5 major disappointments from the Commanders' loss vs. Cowboys in Week 18

A disappointing end to a disappointing season.

Washington Commanders fan
Washington Commanders fan / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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Sam Howell - Commanders QB

There’s a lot to like about Sam Howell. On Sunday, he became the first Washington Commanders quarterback to start every game in a season since Kirk Cousins in 2017. He is tough. He can run. He has a good arm. Early in the season, he kept the team alive in games. We have all seen his regression over the last two months, and it is troubling.

The game against the Dallas Cowboys revealed a new cause for concern. One of Howell’s strengths has been his ability to throw deep. He has not been all that successful this season, but I pin a lot of that on an offensive line that could not hold up long enough to allow for deep shots and a little bit on wide receivers who had difficulty getting separation.

On Sunday, Howell simply missed his deep throws several times. The most obvious one came early, on the cleverly designed trick play that had Terry McLaurin several yards behind Stephon Gilmore.

Howell made a tentative underthrow that allowed Gilmore to recover and break up the play. Just before the end of the third quarter, he underthrew McLaurin again. This time the pass was picked off. He was getting pressured on the play and could not step into the throw as he may have wanted, but we have seen him make that throw before - even with pressure.

Between those two plays, Howell missed a wide-open John Bates running deep down the right side. That play came after the Commanders' defense had intercepted Dak Prescott and could have been a real momentum boost. As it was, Washington settled for a field goal after a short drive.

It was the last points they would score.