Browns’ Deshaun Watson throws 3 touchdowns to annihilate road commanders
Fans booed Carson Wentz and sang for Taylor Heinicke to no avail as it became abundantly clear Ron Rivera’s quarterback switch backfired on Washington’s commanders.
It snowballed so much that it turned into another loss for a team that once controlled its playoff chances.
Wentz threw three interceptions after reclaiming his starting spot, defensive errors piled up and Commanders playoff odds took a major hit with an embarrassing 24-10 loss on Sunday to the Cleveland Browns, who had no nothing to play.
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Washington (7-8-1) is winless in five games and would be eliminated if Green Bay beat Minnesota.
“I have high expectations for myself and this team, and we underperformed — so did I,” said Wentz, who was 16 of 28 for 143 yards. “It’s not what I had in mind and what we had in mind as a team. Not the performance I was envisioning. I want to salvage a lot of stuff. Yeah, it was tough.”
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The offense gained just 261 yards — 96 on Washington’s lone touchdown — not exactly the spark Rivera was hoping for when he returned to Wentz. Fans who made up the sparse crowd booed and chanted early for Heinicke several times after Wentz missed open receivers or threw the ball into the hands of a Cleveland defender.
“I tried to be aggressive, tried to force a few pitches early, obviously, and put us in a hole,” said Wentz, who also faded with Indianapolis at this point last season when the Colts needed to win to get into the playoffs. “Then the rest of the way just didn’t make enough plays personally, as a team – the nine yards. I definitely blame myself for some.”
Fans chanting “Heinicke! Heinicke!” didn’t get his wish: Wentz stayed in the game and struggled to move the ball beyond handing it to rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr., who rushed for 87 yards on 24 carries . Rivera said he considered going to Heinicke but decided against it once his team fell behind by 14 and he knew down shots would be needed.
“Yeah, I thought we could (see Heinicke) just because he was available and the other quarterback was having a little trouble, but they stuck with him,” Browns safety Grant Delpit said, who had two of the interceptions. “We had a good game plan for him, and it worked.”
The fourth-ranked Commanders defense allowed a handful of big plays, including a 46-yard pass from Deshaun Watson to Amari Cooper that became a touchdown when top cornerback Kendall Fuller missed an open-field tackle.
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“We missed a few tackles,” Rivera said. “We completely missed a few of them. You can’t miss tackles from good players.”
Watson also connected with Cooper on a 33-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter that sent the fans to the exits.
The Browns (7-9) were already out of contention in the AFC but heeded tight end David Njoku’s hope that they would “give commanders hell”. Cooper had three catches for 105 yards, Nick Chubb rushed 14 for 104 yards and Watson was 9 of 18 for 169 yards and the TD passed to Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
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“It was definitely the potential for what the future may hold for us,” Watson said.