Once again missed opportunities plagued the Washington Football Team in its 17-10 loss to the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium.
Similar to last week, the offense struggled mightily in the red zone and was unable to score touchdowns on its two opportunities inside the 20. Meanwhile, Denver was more efficient offensively, finishing both of its red zone trips with touchdowns. Both teams entered Sunday tied for 28th in the NFL, scoring touchdowns on just 50% of its red zone possessions.
On seven of its eight drives, Washington crossed midfield and drove into Denver territory. However, it managed just 10 points on those drives, eerily similar to last Sunday's loss in Green Bay, where the unit moved the ball efficiently but failed to convert where it mattered most.
The box score will show that the movement was there. Washington out-gained Denver 342-273, and dating back to last Sunday against Green Bay, Washington has crossed into opponent's territory on 15 of its 18 possessions. Across those two games, the offense has combined for a porous 20 points plagued by sacks, turnovers and drops.
"Just missed opportunities, you get the ball down there you've got to put it in the end zone," head coach Ron Rivera said. "Unfortunately, we didn't. We had a couple of opportunities to stop them, we didn't. When we have the opportunity, we have to make it."
The Washington Football Team travels to Colorado to play the Denver Broncos in Week 8. (Photos by Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)
Washington's special teams issues from last week carried over to Sunday in Denver as well. Recently signed kicker Chris Blewitt had two of his three field goal attempts blocked, another example of Washington leaving points on the board.
Blewitt's first miss of the game appeared to ricochet off the helmet of teammate Wes Schweitzer, while his second kick was blocked by defensive lineman Shelby Harris in the middle of the line.
"One kick was low obviously, the other one I thought was a little bit with the operation," Rivera said of the two blocked field goals. "We'll see when we get a chance to look at it on tape."
Those missed opportunities transcended both offense and special teams, carrying over to the defense as well. Denver converted 7-of-13 third down opportunities, including two on its go-ahead touchdown drive. Conversely, Washington's offense converted just 5-of-14 third down situations.
Facing a crucial third-and-eight from the Washington 47-yard line, Teddy Bridgewater connected with Jerry Jeudy on a corner route, beating Danny Johnson. Four plays later on third-and-two from the 7-yard line, Melvin Gordon found a hole on the left side bursting through it for his second touchdown of the game.
Entering Sunday's game, Washington ranked last in the NFL, allowing opponents to convert 56.86% of third down opportunities. With Denver successful on 54% of its third down opportunities it continues to be an area of concern for Washington's defense and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
The margin for error in the NFL is incredibly thin, and those errors in all three phases have cost Washington mightily the last two weeks. Struggles to get off the field on third down defensively, plus issues scoring in the red zone offensively can often be the difference between winning and losing. Now with the bye next week coming up, Washington will reevaluate all three phases and necessary areas of improvement for the second half of the season.
"Really for the most part, we've got to stop making it hard on ourselves," Rivera said. "We've got to do our jobs. When we take a look at this we'll realize and see that we can't make it hard on ourselves and we can't make the mistakes that we've made. That's the way I see it right now, we're making the kinds of mistakes that don't give you a chance to win. That's something we've got to get corrected."