First came the mistakes. Then arrived the mauling. The Washington Football Team was thoroughly outplayed in Buffalo Sunday, digging an early 21-0 hole behind two turnovers and then looking defenseless against Bills' quarterback Josh Allen.
10. REVOLTING ROUT - It's never a good sign when the opposing quarterback has three touchdown passes before you've earned your second first down. This was simply a beat-down mismatch from the opening kickoff. By the time Buffalo Bills' quarterback Josh Allen hit tight end Dawson Knox with a 14-yard score early in the second quarter, it was 21-0 and the rout was on. Washington fought back to make it a game, but a 21-0 deficit on the road to a Super Bowl contender is a losing recipe.
9. PREFERRED PYLON - Just when it appeared WFT was going to get blown out of upstate New York before you even got comfy on the couch, it scored consecutive touchdowns punctuated by impressive, athletic dives into the same end-zone pylon. First, it was running back Antonio Gibson weaving, sprinting and ultimately diving his way to a 73-yard touchdown on a screen pass. After a quick, quirky turnover, quarterback Taylor Heinicke then touched the same pylon to put an exclamation point on his lunging 4-yard scramble that sliced Buffalo's initial 21-0 lead to 21-14.
8. ROOKIE SHINES - On Buffalo's second drive it went for a fourth-and-two deep in WFT territory, only to have the play blown up by a perfect read and tackle by rookie linebacker Jamin Davis. Well, we had to find something positive about this game. There it is. Period.
7. HIS NAME IS COLE BEASLEY - And he wears No. 11 for the Bills. Plays slot receiver. Long blonde hair. Ring a bell? Just thought we'd help out the WFT defense in identifying Buffalo's cat-quick target, because obviously Washington didn't find him all day. Beasley finished with 11 catches for 98 yards.
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6. TAYLOR SWIFT? - In his first NFL road start, Heinicke played like a frenetic quarterback desperate to win a job instead of a calm veteran trying to keep one. The quarterback's superior mobility again helped him make plays, creating time in the pocket and using his speed to score on the touchdown run. But he too often played "hero ball", forcing throws into high-risk situations, catching his own batted pass, losing yardage trying to bounce a fourth-down quarterback sneak to the outside and once launching a pass beyond the line of scrimmage for a penalty. His bad decision and late throw led to second-quarter interception that helped propel Buffalo to its 21-0 lead. His panicked pick late in the third quarter could have been intercepted by three different Bills, and led to a Buffalo field goal that slammed the door at 36-14. Even when Heinicke was calm in the pocket and hit a receiver in stride, rookie Dyami Brown dropped the perfect pass and turned a first down into a punt.
5. WAKE-UP CALL - Here's WFT's reality: It is one questionable offside penalty on the New York Giants from being 0-3. Yikes. Sunday's embarrassing 22-point loss in Buffalo is the team's most lopsided defeat since a 31-point (47-16) blowout in the 2019 season finale at Dallas.
4. HUSTLING HOPKINS - On the ropes down, 21-0, WFT rallied to within to seven points in the span of two plays in the first half. Following Gibson's touchdown, WFT kicker Dustin Hopkins sent a savvy, high kickoff into the Buffalo gusty wind. The knuckling ball hit the turf and took a backward bounce into a gaggle of players before ricocheting into the sliding arms of - sure enough - Hopkins. You'll sometimes see a kicker recover an on-side kick, but rarely fall on his own kick 60 yards downfield.
3. GET WELL SOON - Ryan Fitzpatrick, all is forgiven. The steady, veteran quarterback known for his conservative reads and safe check-downs sure sounds good right about now. While he nurses an injured hip, his backup is essentially running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
2. CHASING DONUTS - Don't look now, but the 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year has vanished in 2021. Or, more accurately, he's never shown up. In 123 drop-backs by opposing quarterbacks, Chase Young has zero sacks. Facing no consistent pressure Allen shredded WFT's defense, completing 32 of 43 for 358 yards and four touchdowns. The Bills improved to 23-2 when their quarterback completes at least 60 percent of his passes.
1. FALSE STARTS - Not sure exactly what WFT head coach Ron Rivera's pre-game speech sounds like, but may we suggest a tweak or two? Let's face it, at this point Washington isn't good enough to spot every - or any - opponent a touchdown lead. But that's exactly what has occurred this season as WFT's defense has allowed three consecutive game-opening drives in falling into early 7-0 holes. When do we begin asking if WFT's vaunted defense is a tad overrated?