by Campbell sullied the momentum gained by the scoring drive.
Fortunately for the Burgundy & Gold, Heinicke and the offense were quick to bounce back from their error. They marched 83 yards downfield, propelled by the rushing duo of Gibson and Robinson. Facing a third-and-8 at the Packers' 9-yard line, Gibson got in the end zone on a pass from Heinicke, keeping both feet in bounds for the score.
Washington tacked onto its lead with two more scoring drives, both ending with field goals. The first was a 31-yarder that capped off a 16-play, 72-yard drive. The next was a chip shot -- a 19-yard attempt -- at the Packers' 2-yard line that gave Washington a 23-14 lead.
Rodgers and Green Bay, however, would not go out easily. Thanks to three costly penalties on Washington, one of which came on a third down, Green Bay had the ball at the Commanders' 21-yard line. Rodgers laid out a pass to Jones, who made the grab and cut into Washington's lead, 23-21.
The Commanders did just enough to keep the ball away from Green Bay, preventing them from getting one last chance at a comeback. McLaurin came down with a clutch catch on third-and-9, allowing them to bleed the clock all the way down to 29 seconds left.
Green Bay got all the way down to midfield, but despite some last-second laterals from the Packers, the visiting team dropped its third-straight game.
The Washington Commanders take on the Green Bay Packers in Week 7. (Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)
For the next seven minutes, neither team put together much offense. The final drives of the first half included a missed 47-yard field goal from Joey Slye and a 68-yard punt from Tress Way that left Green Bay pinned at the 1-yard line.
The game was ugly and nearly teetered out of control with a fumble recovery for a touchdown from Green Bay that was wiped away by an illegal contact penalty, but things remained in reach with a 14-10 score.
It was at the point that Washington's offense began to find more consistency, starting with a much-needed play from its biggest offensive playmaker. With the ball at Green Bay's 37-yard line, Heinicke aired out a pass to Terry McLaurin, who made the catch in the end zone to give Washington its first lead of the afternoon.