The Washington Football Team faced the Cleveland Browns and lost their second straight game, 34-20. Here are five takeaways from the Week 3 game:
1. The offense got the fast start it's been searching for...
Washington's offense struggled mightily in the first halves of its first two games. It was outscored, 37-7, in those games, and went down 17-0 and 20-0 before its offense could put together successful drives.
That changed Sunday against the Browns. After holding Cleveland to 43 yards of offense in its first two drives, Washington put together an eight-play, 75-yard drive. It added wrinkles to the running game with runs from receivers Antonio Gandy-Golden and Terry McLaurin. Haskins was efficient, completing 3-of-4 passes for 44 yards.
After a three-yard run from McLaurin on a 3rd-and-1, Haskins completed a 17-yard pass to Dontrelle Inman to put Washington up 7-0. It was Washington's first points in the first quarter and its first lead in the first half through three weeks.
Washington held its lead for the rest of the first quarter. The team outgained Cleveland on offense, 102-58, during that span and held the Browns' rushing attack to just seven yards on five carries. It finished the game with 309 total yards, 224 of which came from Haskins.
2. ...but turnovers were a problem for Washington's offense all day.
Washington's offense had done a decent job of protecting the football in the first two weeks. Haskins had not thrown an interception during that span, but he threw two in the first half that Cleveland turned into 14 points.
The first came after the Browns kicked a field goal to make the score 7-3. Washington had the ball at Cleveland's 41-yard line when Karl Joseph grabbed the interception on a pass intended for Logan Thomas. Three plays later, running back Nick Chubb rumbled in for a 16-yard touchdown.
The next came after the two-minute warning. With the ball at Washington's 19-yard line, Malcolm Smith intercepted a pass to Inman, and all Cleveland needed was three plays to find the end zone again on a nine-yard pass to Kareem Hunt.
Later in the fourth quarter, with Washington trailing, 24-20, Haskins threw his third interception on another pass intended for Inman. Chubb then got into the end zone again, this time on a 20-yard run, to put the Browns up 31-20.
3. Montez Sweat led another strong outing from the Washington pass rush.
Washington came into Sunday's game leading the NFL with 11 sacks. The expectations have been high for the team's defensive line all season, and it delivered once again.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield was harassed all game, and it started early with less than six minutes left in the first quarter. Jonathan Allen fought through a block on a 3rd-and-9 and made a diving grab on Mayfield for a five-yard loss and forced a punt.
2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat had been a constant presence in Cleveland's backfield all afternoon, and he finally got to Mayfield in the third quarter, bringing him down for a nine-yard loss. The play put Cleveland at its own 16-yard line, and it was forced to punt three plays later, giving Washington good field position to score on a 12-play drive.
"He showed he's going to be a force to be reckoned with," head coach Ron Rivera said of Sweat.
Sweat finished the game with four tackles and four quarterback hits. Allen, who led the team with nine tackles, also had a quarterback hit and a tackle for a loss. Washington now has 13 sacks through the first three games.
4. Washington had another strong second half, but it couldn't keep up with Cleveland.
Washington has developed a habit of putting together strong second halves. It scored 20 unanswered points against the Eagles and outscored the Cardinals, 15-10, in Week 2. The trend continued again against Cleveland, but it couldn't keep up with the Browns' offense.
Washington scored on back-to-back drives -- a two-yard run by Antonio Gibson and an 11-yard catch from Inman -- to retake the lead, 20-17. But that's when things started to go awry for Washington, as the Browns put up 17 straight points to put the game out of reach.
First, the Browns took back the lead with a 12-play drive to go up 24-20. That was followed by a three-play scoring drive after Haskins' third interception. Then, after the Browns forced a fumble on Haskins, Cleveland kicked a 30-yard field goal to go up 34-20.
After outscoring the Browns, 13-0, in the third quarter, Washington's offense could only muster 15 yards on 11 plays the rest of the way.
5. Washington heads into Week 4 with key injuries.
Washington's defensive line has plenty of depth, but it suffered the loss of two key players in Matt Ioannidis and Chase Young. Ioannidis was the first to head into the locker room with an arm injury, and he was followed by Young, who limped into the locker room with a groin injury. Neither returned to the game.
Inman, who had 38 receiving yards to go with his two touchdowns, then left the field in the fourth quarter holding his wrist.
Cornerback Kendall Fuller, who made his season debut after dealing with an injury in the first two weeks, said Ioannidis and Young were noticeable losses but that the defense has a "next-man-up" mentality.
"We know the depth that we have at each level, and we're just looking at the next man to step in and make plays."