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WFT 30, Giants 29: Top 10 Observations

The biggest takeaways from Washington's pulsating rally past its NFC East rival

The 2021 season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Chargers was more than just an 'L' in the standings, but with the injury to starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, it was also the beginning of the Taylor Heinicke era in Washington.

That game also brought questions about the defense, which is supposed to be one of the better units in the league. The Washington defense allowed the Chargers to convert 14 of 17 third-down opportunities, and that Chargers' offense seemingly moved the ball at will.

READ MORE: WFT Finds a Win, and a Top 10 WR?

The division matchup on Thursday night would be a great opportunity for the Washington defense to get back on track after that disappointing debut last week.

Let's look at some observations from Thursday night's NFC East matchup:

10. FIRST LOSS FOR DANIEL - Giants quarterback Daniel Jones was 4-0 in his career against WFT before Thursday night's loss, and 4-19 against everyone else. On Thursday, Jones was 22 for 32 with 249 yards and one touchdown. While his special teams cost him a win with a ill-timed offsides penalty, his personal success seemingly continues. Jones was able to do it with his feet as well, rushing for 95 yards.

9. TAYLOR TIME IN WASHINGTON - While Washington continues to look for long-term answers at quarterback, the one they needed all along might have been in their lap the whole time. Heinicke was 34 of 46 for 336 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against the Giants' defense on Thursday and might have won over some doubters. He orchestrated an impressive 11-play, 50-yard drive at the end of the game to set up the game-winning field goal.

READ MORE: Whew: WFT Escapes New York Giants, 30-29

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8. NO 'D' IN D.C.? - The defensive struggles against the Chargers in Week 1 are well-documented, and valid. This is supposed to be a strength of the club, and for Washington to have success in repeating as NFC East division champions, it's going to have to be. Against the Giants on Thursday night, the Washington defense allowed 391 total yards and 21 first downs. While the Giants were only successful on four of 12 third down conversions, much like the Chargers they seemed to be able to move the ball at will. 

7. A FIELD OF YELLOW - In Week 1, Washington was penalized eight times for 57 yards. On Thursday it committed nine more for 80 yards, including a Chase Young roughing-the-passer penalty that resulted in a first-and-goal for the Giants.

6. STUCK IN THE MUD - Washington amassed only 87 yards rushing. We know there are questions on the offensive line, but the running game must be better in order to control the game and time-of-possession. Against the Chargers, the team ran for 126 yards, including 90 from running back Antonio Gibson. The No. 1 back led WFT again, but with only 69 yards on 13 carries against the Giants.

5. OPENING-DRIVE STRUGGLES - A good way for a team to set the tone of a game in their favor is to find a way to score points on their opening drive. But Washington has produced three-and-outs on each of their opening drives this season, gaining a total of -3 yards, including a 16-yard sack of Heinicke on third-and-3 from their own 30 yardline against the Giants on Thursday.

4. THANK YOU, DEXTER LAWRENCE! - An offsides penalty on Giants' defensive end Dexter Lawrence gave Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins a second chance on a missed 48-yard field goal to win the game as time expired.. The five yards enforced by the penalty made the kick a 43-yarder, and Hopkins squeaked it inside the right upright for the dramatic climax to a thrilling win. 

3. SACKMASTER GENERALS - Regardless of overall defensive struggles, there were some bright spots. After two sacks in Week 1 by Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat, Washington had four on Thursday with contributions from Allen (2), Sweat, and Kendall Fuller. 

2. MCLAURIN'S THE MAN - The Washington wide receiver continues to make a case as one of the best in the game, with an 11-catch, 107-yard performance with a touchdown on 14 targets.

1. KICK HIM THE BALL! - Washington's Deandre Carter had an outstanding game returning kicks on Thursday night. The 5-foot-8, 188-pound receiver returned four kickoffs for 83 yards, averaging 20.8 yards per return.

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