The Washington Football Team continued their winning streak with a masterful defensive performance in a 23-15 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Arizona. The relocated 49ers ended up with their second straight loss and are falling out of the playoff picture. Washington on the other hand by virtue of the New York Giants loss find themselves in first place in the NFC East with three games remaining. Let’s take a look back at the game.
- Chase Young- At this point I am running out of superlatives to describe him. When you hear of a defensive player taking over a game, that performance yesterday was it. Young finished with 6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Young was relentless and imposed his will all over the field. Young and his partners on the defensive line beat up the 49ers all day. Definitely worth the second overall pick, not a debate and it truly never was.
- Kamren Curl- Chase Young and Antonio Gibson are the 2020 draft picks that received all the attention this season. The 1st and 3rd rounders are both contenders for rookie of the year (side note the second round pick was traded in 2019 to move up and draft Montez Sweat which is also a great move,) but another player that has made a huge impact is 7th rounder Kamren Curl. Originally playing in some nickel sets took over full time for starter and captain Landon Collins. Curl has been an absolute steal and has played better than Collins had been this season. His 76 yard interception return for a touchdown was the winning margin and he is all over the field.
- The Defense- The entire defense played with an aggression that we have not seen in Washington in years. The defense imposed the game on the 49ers from start to finish and even while making a few mistakes they controlled the game. Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio came up with a good scheme to stop the zone run scheme of the 49ers. At all levels from Montez Sweat, Da’Ron Payne, Jon Bostic, Kevin Pierre-Louis, to Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby. This team will go as far as the defense can take them.
- First Half Offense- Once again the offense struggled in the first half. Partly because of quarterback Alex Smith’s calf injury, but the offense was out of sorts. If it wasn’t for Chase Young’s touchdown right before the half the team would have been behind again. This offense misses Antonio Gibson and did not use Peyton Barber enough. Hopefully coordinator Scott Turner can find some balance because you will need points to defeat the Seattle Seahawks next week.
- QB Play- Both quarterbacks had struggles in yesterday’s game, however there were some good plays as well. Alex Smith seemed off kilter from the start and ended up out with a strained calf as a precautionary measure. Smith’s best play was an incomplete pass to Robert Foster deep where Foster slowed down. That should have been a walk in touchdown. Dwayne Haskins came in and starting the second half the offense had its best drive of the game. But that 3rd and goal where Haskins backpedaled and had a horrible throw. To finish this run Washington will need a QB to step up.
- State Farm Stadium Turf- The 49ers relocation to the Arizona Cardinals stadium has cause their grass field to take a beating recently. In hosting it’s third game in eight days the turf was pretty chewed up for yesterday’s game. There were players on both sides slipping and hopefully no injuries occurred because of it. The Cardinals host the Eagles there Sunday and the 49ers will play the Cardinals the day after Christmas. Hopefully it gets fixed.
- Place Kickers- All over the NFL yesterday field goal kickers struggled yesterday. Dan Bailey of the Minnesota Vikings missed three field goals and an extra point, which is to say the least is not good. Dustin Hopkins missed his first kick yesterday but was able to kick three more field goals and two extra points. Hopkins is streaky which now makes him six for his last seven. It’s a tough job but definitely needed.
- Former Teammates- Former Washington players on the 49ers had little impact on the game. Tight End Jordan Reed had two receptions for 13 yards while Tackle Trent Williams was mostly quiet dealing with Chase Young and Montez Sweat. The vestiges of the former regime were good to see but this Washington team is different and the past is the past.
- NFC East- The New York Giants lead on the division came to a halt by the Arizona Cardinals and their schedule gets no easier with games against the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens next. The Philadelphia Eagles benched Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts led them to an upset of the New Orleans Saints. The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Cincinnati Bengals to keep pace. If Washington can win out, the division is won and that should be the only thing on the team’s mind.