LANDOVER, Md. - It was No. 2 versus No. 1 at FedExField on Sunday and the second-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft won the 'battle' partially by technical knock-out.
WFT's Chase Young had himself a fine game - though QB Joe Burrow, the top-overall pick, was well on his way too, before what sustaining a likely season-ending left knee injury.
By a 20-9 score, the Washington Football Team won a game between the two worst teams in the league last year and two of the worst this year, but that wasn't the real story.
Burrow's injury is devastating. He tweeted out that he's done for the year but Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor said he had no official news. NFL Network is reporting that the injury is a torn ACL.
The rookie QB was hit high and low at the same time by Jonathan Allen (low) and Montez Sweat (high) off the left edge. The play was not penalized and didn't appear dirty other than Allen contacting Burrow on or slightly above the left knee, from what it appeared.
READ MORE: Fish on Burrow Down and OUT
Burrow was on his way to an outstanding day (22-34, 203 yards, TD) and rookie year.
"He's a heck of a young man and a heck of a football player," WFT coach Ron Rivera said. "I know he'll be back."
Said Young of Burrow, who was his teammate at Ohio State before the QB transferred to LSU: "You never want to see that. I was hurting, man. I was hurting because I know Joe. I wanted to keep playing against Joe."
The Bengals fell apart on offense without their young leader and with backup Ryan Finley at quarterback.
Before the injury, Washington had trouble with the Bengals' quick-passing offense. Burrow was able to lead Cincinnati down the field on their opening drive but that ended in a missed 34-yard field goal.
Young made his first impact play on the third-down play before the miss, rushing off the right edge of the defense and pushing the left tackle back towards Burrow, almost swatting the ball and perhaps helping force the incompletion.
NFL Mock Draft: Guru Predicts Washington Will Select Franchise Quarterback
ESPN's Mel Kiper expects WFT to draft a replacement for Taylor Heinicke, Ryan Fitzpatrick, etc.
LISTEN: Could Washington Corral Itself a Franchise QB?
Locked On Washington Football Team: Quarterback shopping and uniform clues
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson 'Exploring Options': Washington Must Explore Trade
Part of Rivera's job - and his list of duties here is an admittedly long one - is to build a Super Bowl contender ... and to sell the world on that vision.
Soon after, Young made the most impactful play of the game and perhaps the Washington season. The Bengals were rolling the dice on fourth down from the three-yard line. Burrow scrambled to his right and appeared to be on his way into the end zone when Young played demolition derby on the QB, knocking the ball out of his hand and forcing a turnover.
READ MORE: Ten Takes to Kick Off Thanksgiving Week
The play was initially ruled a fumble, recovery and safety by the officials but was correctly changed to a fumble, recovery and touchback in favor of Washington.
Young also smartly read a screen pass from Burrow soon after and finished with three tackles, a pass defense and the critical forced fumble - and in our estimation an energy that helped fuel this effort.
It had been a weird week for Young. He made a mistake late in Detroit that led to way too many people that quite honestly have no idea what they're talking about criticizing Young.
A Washington Post columnist known for his baseball acumen wrote the following: “I’m still waiting for the 'Real Chase Young' to show up,” Tom Boswell wrote. “Young is a good pro, a high-energy player, but, so far, not an impact star — or close to it. You don’t feel his presence. He doesn’t distort opposing offenses and is often handled, even schooled, one-on-one, by tackles who outweigh him by 60 pounds.”
It's not exactly calling Young a "bust'' but the criticism hints at that. And the criticism is inaccurate.
"Good'' is different than "great'' but to say the "Real Young'' hasn't made his presence is not an opinion shared by his coaches - or by opposing coaches.
"Often handled, even schooled, one-on-one" is also not true, in terms of what happens on most plays.
"I know who we have in terms of the young man he is," Rivera said to SI.com's question on this subject. "I know what he's going to be for us for a long time. I think he's done a great job. He played hard. He does things the right way and he's learning."
Young won this battle between the two top picks in the NFL Draft and their respective teams. He's going to win a lot more before his career is over. And the smart prediction is he'll do it in such an impactful way that no naysayer will be able to deny it.