The Washington Commanders absolutely stole one from the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Down 16-7 with 11:12 remaining, having not sustained an offensive drive in three quarters, the Commanders seemed dead in the water.
However, they managed to string together a few first downs en route to a field goal, stop Sam Ehlinger just short of a first down, and then get the game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds remaining.
Washington snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and they extend their win streak to three in a row. As of today, the Commanders are in a tie for the last wild card spot with the San Francisco 49ers. A team that looked like one of the worst teams in the NFL just three weeks ago, has suddenly rejuvenated their season and finds themselves right in the mix for a playoff spot.
As the Commanders enter a key two-game stretch against the NFC’s best, the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles, here are three key takeaways going forward for the Commanders.
3 takeaways from the Commanders’ come-from-behind win in Indy
3. The defense is starting to come into its own
Coming off of a disappointing 2021 campaign, some off-the-field comments (and tweets), as well as a slow start to 2022, Jack Del Rio’s seat may have been getting warm. That seat should be cooling off now for sure, as Washington’s defense has been heating up for well over a month now, and has been a catalyst for the three-game winning streak.
Players are beginning to settle into their roles. Kam Curl is a massive stabilizer in the secondary and the defense has been totally different since he returned to the lineup in Week 3. McCain fills in nicely at the other safety spot, Benjamin St-Juste is staying healthy and improving, Kendall Fuller is playing more instinctively, and Rachad Wildgoose has been serviceable in the slot. Even Darrick Forrest has formed a solid role as a buffalo nickel and forced a huge fumble today on Jonathan Taylor.
The defensive front has been lights out for the Commanders all year. They are tops in the league in pressure rate and are solid against the run. Despite Indy instituting a quick passing game for Sam Ehlinger, Washington totaled a sack and 6 QB hits.
At linebacker, Jamin Davis had one of the biggest plays of his career today. With the Commanders up late 7-6 late in the third quarter, with the Colts in a goal-to-go situation at the 1, Davis stuffed Jonathan Taylor in the backfield for a loss forcing the Colts to kick the field goal.
That is on the heels of Davis slowly improving in year two, and utilizing his speed to his advantage. Against the run this year, he doesn’t look like a ghost in headlights anymore, and he has become serviceable in that regard. Filling in the place of Cole Holcomb, the combination of David Mayo and Jon Bostic filled in well.
Heading into today, the Commanders ranked 13th in EPA/play. They were top five in the league in defensive pass-rush success rate, and top ten in the league in success rate against the run. Today’s performance will certainly help that, as they kept the Commanders in the game while the offense was sputtering.
A stingy defense is what will be needed for the Commanders to snatch a playoff bid.