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Washington Loses 20-16 to Chargers: What Went Wrong?

A deep dive into how Week 1 went down for Washington

Football is back and the NFL's only 'football team' started the year with a loss on Sunday as the WFT fell to the Los Angeles Chargers 20-16.

Also, at FedExField, another loss, as new QB Ryan Fitzpatrick exited the game due to injury.

Starting the game with the defense on the field for the Washington Football Team is exactly how most would prefer. But it was the Chargers who left the first drive of the game happy as they quickly worked into the red zone, and after a third-down penalty on Washington defensive lineman James Smith-Williams got running back Austin Ekeler into the end zone, just two plays later.

It took two possessions for Washington to find their first points of the year. 

On that drive, it was running back Antonio Gibson who provided the spark with a 27-yard explosive run to the Chargers' 17-yard line. 

The drive resulted ultimately in a field goal, however. A particularly painful result given a missed facemask on Gibson's next run which would have resulted in a new set of downs, much closer to the end zone. 

Los Angeles had a 7-6 lead following a second Dustin Hopkins field goal, and on their fourth drive of the game had plays gain 18, 17, and 22-yards. 

The result was another red-zone possession. Their second of the game. 

Keenan Allen dropped what would have been a first-and-goal producing pass on third down from the Washington 15-yard line, and the Chargers settled for a field goal. The score extended their lead to 10-6, with just over nine minutes remaining in the first half. 

While the Chargers' fourth possession ended with points, Washington's fourth ended with a punt and a new quarterback as Fitzpatrick was injured on a first down play after getting hit by defensive lineman, Uchenna Nwosu.

Taylor Heinicke came in in relief of Fitzpatrick and promptly overthrew rookie wide receiver Dyami Brown twice, leading to the aforementioned punt.

Washington and Los Angeles traded field goals to end the first half and went into the locker rooms with the visitors leading 13-9. 

Each team had one explosive play each, with the Chargers having several who just missed 'explosive' designation. 

Statistically, Los Angeles had a big advantage in several key areas which would lead most to assume they had a bigger lead. 

For example, the Chargers had 16 first downs compared to just six for Washington. L.A. also had a 56% third down conversion rate, while the WFT converted just one, for a 20% rate.

Justin Herbert's offense was also on the field for 21:11 in the first half, while Fitzpatrick and Heinicke kept their units on the field for a combined 8:49.

READ MORE: Latest WFT Roster Moves

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Coming out of halftime it was made official Fitzpatrick would not be coming back after suffering a hip injury. So it was on Heinicke to lead the comeback, and he got off to a pretty solid start in the third quarter. 

Washington's first drive of the half ended with their first touchdown of the year after Heinicke found tight end, Logan Thomas, in the endzone for an 11-yard touchdown. 

Before that though, wide receiver Terry McLaurin brought in a 37-yard pass from Heinicke that honestly looked like a duck. 

Alls well that ends well, and Washington took their first lead of the game. After the Hopkins extra point, it was 16-13, WFT.

The Heinicke half of greatness continued on their next possession as well. 

After an incredible fumble call on a Montez Sweat strip-sack, Washington got the ball back via touchback as the ball went out of the endzone. 

On the ensuing possession, Heinicke had several solid plays including a shovel pass that sent FedEx Field into a frenzy, which chants showing love to the team's backup quarterback. 

As exciting as the build-up was, a false start penalty on Brandon Scherff pushed Washington back, and eventually led to a missed 51-yard field goal try by Hopkins. 

So, it stayed 16-13 early in the fourth quarter, but not without a lot of drama. 

The missed field goal led to the Chargers' best starting field position of the game up to that point, getting it back at their own 41-yard line. 

Herbert and the Chargers went to work trying to regain the lead, but it was William Jackson III picking off the second-year quarterback at the goal line, targeting tight end Stephen Anderson.

One play later, elation turned to frustration as Washington running back Antonio Gibson fumbled the ball, giving it back to the Chargers at the WFT 3-yard line.

Three plays later Herbert found wide receiver Mike Williams in the end zone, giving Los Angeles back the lead. The extra point made it a four-point lead, with over eleven minutes remaining in the game. 

That's how it would end as well. Some other opportunities came and went, including a potential fourth and seven opportunity from the Chargers' 40-yard line. 

In the end though, Washington fell to 0-1 on the season, and will now face the New York Giants in four days, looking to even it out.

READ MORE: The 'Road to the Super Bowl' for the WFT