What more can you say? Just when you think a mind-numbing Taylor Heinicke interception cost the Washington Commanders a must-have game, the underdog quarterback leads another improbable fourth-quarter comeback.
Of course, his-game winning touchdown run doesn’t happen if not for Terry McLaurin, who hauled in a catch-of-the-year candidate in the NFL this season on a Heinicke prayer that set Washington up with a 1st and goal. One of the game’s best receivers in contested catch situations, McLaurin out-jumped and out-muscled Stephon Gilmore, a former Defensive Player of the Year, to make the grab.
Just incredible. Another chapter is added to the Heinicke legend. And more importantly, the Commanders claw their way back to .500 and are now entrenched in the playoff picture in a jumbled NFC.
While Heinicke and McLaurin spearheaded the comeback win on the final drive, plenty of other Commanders contributed to the victory, so let’s highlight some studs and duds from Sunday’s pulsating victory in Indianapolis.
Commanders studs and duds from Week 8 win vs the Colts
Stud: Antonio Gibson
The Antonio Gibson redemption tour continues! Just three weeks ago the coaching staff seemingly forgot Gibson was still on the team. Now, he’s back where he belongs as one of the offense’s most important weapons. Perhaps the Colts didn’t do enough film study this week because Gibson was open all game as Taylor Heinicke’s check down and the two connected for the game’s first touchdown in the second quarter.
That marks two straight games that Gibson’s scored the Commanders’ first touchdown. Doesn’t get much better than that. And to think teams around the NFL called Washington about trading for him. He’s not going anywhere!
Stud: Jonathan Allen
Late in the second quarter, Washington’s defense was on the ropes, allowing chunk yards on multiple running plays after Jonathan Taylor (ankle) reentered the game. Enter Allen, who went beast mode once Indy stepped foot in the red zone, blowing up a running play for a four-yard loss before sacking Sam Ehlinger, who fumbled on the play for a game-changing turnover.
Allen’s stats are down relative to his Pro Bowl season last year, but he’s arguably making a bigger impact week-to-week in 2022, if that makes any sense.
Dud: No urgency before halftime
The Commanders’ end-of-half game/clock management has been confounding all season and it continued into Week 8.
In retrospect, we’re fine with not wanting to give Aaron Rodgers the ball back with time on the clock, but the fact Washington went conservative in its two-minute drill with Sam Ehlinger on the opposing sideline was infuriating.
Playing with a lead and against a limited quarterback, the coaching staff likely didn’t want to take any unnecessary/momentum-shifting risks before halftime. We’d list those reasons as why Rivera and Co. should’ve been smelling blood in the water.
Just once this season we’d like to see some urgency to score before halftime, but we’re not holding our breath. Peyton Manning was at Lucas Oil Stadium and was spotted on the Colts sideline, but he wasn’t in uniform!