Numbers to know from Washington's tie with the Giants
The Washington Commanders hit the road for a big game outside the Big Apple in Week 12 but could not get the win they needed to massively improve their playoff chances, as the game finished 20-20. Here are three numbers to know from Washington's first tie since 2016:
The Commanders started off the December holiday season by delighting Washington fans with the gift that keeps on giving: the Taylor Heinicke-Terry McLaurin connection. Against the Giants, Washington's No. 1 receiver led the team with eight receptions on 12 targets for 105 yards. The game was his fourth with 100+ receiving yards this season and the 14th of his career. The outing also saw him surpass 4,000 career receiving yards and pass both Henry Ellard and Michael for 11th all-time on the franchise receptions list. He is also 12th in all-time receiving yards with the franchise (4,035).
One of the most important of McLaurin's touches yesterday resulted in crucial points on the board for Washington. With just about a minute and a half left to play in the first quarter, McLaurin ran a drag route and reached back across his body with one hand to make an impressive catch. He then broke a tackle from Fabian Moreau to scamper into the end zone for a touchdown to give Washington its first 10-0 first-quarter lead over the Giants since 2011.
And while so many stats can point to how outstanding McLaurin is for the Commanders and in Washington history, the number to know "six" underscores just how incredible he is from a zoomed-out, league perspective. With his Week 12 performance, McLaurin became the sixth player in NFL history to have at least 50 receptions and 900 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons joining Randy Moss, A.J. Green, Michael Thomas, Mike Evans and Joey Galloway. That is pretty darn good company.
It is hard to overestimate just how important Daron Payne’s consistently strong and disruptive performances have been in Washington's turnaround since Week 6. His performance yesterday at MetLife illustrated what an instrumental force he can be as he recorded two sacks for the first multi-sack game of his career.
The first one came in the first quarter. Washington's defense had started off the game with a bang as it forced a turnover on the Giants' first drive of the game, and Payne continued to bring that energy into the Giants' second drive of the game. On the second down of that drive, the defensive tackle shrugged off his blocker, got to Daniel Jones and brought the quarterback down for a loss of nine yards.
His second sack of the game, it could be argued, helped ensure that Washington did not lose on the first drive of overtime and instead had a chance to take matters into its own hands. With the game tied in overtime and the Giants able to win with a touchdown, Payne sacked Jones on third down to force the G-Men off the field.
Earlier this year, Payne had expressed a goal of reaching eight sacks on the season. After yesterday, he is at 8.5, giving him the third most among all defensive tackles with four regular season games remaining. Head coach Ron Rivera it seems was being modest when he said last week that Payne was playing "really good football."
Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders taking on the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 13. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)
And now to mix a little sour in with the sweet. The Commanders struggled to contain Jones yesterday, as he amassed 279 yards in the tie. Seventy-one of those yards came via the run game as Jones used his legs frequently to get out of tough situations and eat into Washington territory. Two of his runs accounted for two of the Giants' longest plays of the game.
Jones was also effective in the air for the Giants as he completed 25-of-31 passes in the contest. One of the most memorable turned momentum in New York's favor and threw the Commanders off kilter for a good chunk of the game.
With just about eleven minutes to play in the second quarter, Jones dropped back from his own 19-yard line and launched a 55-yard pass to wide receiver Darius Slayton to get the Giants down to Washington's 26. Saquon Barkley was able to finish the play off in the red zone with a touchdown to even the score. Slayton went on to have one of better games of his career as he ended the day with six receptions for 90 yards.
In short, Jones was a potent dual threat for the Giants, and if Washington hopes to get the better of New York when it comes to FedExField in Week 13, it will need to do a better job of thwarting him.