5 plays that defined where it all went wrong for the Commanders in 2023

Things could have been different...

Logan Thomas
Logan Thomas / Patrick Smith/GettyImages
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Commanders at Seahawks - Week 10

  • Fourth quarter - 0:24

The Washington Commanders had another valiant loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and an ugly win against the moribund New England Patriots before they traveled to the Seattle Seahawks. At the time, it was a game with major wildcard implications.

Washington could get back to .500 with a win. It seemed like a difficult task because Seattle has always played very well at home. As we documented before the game, the Commanders had traditionally done very well in the northwest.

It was tied at half-time. As he had done against the Eagles, Sam Howell brought the Commanders back two times in the fourth quarter for game-tying touchdowns.

The second of those came on a beautiful deep ball to Dyami Brown. Again, Ron Rivera played for the tie. There was just under a minute left. Joey Slye had already missed an extra point. But he made this one.

Washington’s defense would have to prevent Geno Smith from taking his team on a game-winning field goal drive in 52 seconds. Turns out, he only needed 28.

That final drive was emblematic of what has plagued the Commanders' defense all season. They’d play pretty well on first and second down, then collapse when it mattered most.

Smith converted one third-and-four with a short pass to D.K. Metcalf. The big receiver turned it into a 17-yard gain. After an incompletion, the pair connected again, this time setting up the game-winning field goal.

On the play, Washington rushed four. Though Montez Sweat got a little bit of pressure from the left, there was no push at all in the middle of the field. Smith had time and a clean pocket to step into. That was part one of the problem - the Commanders' vaunted defensive tackles being handled with relative ease by Seattle’s unheralded interior.

Part two of the complication was questionable design. Washington had seven men in coverage. Seattle sent out five receivers. The Commanders played Cover 2 and both safeties dropped very deep. That may have prevented a touchdown. But the Seahawks didn’t need a touchdown. With essentially five man-on-man matchups, Smith looked to his best receiver.

That was part three of the breakdown. Benjamin St-Juste simply could not stay with Metcalf without help. That help was playing too deep. The wideout picked up 27 yards before the Commanders got him to the ground.

Yep - no touchdown. But Jason Myers did kick his fifth field goal of the day to send the Commanders to 4-6.