Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

Instant analysis | Explosive plays continue to plague Commanders in 28-20 loss to Rams


It's rare for an NFL receiver to be as open as Cooper Kupp was on the Los Angeles Rams' opening drive of the third quarter, but the Washington Commanders have seen it happen to them at a consistent rate this season.

The cause of the explosive play -- a 62-yard reception that Kupp caught at the Commanders' 25-yard line before jogging the rest of the way -- was a lingering problem for the Commanders: miscommunication. Whether Bejamin St-Juste was playing man coverage when he was supposed to be in zone or vice versa, the result was that Kupp has 17 yards of separation from the nearest defender -- the second most on a completion over 50 yards since at least 2016, according to Next Gen Stats.

The play summed up the 28-20 loss by the Commanders, who did try to make it a competitive game in the closing minutes. The Rams made a couple of mistakes here and there that kept things close, but for the most part, they were able to do whatever they wanted to a Washington team that falls to 4-10 after their fifth consecutive defeat.

Although the score does show that the Commanders fought until the end, it never really looked like the Burgundy & Gold had the momentum at any point.

Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders as they take on the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15. (Photos by Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)

The final stats paint a better picture of how the game went for Washington. The Rams cruised out to 445 yards of offense, fueled by 152 rushing yards from Kyren Williams and 258 yards from Matthew Stafford, who started the day with 12 consecutive completions. They converted 9-of-16 third down attempts, compared to just 3-of-14 for the Commanders, and averaged 6.1 yards on 73 plays.

The only time Washington's offense consistently came to life was in the fourth quarter, when the score was well out of hand and Jacoby Brissett was in at quarterback for Sam Howell, who wrapped up the day with 102 yards on 11 completions. Even then, however, the unit struggled to execute and finish drives. The Commanders were inside the Rams' 10-yard line, including four plays at the 1, for three game minutes before getting in the end zone.

A quick touchdown would have given hope to the flickering flames that represented Washington's chances at tying the score. Instead, that chance was extinguished with a score finally coming with 1:46 left in regulation and a failed onside kick attempt.

It's not as if Washington didn't have chances to get on the board earlier or even take a lead. The defense held up inside their own 5-yard line on the Rams' opening drive to force a field goal, and the unit forced its first turnovers since Week 9 with two fumble recoveries inside their own territory.

And Washington tried to be aggressive with those chances. After the Rams' first field goal, Howell got the Commanders all the way down to the Los Angeles 12-yard line. The Commanders kept the offense on the field, but Howell's pass intended for Logan Thomas was batted away for a turnover on downs.

The problem was that the Rams still found ways to score. They went up 10-0 after Williams punched in a one-yard touchdown on a 53-yard drive. Then, after a disastrous series where a botched snap on a punt led to the Rams taking over at the Commanders' 15-yard line, they tacked on another three points to make the score 13-0 at halftime.

One could argue that the two-score deficit was the best situation Washington could have hoped for when playing a team that had won three of its previous four contests. It felt more like the Commanders were sitting at the bottom of a vast chasm.

That fissure got deeper with Kupp's 62-yard score -- his longest of the season -- making the score 20-0. Washington countered with a 19-yard reception by Curtis Samuel, but the Rams effectively moved downfield on five plays, capping things off with a 23-yard touchdown grab by Demarcus Robinson.

To their credit, the Commanders fought until the final seconds. With Brissett in at quarterback, Terry McLaurin got his first touchdown since Oct. 29 with a 29-yard reception in the end zone and had a 49-yard grab that gave him a career-high 141 yards.

Washington had problems punching the ball in, though. They had eight attempts at it before Samuel scored in the back of the end zone. After that, all the Rams needed to do was pick up a handful of first downs and run out the clock.

Related Content