Entering its Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills, the biggest question surrounding the Washington Football Team wasn't the play of quarterback Taylor Heinicke but rather the performance of its defense.
Or lack thereof.
By the end, Washington would fall to 1-2 with a 43-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills. How did we get here?
Having given up a touchdown on their opponent's first drives in each of their games before this one, everyone was hoping to see some improvement by way of a scoreless first possession for the Bills. Even a field goal would have been a small victory.
What we got was an eight-play drive netting 75 yards which ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Bills' quarterback Josh Allen to wide receiver, Emmanuel Sanders.
Making this latest opening-drive score more frustrating than the usual version is the fact Washington's defense had Buffalo facing a 3rd-and-15, just to give up a 23-yard pass from Allen to wide receiver Gabriel Davis.
The Bills' quarterback has been struggling to get off to an MVP-type start expected of him by many, but on the first drive of the game, Allen completed five of his six pass attempts for 76-yards and the touchdown.
In contrast, Heinicke finished with two completions on two passes for 11 yards, but Washington was forced to punt after three plays because of an offensive pass interference call. The flag was thrown on running back J.D. McKissic and negated a 16-yard completion from Heinicke to wide receiver Terry McLaurin.
Instead of a first down, Washington faced a 3rd-and-12 and after an 11-yard gain gave the ball back to Buffalo.
The second drive of the game for Heinicke and the WFT offense got a little better, and also a lot worse when the quarterback completed a pass to tight end Logan Thomas only to see it fumbled at midfield.
Thomas' fumble was recovered by Bills linebacker Matt Milano at their own 48-yard line.
After two possessions, the Washington offense was 0-for-2 on third down and had given the ball away once, trailing 7-0.
So, not a good start for the burgundy and gold.
Buffalo got its second score of a game on a pass from Allen to running back Zack Moss, giving their team a 14-0 lead.
On Washington's third drive of the game, it was more of the same, with a different look, as Heinicke floated an interception into the hands of Buffalo safety Jordan Poyer.
The second giveaway of the game for the WFT set up the Buffalo Bills offense on the 17-yard line going in, and Allen promptly found the end zone just three plays later.
Allen's third touchdown pass of the game found tight end, Dawson Knox, from 14-yards out. The extra point gave Buffalo a 21-0 lead, and nothing was going right for Washington in the first half.
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The WFT's fourth drive of the game was their shortest of the half, but this time it was for a good reason. On the first second down of the possession, running back Antonio Gibson took a screen pass from Heinicke and ran with it the rest of the way for a 73-yard touchdown.
It was Washington's first score, and really their first positive play of the game. And cut the lead from 21 to 14, with just under ten minutes remaining in the first half.
If the first half wasn't already enough of a roller coaster of emotion, the ensuing kickoff following Gibson's score was booted high, hit the ground, and was recovered by Washington's special teams.
The recovery gave the ball back to the WFT offense at the Buffalo 24-yard line. Suddenly, momentum was breaking Washington's direction.
Heinicke didn't waste the valuable opportunity to get his team back in it, and on second down, ran the ball in from four yards out for the team's second touchdown of the game.
Down just seven points all of the sudden, big plays by the offense and special teams trimmed a 21-point deficit to just seven in just over three minutes of play.
That would be about all the excitement Washington fans would witness however, as the two teams entered halftime with Buffalo up 13-points after two late first-half field goals by kicker, Tyler Bass.
The second half didn't offer any reprieve from the frustrations for Washington faithful watching the game.
Washington's offense started the half with a punt, to which Buffalo responded with 17 plays, 98 yards, and a five-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Allen's fourth scoring throw of the game.
Heinicke's second drive of the third quarter ended with a terrible decision and interception, and the Bills responded with a field goal to push their lead to 22.
The killer fourth-down conversion attempt came with 11:41 remaining in the fourth quarter. On 4th-and-1, Heinicke attempted a quarterback sneak from his own 23-yard line and was stonewalled by the Bills defense, resulting in a turnover on downs.
Three plays later, Allen scrambled to the right and into a wide-open end zone for his fifth touchdown of the day.
To his credit, Heinicke never stopped fighting back and was able to orchestrate a 10-play drive capped off by a touchdown pass to tight end Logan Thomas with 5:21 remaining.
For a team with division title goals though, effort alone isn't enough.
Washington was never truly in the game it would seem, and even against a true competitor in the AFC like the Bills, this is more than just one team losing to a better team.
There are a lot of questions needing to be answered, and they start with the coaching staff. Plenty more will come of those conversations.
As ugly as it was, it's one loss, and doesn't count for more than that. When the dust settles, the Washington Football Team is 1-2 and now gets set to head to Georgia, where they'll face the 0-3 Atlanta Falcons in Week 4 of the 2021 NFL Season.