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Instant Analysis | Commanders struggle in 37-3 loss to Bills


It was just that type of day for the Washington Commanders. 

Down 16-0 to open the third quarter, the Commanders opened things up with a little bit of a spark. Runs by Brian Robinson Jr. (23 yards) and Antonio Gibson (13 yards) had the offense set up at the Buffalo Bills' 17-yard line. Then, the disaster: Sam Howell tried to find Curtis Samuel in the end zone, only for Tre'Davius White to step in front of the pass for an interception. 

That was the third interception for Howell on the day, and it was symbolic of how Washington performed for most of the day. Any kind of momentum the team managed to gain was wiped away by either a turnover or an explosive play by the Bills. Washington had faced double-digit deficits before, but this time, there was no dramatic comeback, and the Commanders suffered their first loss of the season, 37-3. 

It was a frustrating day for the Commanders' offense, and it wasn't just because of the four interceptions by Howell. The unit struggled to gain any momentum outside of three drives, whether it was a three-and-out, a sack or a turnover. Washington completed just one third down all day and only managed to amass 230 yards. 

Howell ended the day with 170 yards on 19 completions and was sacked nine times.

Check out the best shots from the Washington Commanders' Week 1 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

Adding to the frustration was that the defense held up against the Bills' fifth-ranked offense for most of the day. Although there were explosive plays from the Bills, like the 35-yard touchdown catch from Gabe Davis, the unit held the Bills to three field goal attempts.

The defense even tried to pump some life back into the team in the third quarter with an interception by Kendall Fuller, but unlike in the previous two games, when similar plays helped swing momentum in Washington's favor, those sparks were snuffed out by either a struggling Commanders' offense or the defense finally cracking from the pressure put on them by Josh Allen (254 total yards), Stefon Diggs (111 yards on eight receptions) and James Cook (98 yards on 15 carries).

After going down 3-0 on the Bills' opening drive, it looked as if the Commanders were going to march down the field. A 21-yard completion by Cole Turner set the Commanders up at the Bills' 25-yard line. But back-to-back sacks forced the Commanders out of field goal range, and on third-and-19, Terrel Bernard made a leaping grab on a pass intended for Dyami Brown.

From there, things slid downhill for the Commanders' offense. They managed to get down to the Bills' 1-yard line, but instead of kicking the chip shot field goal, which would have made the score 10-3, the Commanders elected to stay on the field for fourth down and could not convert.

The Bills then added to their lead with a pair of field goals, one of which came from Howell's second interception on a pass intended for Antonio Gibson, making the score 16-0 at halftime.

After the third Howell interception, which spoiled a 10-play, 68-yard drive, the Bills began to put the game out of reach. A fumble by Gibson led to a touchdown by the Bills six plays later, as Allen scrambled for a 10-yard score.

On the ensuing drive, Howell's third pass intended for Jahan Dotson was picked off by AJ Epenesa, who shrugged off a tackle and ran 32 yards into the end zone.

Another three-and-out by Washington, resulting in a loss of six yards, was followed up by another score from the Bills. This time, it was off a nine-play, 64-yard drive that ended with a two-yard run by Latavius Murray, making the score 37-0.

It was the first time Washington had lost by at least 30 points since 2021, but the team does have a chance to bounce back with a Week 4 road trip to play the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 1 with a 1 p.m. kickoff.

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