For three quarters, the Washington Commanders hung around against the Buffalo Bills. Even though their offense was stuck in reverse all day, it was just a two-score game as the Commanders took over for the first time in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for Washington, Buffalo’s defense was just too relentless throughout the afternoon, and they put the finishing touches on the Commanders in that final period of play. Buffalo took a 16-0 contest and opened up a 37-0 lead, only ceding a field goal with 46 seconds left after head coach Ron Rivera opted for the moral victory of avoiding the shutout.
Buffalo was able to control most of Washington’s top players for much of the day, though it was an atrocious performance by second-year quarterback Sam Howell (19/29, 170 yards, four interceptions, nine sacks taken) that really sealed the deal.
Here’s how our five Commanders to watch performed this week.
RB Brian Robinson Jr.
On the surface, Robinson’s line looks pretty great. He carried 10 times for 70 yards, spearheading a Washington rushing attack that was the most effective part of the day (13 carries for 105 yards). However, a negative game script towards the end of the contest meant that Robinson wouldn’t have the chance to carry the ball enough to swing the tide of the game, and even though he averaged seven yards per carry, he wasn’t exactly consistent in his gains throughout the day. He had carries of 23 yards, 13 yards, and 10 yards to prop up his average, but carried seven times for 14 yards total on his other rushes. Better quarterback play would have given Robinson a chance at making a greater impact on the final score of the game.
WR Terry McLaurin
The speedster was Washington’s top receiver, hauling in all six of his targets for 41 yards. He led the team in catches, but he was second in targets (tight end Cole Turner had seven) and second in receiving yards (Curtis Samuel had 54 thanks in large part to a 37-yard catch after he burned Christian Benford down the sideline). McLaurin didn’t have much chance to run after the catch given Buffalo’s defensive speed and their swarming defensive effort. Early in the game, McLaurin made some catches on hitch routes in front of Tre’Davious White, but the veteran corner had a phenomenal day overall (32 coverage snaps, six targets, three receptions allowed for 19 yards, one interception, 17.4 quarterback rating against).
DE Montez Sweat
For the second straight week, the Bills’ offensive line fended off a pass rush that had at least one elite player. This time, they faced a team that has two elite edge rushers, and the Bills kept quarterback Josh Allen upright all afternoon. Sweat had just one tackle and one quarterback hit on the day. Allen tried to goad Sweat (and the officials, really) into a late hit penalty, running towards the sideline and slowing up just enough so that Sweat had to push him as he crossed the white line. Allen did his best Lionel Messi impersonation, flopping well enough that he may have earned a look from the manager at D.C. United. However, referee Land Clark wasn’t buying it — and rightfully so — and Allen merely walked back towards the huddle talking and laughing with Sweat.
DE Chase Young
Another of Washington’s elite pass rushers, Young had a pedestrian day in his season debut during Week 2. He managed just three tackles and one tackle for loss on the day. He didn’t hit Allen, and his didn’t sack Buffalo’s quarterback, either. Allen wasn’t sacked in this one at all. The addition of guards O’Cyrus Torrence and Connor McGovern seems to have stabilized the line thus far, and right tackle Spencer Brown has played two consecutive outstanding games.
CB Kendall Fuller
The wily veteran had a solid day overall, as the Bills didn’t shy away from throwing at him. Fuller made them pay, notching a game-high three pass breakups and an interception of Josh Allen. Fuller was Washington’s highest-graded player, per Pro Football Focus, earning a 92.1 grade for the day. His interception came on a 50/50 ball intended for Gabe Davis on a 3rd & 20 that essentially served as an arm punt. Fuller went up to snare the interception, but landed hard and was down for a bit afterward. He returned to the game, which was definitely a positive sight. Fuller totaled eight tackles, and he was outstanding in coverage against anyone not named Stefon Diggs, who went off for eight catches and 111 yards. Diggs and Fuller were teammates in high school, which must have been electric to see (unless you were playing for the other team, of course...that could have been pretty demoralizing!).