Washington Commanders fans are surely still catching their breath from the team’s rollercoaster win over Jacksonville. Everyone and their mother missed football, but I did NOT miss the stress that comes with it. Might as well set the stage for what is sure to be a chaotic season with Carson Wentz under center, though, right?
Like a proper redemption story in any classic film, Wentz went from hero in the first half to the main antagonist with back-to-back interceptions in the second half, before returning to hero status with two clutch touchdowns to Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson to bring the Commanders back in the fourth quarter.
While Wentz, Dotson, McLaurin (because of how clutch his touchdown was) and Curtis Samuel, who was the blood and soul of Washington’s offense for most of the first half, stole the show Sunday, let’s underline some players who were vital to the win, but whose contributions might get lost in the shuffle.
3 unsung heroes from the Commanders thrilling win over the Jaguars
3. Daron Payne
The Commanders’ defense was fortunate to only give up 22 points. The Jaguars moved the football with relative ease against Jack Del Rio’s unit. Between finding success in the running game and Trevor Lawrence doing whatever he wanted in the middle of the field, it wasn’t a great performance by the D.
Payne, on the other hand, came to play. So did others, but Payne delivered arguably the most important play of the game on a 3rd and 4 with 7:25 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Jaguars holding a 22-20 lead near midfield when he sacked Trevor Lawrence to put the Commanders back on the offensive.
Wentz responded by leading a 13-play, 90-yard drive that took just over five minutes off the clock and culminated in the Dotson game-winner. If Payne doesn’t make that play and Jacksonville converts, this game might’ve had a different ending.
Even before the clutch sack, Payne was a menace on third down. He generated multiple pressures on Lawrence and tipped a third down pass to end one drive.
If this is the version of Payne we’re going to see all season — we just might considering he’s playing for a new contract — the Commanders’ defensive line will be just fine, even with Phidarian Mathis suffering a potentially serious injury.