Chase Young didn't give much in-depth analysis after the Washington Football Team's Week 6 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he did offer a simple, yet profound statement on where the team is at.
"Got to look in the mirror," Young told reporters. "Gut check time."
Washington's reflection was muddled at best in its 31-13 loss to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The excitement generated from the three forced turnovers and a 13-10 halftime lead slowly evaporated throughout the afternoon. With each mistake Washington made, Kansas City responded with another gash downfield. Hope for an upset turned to disappointment with a 2-4 record.
It was perfectly clear, though, that if Washington wants to hang with the NFL's best, it needs to learn how to overcome adversity and play four quality quarters.
"I think the message to the guys, more so than anything else, is we have to handle adversity. We have to play two halves of football," said head coach Ron Rivera. "We've got to be able to handle the mistakes, correct the mistakes and just keep going forward."
There's a long list of things for Washington to be upset about after Week 6. The Chiefs put up 499 yards of offense and was 11-of-17 on third downs, while Washington failed to establish much of a ground game against a Chiefs defense that was one of the worst against the run. But the most frustrating part was that Washington saw what can happen when it plays to its potential.
"It's one that I feel like slipped through our fingers a little bit," Young said. "I feel like in the first half, we were solid. We were getting to the quarterback, forcing turnovers."
After spotting Kansas City a 7-0 lead, Washington's defense looked closer to the force it was expected to be before the season began. Young and the pass rush were harassing Mahomes, forcing sacks and incompletions. The secondary was opportunistic with Kendall Fuller and Bobby McCain coming up with interceptions. Kansas City had 259 yards, but all it had to show for that production was 10 points.
The Washington Football Team hosts the Kansas City Chiefs at FedExField for Week 6. (Photos by Emilee Fails, Karlee Sell and Joe Noyes/Washington Football Team)
The offense was far from perfect, although it did enough to take advantage of Kansas City's mistakes. Taylor Heinicke made the Chiefs pay for a blown coverage by hitting Ricky Seals-Jones on a 39-yard touchdown with just over a minute left in the second quarter. It was the first time since Week 2 that Washington went into halftime with a lead.
And after Washington forced a punt from Kansas City and immediately moved into field goal position, it looked like the team was going to build on its momentum. But Dustin Hopkins’ wide left kick led to back-to-back offside penalties that kept the Chiefs' ensuring drive alive, which then turned into a touchdown that put Kansas City up 17-13. Those mistakes led to even more errors that Washington couldn't recover from.
After the game, Rivera called it a "snowball effect."
"One bad thing led to another," Rivera said. "Again...we missed a field goal. Then we have a chance to force them to try and kick a field goal, we line up in the neutral zone. You can't do that."
While Washington was reeling, Mahomes was starting to look more and more like the generational talent people expect him to be. The pass rush, which had been so successful in the first half, came up empty-handed as Mahomes evaded pressure to hit open receivers. It helped Kansas City bleed more than seven minutes off the clock during its final scoring drive in the fourth quarter, and by the time Mahomes capped off the drive with a 24-yard pass to Demarcus Robinson, the game was essentially out of reach.
It was the second lesson Washington experienced Sunday afternoon: against the teams like the Chiefs, it requires a full four-quarter effort.
"In the second half, they started executing better than we did," Terry McLaurin said. "That was the difference, so you've got to give them credit in that aspect. For ourselves, we've just got to look at what we can do better to not let that happen."
Washington is a 2-4 football team right now, and that's something Washington will have to deal with moving forward. There's been a common theme for Washington, especially in the past two weeks. The team didn't handle adversity properly, Rivera said, and it needs to learn how to recover from its mistakes.
"We've got to shake this one off, learn from it and get ready for next week," Rivera said. "It's all we can do."
With Kansas City just the start of a difficult stretch for Washington -- the Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are up next -- it will need to learn quickly.
"When you don't capitalize when you need to against a championship team like that, you're going to get the result that you did," McLaurin said. "We just have to do a better job at playing two halves of football."