Following the Washington Commanders dominating performance last week against the Houston Texans. They looked to keep things rolling as they traveled back home to host the Atlanta Falcons. This was a game that had significant playoff implications for the two teams. As they are both currently vying for a Wild Card spot.
Coming into the game it was expected that it would be a ground and pound type of game. Being that these two teams are mirroring images of one another; as both the Washington Commanders and Atlanta Falcons ethos this season has been to wear teams down with the run game.
So, the game would come down to which defense could limit the run game the best. Which seemed to favor the Commanders’ defense who has been able to dominate in the trenches with their elite defensive line.
As predicted it was a rough and rugged battle between the two teams; with both teams emphasizing their running game. Which resulted in the two squads rushing for over 150 yards for the game.
Though, this was an unprecedented performance from a Commanders’ defense that has been tremendous at stuffing the run game. However, the Atlanta Falcons running back committee which included quarterback; Marcus Mariota, were able to gash the defense for some big plays.
Moreover, it was back and forth for the duration of the game; as the game went down to the wire. Fortunately for the Commanders they were able to secure the much-needed victory to keep their playoff hopes intact. As the Commanders’ defense was able get a game winning turnover; to continue their streak of forcing a turnover in each of their last seven games.
Which was befitting that on the day where the Commanders unveiled their tribute in memory of legendary safety; Sean Taylor. The defense were the ones to seal the Commanders victory over the Atlanta Falcons; to improve their winning streak to three games.
Brian Robinson Jr Career Day Against Atlanta Falcons
Throughout the course of the past seven games Washington has been committed to the run game. As they have been able to get great production from their rookie standout; Brian Robinson Jr, to go along with his running mate; Antonio Gibson. Which has contributed greatly to their success over the course of their current three game winning streak.
Since Robinson’s return in Week 6 following the tragic shooting he suffered during an armed robbery back in August; he has been at the forefront as it pertains to helping lead the charge for the Commanders’ during their recent success. Although he is just in his rookie season he has showed great running prowess this season. With his patience to find running lanes to go along with his tough and physical running style.
Which was on full display against the Atlanta Falcons as Robinson had himself a breakout performance. Resulting in him recording his first 100-yard game; as he rushed for 105-yards on 18 carries to go with his 14-yard receiving touchdown in the first quarter.
Standing at 6’1 and a stout 225 pounds, Robinson makes it tough for a single defender to be able to bring him down with how physical he runs the ball. Which he put on full display from the Commanders’ opening drive of the game. As he delivered the boom stick on two Atlanta Falcons’ defenders after Commanders’ quarterback; Taylor Heinicke, hit him in stride as he leaked out into the flat.
Once the ball reach Robinson’s hands he busted down the right sideline where he was met by two Atlanta Falcons’ defensive backs. Which seemingly was an unfair matchup as Robinson bulldozed through the both of them on his way to falling into the end zone to give Washington an early 7-3 lead over the Falcons.
Ensuing that drive it was evident that Washington wanted to make a concerted effort of running the ball to wear down the Falcons’ defense. As they spoon fed Robinson Jr. for the remainder of the game; as he received the lion share of the carries during the game.
Due to him being patient and waiting for his blocks to align for him to burst through into the second level of the defense. Robinson was able to consistently grind out tough yards for a five to seven-yard gain on each run. Which allowed for him to be able to wear down the Atlanta Falcons’ defense. In turn, this opened up the passing game where Taylor Heinicke was able to hit tight end; John Bates, for a touchdown to extend their lead to 19-13.
Ultimately, Brian Robinson Jr. was able to enforce his will onto the Falcons’ defense. Bursting free through tackles for some nice gains as he ran himself into having a career day. Which he then capped off by showing off his friends big-hat business; as he sported a humongous Washington Commanders hat.
Late Interception Saves the Game for Commanders
Since Ron Rivera took over the head coaching duties for the Commanders in 2020; the team’s success has always been predicated on how well the defense can perform. Which continues to be the theme for this year’s team as well. As over the past month Washington has been able to revitalize their season. Going 6-1in their last seven games after starting off with a horrid 1-4 record to start the season.
With that, it is no coincidence that the Commanders have had such great success recently; as the defense has been able to deliver some big-time performances. However as previously stated, this was an unprecedented game for the Commanders’ defense. As they gave up 167-yards rushing yards on 29 carries for the game.
The formula for the Falcons’ offense seemed to be to run the ball right at the Commanders’ elite defensive line. As they relied on a lot of double team blocks from their linemen to allow for their running backs to break free for some big gains. While also, incorporating a steady dose of read option from Marcus Mariota. Which allowed for them to open up their pass game as the Commanders’ defense began to key in on stopping the run. Thus, resulting in the Falcons’ receivers to get wide open for some big plays.
Despite the Commanders’ defense not having their best game statistically; as they allowed the most rushing yards since their Week 6 game against the Bears. They were still able to hold the Falcons to the fewest points they have scored this season. As a result of the Commanders’ defense only giving up one touchdown in the game; with the rest of the Falcons’ points coming from field goals.
In addition, the Commanders’ defense was able to keep them afloat; as the game was hanging in the balance for majority of the fourth quarter. The defense was able to get key stops on the final two possessions for the Atlanta Falcons; as they only needed a touchdown to win the game. As they were delivered on the biggest play of the game to essentially secure the win for the Commanders.
With the Commanders clinging on to a 19-13 lead with just over five minutes to go in the game. The Atlanta Falcons received the ball after the Commanders’ offense went three and out. After a couple of plays that went for decent gains the Falcons’ would break loose for a big time play to place them in prime scoring position. As receiver; Olamide Zacchaeus, broke free for a 45-yard gain on a broken play where it looked like Mariota would be sacked.
After an offside penalty from Commanders’ defensive end; Montez Sweat, the Atlanta Falcons’ now found themselves at the 2-yard line with just over a minute left in the game. Ensuing a broken play from Mariota that went for negative yards. Washington used up their final timeout in hopes that the defense would be able to keep the Falcons from scoring the winning touchdown.
On the very next play the Commanders’ defense would come up with the biggest play of the game. As defensive lineman; Daron Payne, was able to get a hand on the ball as Mariota was attempting to hit is receiver in the end zone. With the ball sputtering in the air; cornerback Kendall Fuller was able to come back to the ball and make a diving effort to catch the ball to get the game winning interception. Thus, helping the Commanders’ secure the hard-fought victory to extend their winning streak to three games.
Now the Commanders’ must shift their focus onto next week as they head to New York to face off against division rival; New York Giants. As they look to maintain their spot in the final Wild Card slot and extend their winning streak to four games.