The Washington Football Team returned to FedExField to play the Baltimore Ravens and lost, 31-17, falling to 1-3. Here are five takeaways from the Week 4 matchup.
1. Antonio Gibson was the star on offense.
Antonio Gibson’s first carry of the day was a simple but exciting one; he stopped at the line of scrimmage, turned left and sprinted past defenders for a 10-yard gain. It was an early sign that Gibson was going to have a strong day.
It didn't matter whether Gibson was lined up in the slot, backfield or outside the numbers; the third-round pick from Memphis shined as a rusher and pass-catcher. By the end of the first half, he had already surpassed his previous single-game performances with 106 yards on 12 touches. With the score, 14-0, Gibson caught a screen pass on a 3rd-and-11 and sprinted through the defense for a 40-yard gain. Four plays later, he was in the end zone for a touchdown.
Gibson continued to produce in the second half and finished the game with 128 total yards on 17 touches. He caught four of his five targets for 82 yards and was Washington's leading rusher for the fourth straight game with 46 yards on 13 attempts.
"I just felt comfortable today," Gibson said after the game. "I feel like each week, I'm learning. I feel like every play, I always come back and critique myself. As the season goes on, I am going to continue to learn and put it out there on the field."
2. Dwayne Haskins Jr. played with more consistency.
Dwayne Haskins Jr. needed to show head coach Ron Rivera positive growth after committing four turnovers, including three interceptions, against the Cleveland Browns. Sunday's game against the Ravens was decidedly better from a statistical standpoint, as he had a career-high 314 passing yards.
Haskins scored a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, but more importantly, he played turnover-free football. Rivera and Haskins admitted that he was staring down receivers against the Browns, which led to his three interceptions. Haskins responded by targeting eight different receivers and completing 71% of his passes, which is by far his best outing of the season thus far.
Rivera also said Friday he wanted to see Haskins make the right decisions using the right techniques. For the most part, it appeared that Haskins did that as he hit open receivers and either threw the ball away or looked for his checkdown receivers if a big play was not open. Washington's running backs were collectively targeted more than any receiver aside from McLaurin, with Gibson, Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic getting 14 targets.
While there were still moments where Haskins struggled -- he was sacked three times for 40 yards -- there were flashes of his former first-round talent as he completed a 39-yard bomb to Terry McLaurin. Two plays later, he was in the end zone on a one-yard score.
3. Big plays hurt Washington's defense.
Washington was still in good shape with about 10 minutes left in the second quarter. It had done a relatively good job of containing Baltimore's ground game, and the score was 7-0 in the Ravens' favor. But then Lamar Jackson kept a hand-off and weaved through the defense for a 50-yard scamper into the end zone.
Then, with less than two minutes left in the first half, Jackson connected with tight end Mark Andrews on a 25-yard strike to the end zone to make the score 21-7. That was followed by another touchdown from Andrews, this time on a 22-yard pass, in the third quarter to put Baltimore up, 28-10.
There were several moments where Washington was able to control Baltimore's fifth-ranked rushing offense. Take away Jackson's 50-yard run, and the defense held the Ravens' ground game to 94 yards.
However, there were still several plays where Baltimore was able to haul in big yardage. Jackson completed a 33-yard pass to Marquise Brown in the second quarter that put the Ravens at Washington's 44-yard line. Later in the third quarter, Jackson completed an 18-yard pass to Brown that set up Andrews' touchdown two plays later.
Jackson finished the game with 246 total yards and three touchdowns. Brown, who had four receptions on eight targets, finished the game with 86 yards.
4. Kendall Fuller gave Washington easy scoring opportunities.
Kendall Fuller was perhaps Washington's biggest free agent acquisition in March, but he spent the first two games on the sideline nursing a knee injury. After a relatively quiet game against the Browns, he showed why the team was right to bring him back to Washington.
There were 36 seconds left in the first half, and the Ravens were looking to get one last score before the break. As Jackson heaved a pass toward Miles Boykin on the left sideline, Fuller made the grab for the interception and came down with the ball at Baltimore's 37-yard line. Three plays later, Dustin Hopkins kicked a 43-yard field goal to make the score 21-10.
Then, with Washington trailing, 31-10, and less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Ravens targeted Fuller again, but the fifth-year veteran intercepted quarterback Robert Griffin III's pass to Brown at Baltimore's 42-yard line. After a 39-yard pass from Haskins to McLaurin, Haskins plowed into the end zone two plays later on a one-yard run to make the score 31-17.
Fuller now has eight-career interceptions, six of which have come in a Washington uniform.
"It was a little bit more settling," Fuller said of playing in his second game this season. "Just little things like having your pregame routine down. Just certain little things that you do before the game. So just having that comfort level with just getting one game in your system and things like that. It definitely felt a little better this week."
5. Washington kept up with Baltimore in the box score, but not on the scoreboard.
There were several high moments in Washington's loss. Aside from Haskins' best statistical passing performance, McLaurin had 10 receptions for 118 yards, and the offense put up 343 total yards.
The only problem was that the Ravens managed to hang 31 points on Washington while it could only muster two touchdowns and a field goal.
Most of Washington's points have come in the second halves of games. It put up 20 points against the Eagles, 15 against the Cardinals and 13 against the Browns in the final two quarters of those games.
Washington did cut into Baltimore's lead with Haskins' touchdown in the fourth quarter. But at that point, Baltimore had already put the game out of reach with 10 points of their own.
There were opportunities for Washington to score sooner. The offense marched 82 yards down the field on a 17-play drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock. The score would have been 28-17 had the team found its way into the end zone. Instead, Haskins' pass to Isaiah Wright was short of the goal line, and the Ravens were able to milk the clock for the rest of the game.