After an excruciating loss to the Cleveland Browns last week the Washington Commanders were officially knocked out of playoff contention. With that, their season seemingly ended a week early at the very moment the scoreboard hit triple zeros. After such a gut-wrenching loss it would be assumed that they would just roll over in their final game of the season. However, there was still work left to be done to finish the season for this year’s Washington Commanders team.
Furthermore, they looked to finish the season off on a high note against their arch nemesis, Dallas. As the Washington Commanders wanted to play spoiler to the Dallas Cowboys’ efforts to try and win the division title. Which gave the Commanders an extra incentive to go out there and play inspiring football.
Subsequently, that is exactly what Washington would do; as they were dominate in every phase for the duration of the game. Seemingly, it was as if the two teams had switched roles. As the Washington Commanders was the team who played like they had something more to play for, and the Dallas Cowboys were the ones going through the motions as if their season was over.
In addition, the Washington Commanders were also able to get a first-hand look at fifth-round draft pick, Sam Howell, who made his first career start on Sunday. Although, you would have not known he was the one making his NFL debut. As he was able to clearly outplay veteran quarterback, Dak Prescott; which greatly contributed to the Washington Commanders getting the big victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Sam Howell Makes NFL Debut
Following last week’s debacle of a game from Carson Wentz, the Washington Commanders needed to make a change at the quarterback position. Coupled with the Washington Commanders now being eliminated from the playoffs; they turned to their fifth-round draft pick, Sam Howell, to take over the offense.
The last time that Washington Commanders’ fans had a look at Sam Howell was during the preseason. Where he impressed people with some of his late game heroics and his sneaky athleticism; which allowed for him to make some big plays with his legs.
Alongside his arm talent to throw the deep ball, many were calling for him to take over after the loss to the San Francisco 49ers a few weeks ago. Thus, when it was announced that Howell would be getting the nod to start many people were excited to see how it would play out.
Nonetheless, it would be a roller coaster type of game for Howell. As he had some highs and lows throughout the game. Which was to be expected from a rookie quarterback making his first career start. However, he was able to bounce back from his mistakes and put on a solid performance for his first NFL action.
Moreover, for Sam Howell and the Commanders his first career start couldn’t have gone any better than how it did. As he would go 11/19 for 116-yards to go along with two touchdowns and one interception. Considering the circumstances of this being the first week he has gotten a lot of reps; outside of running the scout team offense in practice. Howell was able to show great poise and show some great flashes throughout the game.
In addition, Howell would get off to a blazing start after he was given amazing field position to begin his first possession of the game. With that; just two plays into the possession he would get his first completion and first touchdown of his career all in the same play. As he was able to connect with Terry McLaurin on a drag route. Which he would turn into a 16-yard reception as he walked into the end zone untouched.
Sam Howell's first NFL pass attempt goes for a TD to Terry McLaurin!
📺: #DALvsWAS on FOX
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/2tZrKMRiWu pic.twitter.com/6a0KfqblwI
— NFL (@NFL) January 8, 2023
However, Howell would show his inexperience a couple of possessions later. As the Washington Commanders found themselves once again in the Dallas Cowboys’ territory following a big pass interference penalty on third down. Unfortunately, Washington wouldn’t be able to cash in after the big penalty. As Sam Howell would get picked off in the end zone after trying to fit a ball into triple coverage.
Following that point, the Washington Commanders’ offense would stall for the remainder of the first half and majority of the second half. Ensuing a missed field goal and a series of three consecutive three and outs to start the second half.
Though, Howell and the offense would find some rhythm at the end of the third quarter. As he was able to connect with Jahan Dotson for a pair of big plays that went for 20+ yards each. A few plays later the Washington Commanders were back in the red zone and threatening to score.
After that, Howell would show off his athletic ability on a quarterback power run. As he would break loose and run through a couple of Cowboys’ defenders on his way into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game.
Ensuing his big touchdown run Howell would go on to show off his big arm talent on the following drive. As he unleashed an absolute bomb to hit Terry McLaurin in stride up the right sideline for 52-yards. This allowed for the Washington Commanders to get into Cowboys’ territory where they ultimately would kick through a field goal to go up 23-6.
In conclusion, while Sam Howell didn’t put up jaw dropping numbers in his career debut. He was still able to put some great things out on tape and gain some much-needed experience. As he could end up being who the Washington Commanders go to next season; as they continue their search to find their franchise quarterback.
Washington Commanders Defense and Special Teams Overpower Cowboys
In a game where the Washington Commanders could have come out lackadaisical and go through the motions; after being vacated from their playoff spot following their agonizing defeat the week before. The Washington Commanders’ defense made sure that was not going to be the case. As they made sure to leave their thumbprint on the game from the opening kick.
As previously stated above, the Washington Commanders’ defense put on a dominating performance from the opening drive to the time when the clocks hit triple zeros. With that, their defense was able to impose their will for the duration of the game. Limiting the Dallas Cowboys’ offense to only 182-yards of total offense for the entirety of the game.
Furthermore, this was a result of the Commanders’ defense being able to completely shut down their running game. Which they held to only 64-yards for the game. While also, having the defensive line be relentless in their pass rush. Thus, allowing for them to get pressure on Dak Prescott; which clearly impacted him and his erratic throws.
The Commanders’ special teams also didn’t waste any time making sure that their impact was felt. Delivering an immediate spark to the team on the opening passion, as they were able to force a turnover on downs following a fumbled snap from the Cowboys’ punter. In addition, special teams would deliver a big play just three possessions later. As they were able to recover the ball after a muffed punt; which once again gave the offense great starting position.
The defense would join the party as they were able to force a turnover just a few possessions later. With Kendall Fuller coming close to picking off Dak Prescott; as he tried to throw the ball away after being flushed out of the pocket. Unfortunately, Fuller wasn’t able to haul the ball in for the interception. However, as fate would have it the very next play Prescott threw at Fuller again; although this time he was able jump the out route and intercept the pass for his second pick six of the season.
Pick 6 for @KeFu11er 👏👏👏
📺 #DALvsWAS FOX pic.twitter.com/xwzx7DOxL6
— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) January 8, 2023
Ensuing Fuller’s pick six it gave the Commanders’ an immediate boost. As the defense’s dominance was on full display. With them being able to seemingly hold the Dallas Cowboys’ offense to a three and out on 9 out of the next 11 possessions they had.
Outside of the one scoring drive that the Washington Commanders’ gave up just before halftime. Where the Cowboys would go on their longest drive of the game. As they went on a 77-yard drive which they capped off with a 15-yard touchdown pass to receiver, CeeDee Lamb. Washington’s defense had the Dallas Cowboys’ offense in a chokehold all game long.
Overall, this was a game where the Washington Commanders’ defense led the charge to allow for them to be in complete control for the duration of the game. They dominated all day long and never once was the game in question as to who was going to win. As they set the tone from the jump and left the Cowboys in their rearview after scoring on their first possession.
However, this was a bittersweet victory for the Washington Commanders. Being that the very intensity and fight they showed on Sunday was the exact way they needed to play the week before to keep their playoff hopes alive. Now instead of preparing for another week of football, they now must pack up their lockers and head into an early offseason following a very impressive win.
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