After initially overcoming a 17-7 halftime deficit, the Washington Football Team could not hold on to the lead in its 34-20 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon.
Three interceptions from Dwayne Haskins Jr. led to three touchdowns for the Browns, the last of which gave them an 11-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Washington never got closer in its second defeat in three games to start the season.
"Disappointing," head coach Ron Rivera said of the turnovers. "That's one thing we can't do is turn the ball over and expect to win."
Haskins was exceptional in the first and third quarters. On the second offensive drive, he orchestrated a 8-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 17-yard touchdown to Dontrelle Inman. And in the third period, he led two touchdown drives while completing 7 of his 11 passes for 71 yards. His second touchdown throw to Inman gave Washington a 20-17 advantage late in the third quarter.
Turnovers doomed Haskins on Sunday, though. His first interception set up Cleveland (2-1) inside Washington's 30-yard line, and it only took three plays for the Browns to score via a 16-yard scamper from running back Nick Chubb.
His second interception came even deeper in Washington territory, and the Browns extended their advantage a few plays later on a nine-yard touchdown reception from Kareem Hunt. After going ahead, 7-0, Washington faced a 17-7 deficit at the break.
"Just really trying to do too much," Haskins said of the interceptions. "Just trying to make a play or fit it into a window in scenarios where we're moved back, like 3rd-and-8 or 3rd-and-12 -- whatever the case and scenario may be -- and trying to get it all back. That's kind of what happened as far as those interceptions."
A dominant third quarter thrust Washington (1-2) back into the lead -- it outgained Cleveland, 107-28, over those 15 minutes -- but its advantage was short-lived. The Browns marched down the field to retake the lead, and after Haskins' third interception, a 16-yard touchdown from Chubb put the hosts ahead, 31-20. A late field goal pushed that lead to 14 points.
Washington bottled up the Browns' rushing attack initially, but the duo of Chubb and Hunt still combined for 154 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Chubb led all ball carriers with 19 carries for 108 yards and two scores.
As for Washington, Terry McLaurin led the pass-catchers with 83 receiving yards on four receptions, Inman scored his first two touchdowns of the year and rookie Antonio Gibson (nine carries for 49 yards) scored his second-career touchdown. Undrafted rookie Isaiah Wright also made an impact in place of Steven Sims Jr., who was hampered with a toe injury throughout the week and did not play much Sunday. On six targets, Wright made four catches for 24 yards.
"He showed he's going to be a force to be reckoned with," Rivera said of Sweat.
Check out photos of the Washington Football Team during its Week 3 game against the Cleveland Browns. (Jimmy Longo/NFL and Aaron Doster/NFL)
Despite the loss, Rivera liked some of the things he saw from Haskins and the rest of the young players. The turnovers are unacceptable, but there is plenty to build on with the 2020 season still in its early stages.
"This is a young football team that is learning and growing and is going to make mistakes," Rivera said, "and we're going to learn and grow with them."