The Washington Football Team leads the San Francisco 49ers, 13-7, at halftime. Here are three quick hits from the first two quarters.
1. Defense Dominates After Slow Start
Washington allowed more rushing yards (54) in the first three drives Sunday than it was averaging in its past three games (50.3), but the unit dominated after giving up a one-yard touchdown to running back Jeff Wilson late in the first quarter.
For the half, Washington allowed 65 yards on 16 attempts (5.2 yards per carry) and 148 yards total. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio's group also sacked quarterback Nick Mullens three times, and defensive end Chase Young stripped Wilson with about five minutes left before halftime. That led to kicker Dustin Hopkins' second field goal, which brought Washington within 7-6.
Then, as the 49ers attempted to extend its lead, defensive tackles Daron Payne and Jon Allen combined to sack Mullens. Payne striped the ball on the play, and Young picked it up and rumbled 47 yards for his first-career touchdown to give Washington the lead.
2. Alex Smith Struggles
Alex Smith was accurate and efficient in the second half of Washington's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that was not the case in the first half against the 49ers. The veteran struggled to connect with his receivers on several throws and went into the locker room completing just 8-of-19 passes for 57 yards.
Smith's inaccuracy started on Washington's opening drive when overthrew an open Terry McLaurin, who could have turned a potential first down into more yardage. Two drives later, he missed on a shot to Logan Thomas. By the end of the first quarter, Smith was 2-of-7 for just five yards.
Things weren't much better for Smith after that. He completed 50% of his passes, but he also threw an interception with less than two minutes left in the half. Washington tends to perform better in the second half, but it will need Smith to be more effective if it wants to get its fourth straight win.
3. Terry McLaurin Surpasses 1,000 Yards
It was well into second quarter before McLaurin got his first two receptions, but they helped the second-year wide receiver surpass a pivotal benchmark in his career. McLaurin finished the half with 24 yards, which pushed him to his first 1,000-yard season.
McLaurin became the first Washington player since 2016 to surpass 1,000 yards when Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson eclipsed that mark in the same season. It's likely that McLaurin is not celebrating that accomplishment, though, as his team is holding on to just a six-point lead.
"I mean, I think it'd be cool to have 1,000 yards," McLaurin said earlier this week. "But it's even cooler to keep winning and have a chance to win the division. If I have to have games like last week for us to continue to win and take attention off of other guys, then that's what I'm going to do."
Washington’s offense tends to function better when McLaurin gets the ball. Even with more attention on its No. 1 receiver, it will likely still turn to him to give the unit a boost in the second half.