The Washington Commanders were back at FedExField for Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans could not pull out a win in the final seconds with a 21-17 loss. Here are five takeaways from the afternoon, presented by the the inaugural Washington Commanders Fan Cruise.
1. The offense struggled on third downs all day.
Prior to the Commanders' matchup against the Titans, the offense's performance on third downs was one of its stronger traits. The Commanders had converted 43.9% of their third downs, which was good enough for sixth in the league.
The Commanders put together a completely opposite performance on Sunday, as they only completed one third down on 11 attempts. Some of that was because of penalties (the team committed nine fouls for 71 yards), but regardless of the reason, the inability to keep drives alive limited Washington from building momentum. An example of that came in the second quarter after the Commanders had taken a 10-7 lead. A sack for no loss of yards, followed by a false start, left Washington in a third-and-15 and punting on the next play.
That was even more detrimental when the Commanders were down by four points in the fourth quarter. After a false start and a sack backed the offense up to a second-and-23, the unit could not convert a third-and-9, forcing it to punt the ball back to Tennessee with seven minutes left.
The most frustrating part was that even without the third down conversion, Washington still had a chance to win. The Commanders will need to figure out how to stay on the field quicky if they hope to get a win in Chicago.
2. Dyami Brown was a bright spot.
Dyami Brown was given an opportunity to prove himself after Jahan Dotson was ruled out with a hamstring injury. The second-year pro delivered, and he was part of the reason the Commanders stayed competitive in the contest.
Brown, who had not caught a pass in the previous four games, finished the day with two receptions for 105 yards and both Commanders touchdowns.
It did not take long for Wentz to establish a connection with Brown. After the defense forced a three-and-out from the Titans, Wentz slung a pass out to Brown on the first play. Brown brought in the pass after beating Caleb Farley, giving Washington its first lead since Week 1.
Brown delivered again in the third quarter when his team was down 14-10. After the Commanders had moved to the Titans' 30-yard line, Brown finished off the drive with a one-handed grab in the end zone to help the Commanders retake the lead.
Brown has said since training camp that he feels like this year will be different for him, and after a career day for the former Tar Heel, it already is.
3. The one big play the Commanders allowed ended up costing them.
The Commanders did a good job overall of limiting explosive plays after failing to do so in the previous three weeks. They only had one all afternoon, but that was the moment that ended up costing the defense the most.
It was second-and-8 at the Titans' 27-yard line. Not only had the Commanders just taken the lead, but the Titans had –6 total yards in the second half. If the unit could get Tennessee off the field, it could give the offense a chance to build on a three-point advantage.
But Ryan Tannehill found the only receiver on the Titans roster who he had familiarity with from last season -- Nick Westbrook-Ikhine -- deep in Washington territory after gaining a few steps on Bobby McCain. Westbrook-Ikhine made the catch at the Commanders' 12-yard line for a 61-yard gain. Six plays later, Derrick Henry was in the end zone for the second time, giving the Titans a 21-17 lead that eventually became the final score.
It was a reminder that while playing better compared to weeks past is always a positive, the Commanders must still learn to be consistent. Because one negative play could impact the entire game.
The Washington Commanders take on the Tennessee Titans for their Week 5 matchup at FedExField. (Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)
4. The defense got to Ryan Tannehill.
The Titans were vulnerable with offensive tackle with Taylor Lewan out at left tackle and Nicholas Petit-Frere, a rookie, starting at right tackle. The Commanders took full advantage of the visiting team's weakness.
Tannehill was sacked five times by the Commanders, which was not only the most he has been brought down in one game all season, but it was also the most sacks the Commanders have gotten in one game since Nov. 8, 2020, against the New York Giants.
Montez Sweat, who had not recorded a sack prior to the Week 5 game, led the team with two, the first of which came on the Titans' first drive of the afternoon. Jonathan Allen also got in on the action with a half-sack, giving him 2.5 for the season.
It is a bittersweet stat after a loss, but the Commanders now have 14 sacks on the season, putting them in the top 10 in the NFL.
5. No time for remorse.
As frustrating as the loss is, there is not much time for the Commanders to lick their wounds, nor can they afford to, given the situation.
Washington will have until Wednesday to prepare for its matchup, which will be a road game on Thursday Night Football against the Chicago Bears (2-3). The Bears have struggled after a 2-1 start, dropping back-to-back games to the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings.
It could be an opportunity to get back in the win column. The Bears have the second worst offense in the league, while their defense is not much better. They allow 367.2 yards per game, including 170 yards on the ground.
But it will come down to the Commanders as to whether they can take advantage of that. If they can, it will go a long way towards getting things back on track after a four-game losing streak.
Click HERE to learn more about the inaugural Washington Commanders Fan Cruise.