You had to be there to fully understand the outcome of the Washington Commanders' Week 11 loss to the New York Giants.
The Commanders outgained the Giants, 403-292, and controlled the clock for nearly 10 more minutes. They scored touchdowns on two of their three trips to the red zone. They only had one penalty for five yards all day. They nearly doubled the Giants on the ground, 174-91. They had 28 first downs compared to the Giants' 13. Up until nearly the end of the third quarter, the Giants had zero rushing yards, and the defense recorded nine sacks on the afternoon.
And yet, despite all that going in their favor, the Commanders still dropped their fourth division game of the season, 31-19.
In the end, turnovers doomed the Commanders almost from the start. The Burgundy & Gold committed six giveaways, each more devastating than the last. And while the Giants didn't necessarily do much with them until the end, it was just enough to spoil the Commanders' chances of putting together any semblance of consistent momentum.
"It's a low point, that's for sure," head coach Ron Rivera said after the game. "Anytime you got an opportunity to win a football game and you put the numbers up that you did, you get a chance, you gotta come through."
That's been tough for the Commanders to do for the better part of the season. The loss puts Washington at 4-7 after starting 2-0. Although they have played well in the NFC East, they have yet to get a division win. They've lost seven of their last nine games, most of which have been the results of the same issues: slow starts on both sides of the ball and allowing explosive plays on defense.
"When you turn over the ball that many times, you're not gonna win games," said quarterback Sam Howell, who finished the day with 255 yards and three interceptions. "That starts with me. I gotta do a better job of taking care of the football."
For the last weeks, it looked like the offense was beginning to find some of that consistency the Commanders have been lacking all season. They went 1-2 in that span, but at least the unit was putting the team in position to win behind Howell and a better game plan that got the ball to playmakers at a quicker rate.
This week, all that progress looked to be gone as the offense committed two turnovers in their first six plays. The defense bailed them out on the first one, partly because Howell's first interception placed the ball deep in Giants territory. They weren't so lucky on the second; Logan Thomas fumbled after a five-yard gain, and four plays later, Tommy DeVito hit Saquon Barkley for a 24-yard touchdown.
There were certainly some points where the Commanders looked like they would start to put things together. Their next drive after the Barkley touchdown stalled at the 5-yard line, but at least the offense started to gain some traction with an 18-yard screen pass to Brian Robinson Jr. and a 29-yard catch by Logan Thomas.
It also helped that the Giants couldn't do much of anything for most of the first half. DeVito dealt with pressure from the Commanders all day. By the time the second quarter was done, he had been sacked six times.
But even then, the mistakes that have plagued the Commanders all year continued to put them in bad spots. On third-and-1, DeVito found Darius Slayton wide open down the left sideline, and the wideout finished the play in the end zone after shaking Benjamin St-Juste.
Finishing drives was also a problem. In what was one of the Commanders' best drives of the game, the offense went on a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Howell scrambling and powering through Giants defenders for a seven-yard score. Joey Slye's kick sailed wide right, though, leaving the score 14-9 in the Giants' favor at halftime.
That continued in the second half. The defense prevented a bad situation from getting worse by holding the Giants to a three-and-out after Byron Pringle fumbled the ball on a kickoff return, but all the offense could do was put up three points on their next two drives. It looked like they were in position to take the lead with less than a minute left in the third quarter, only for Chris Rodriguez to cough up the ball at the Giants' 32-yard line.
It was at that time that the Giants' offense started to wake up. Barkley broke loose on a 36-yard run and stretched the ball across the goal line four plays later. Howell's second interception came on the next drive on a pass intended for Jahan Dotson. The Giants responded by getting into field goal position and taking a 24-12 lead.
As bad as things had gotten, Washington still had a chance to escape with a win. They moved 75 yards downfield in just over four minutes and cut into the lead with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Howell to Dotson. The defense actually came up with the stop the team needed by taking down DeVito short of the first down marker. That left 1:49 for the Commanders to score with a timeout.
That hope ended after seven plays. Howell's pass to Thomas was picked off and ran back by Isaiah Simmons for a touchdown, putting the game away for good.
Washington has just four days to move on from the loss and prepare for their Thanksgiving game against the Dallas Cowboys. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.