We are now past the halfway point of the Washington Commanders' 2023 season, and there have already been several highlight reel plays through the first nine games.
The Commanders are still getting adjusted to their new offensive scheme led by Eric Bieniemy, who brought his West Coast style with him from the Kansas City Chiefs. Still, there have been moments where the unit has shown its potential with Sam Howell distributing the ball to Washington's key playmakers.
So, let's take a look at five of the best offensive plays from the first half of the Commanders' season.
Jahan Dotson ties the score against the Patriots in Foxborough.
Let's get the more recent ones out of the way. Jahan Dotson was in a slump in the second quarter of the season. He was making uncharacteristic drops, and for a variety of reasons, he wasn't getting targeted as much as some expected.
However, he gave fans a reminder as to how exciting he can be.
The situation was second-and-10 at the Patriots 33-yard line. New England had just extended its lead to seven points with a 43-yard field goal to start the second half, and Washington, which had not scored since 12 minutes into the second quarter, needed a spark to get back on track.
Dotson provided that for them by blowing past the defensive back covering him. All Howell needed was three seconds to see him open. He laid out a pass to the end zone, and just as it looked like the ball might be out of his reach, he plucked it out of the air for his third touchdown of the season.
From there, all Washington needed to do was kick a field goal to take the lead on its next possession and run out the clock for the win.
Sam Howell keeps the drive alive with a 24-yard scramble.
This one didn't lead to points, but it was still one of the more impressive plays of the year from Howell.
The situation was third-and-23 at the Commanders' 44-yard line after a sack had backed up the Commanders' offense 13 yards. Howell, feeling pressure and unable to find an option downfield, escaped to his left and started running downfield.
As Howell closed in on the Patriots' 40-yard line, it looked like he was going to be sandwiched between two defenders short of the marker. But Howell shrugged off the would-be tacklers, and after regaining his balance, he finished the play by crossing the first-down line for the conversion.
Howell is joined by Patrick Mahomes as the only two quarterbacks this season to rush for a first down on a third down of at least 20 yards.
"He makes big plays when we need them the most," Dotson said. "That long third-down conversion run, that was big for us. We needed that."
The Commanders didn't end the drive in the end zone, but the play showed Howell's competitiveness and earned his teammates' respect.
Terry McLaurin ties the score against the Broncos.
The Commanders were in a fight to come back from one of the biggest deficits in franchise history against the Denver Broncos in Week 2.
Thanks to the arm of Russell Wilson and some poor play from the Commanders, Washington was down 21-3 on the road at Mile High Stadium. But the tide was starting to turn for the Burgundy & Gold after Jamin Davis recovered a fumble and Logan Thomas scored a touchdown before halftime to help make things 21-14.
Then the Commanders got on the field for their opening drive of the third quarter, and who else did they go to for a game-changing play but Terry McLaurin? With the ball at the Broncos' 30, Howell dropped back, saw McLaurin sprinting down the field and fired the ball in his direction.
McLaurin had two defenders around him, but that wasn't enough to stop him from leaping over both players to secure the ball in the end zone for a game-tying touchdown.
From there, Washington outscored the Broncos 14-12 and did just enough to come away from Colorado with a 35-33 win.
Brian Robinson runs through Atlanta's defense.
It's starting to become a yearly tradition for Brian Robinson Jr. to run over Falcons defenders.
Washington already had a 17-10 lead over Atlanta on the road, but after Kendall Fuller picked off a pass from Desmond Ridder and returned it to the Falcons' 27-yard line, the Commanders saw an opportunity to get up by two scores.
They only needed two plays to find paydirt. Howell sprinted out to his right, and just as it looked like the Falcons' defense was going converge on him, he dumped off a pass to Robinson for a screen play. Robinson secured the ball and weaved through his blockers and Falcons defenders before getting into the end zone to put the Commanders up 24-10.
He even bowled over a Falcons defensive back as a call back to last year's matchup with Atlanta, when he ran over a different player to give Washington a 7-3 lead.
Jahan Dotson ties the game against the Eagles in Week 4.
The Commanders were in a dire situation. A.J. Brown had just scored on a 28-yard pass from Jalen Hurts to give the Eagles a 31-24 lead, and with 1:43 left in regulation and no timeouts left, they had to move down the field quickly to give themselves a chance.
There were a few blemishes along the way, like a seven-yard sack on the second play of the drive, but an 11-yard catch by McLaurin on third-and-2 had the Commanders set up at the Eagles' 10-yard line. Howell's next pass to Curtis Samuel was incomplete, leaving them just two seconds left to score.
Howell didn't need long to find his target. He zipped out a pass to Dotson, who had to lean out to his left to make a play on cornerback Josh Jobe. Dotson snagged the pass, and with the extra point from Joey Slye, the score was tied at 31.
Washington didn't end up winning the game, but it did show that it could at least compete with one of the best teams in the NFL.