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Week 13 Game Recap: Washington Redskins 29, Carolina Panthers 21


What you need to know

Washington Redskins

Dwayne Haskins took a positive step forward in his development, not putting his team in bad situations with his decisions. At times he took coverage sacks rather than throw the football in harm’s way, but this reticence was as much due to his inability to quickly process things in the red zone, where he left some plays on the field. Haskins’ job was made easier by the Washington rushing attack, which pulverised Carolina’s defense from start to finish. Derrius Guice was the standout player among the three backs the team rotated in, with Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson making key contributions. It was Guice, however, who set the tone with his downhill, physical style, consistently breaking tackles and showing a second gear that led to a couple of long runs. The receiving corps was largely a non-factor – and truthfully, they didn’t have to be involved, such was the dominance of the ground game. Haskins linked up well with Jeremy Sprinkle, who presented a big target – especially in key third down situations.

Carolina Panthers

The Carolina offense has been a Jekyll and Hyde operation in recent weeks; laying an egg against the Falcons before going toe to toe with New Orleans in the Superdome, only to perform dismally against the Redskins at home. The offensive line did not afford Kyle Allen enough protection in this game, but much of the blame for the offense’s ineptitude rests on the quarterback’s shoulders. Bad habits creep into Allen’s game when his first read isn’t there; he has a tendency to retreat from pressure rather than step up into the pocket to help out his offensive line; he often puts too much air on easy passes, such as the deep ball to Curtis Samuel that should have been a touchdown. He had only one pick in this game, but it could easily have been two or three, such was the carelessness he played with. Christian McCaffrey suffered along with the rest of the offense, with the uber-talented back forced to feed on scraps as the team consistently ended up in third-and-long situations. McCaffrey got a handful of goal line carries but was repelled each time. Instead, it was the receiving duo of Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore who got into the end zone, nabbing one touchdown a piece. It could have been so much more, however. Allen’s missed pass to Samuel on a deep ball could have resulted in a 60-yard touchdown, while Moore was tackled just shy of the goal line at the end of the game. Greg Olsen was a non-factor in a putrid passing attack and had to leave the game due to a head injury. The defense’s inability to stop the run will continue to set the Panthers up in comeback situations, a spot that Allen hasn’t been able to excel in.

Washington Redskins

QB Dwayne Haskins, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 25 - 147 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 6 - 0
After being sacked on his first dropback of the game, things appeared to be heading in a familiar direction for Dwayne Haskins. However, to the rookie’s credit, he responded magnificently. Washington’s offensive line did an excellent job to nullify the Carolina pass rush for long stretches, allowing the big-armed Haskins to step up and fire bullet passes to his receivers. At times Haskins took a beat too long to decide and left some plays out on the field, leading to some coverage sacks, but he rarely put the offense in a bind with bad decisions or ill-advised throws. Haskins came to life in the two-minute drill at the end of the first half, gunning a pass to Kelvin Harmon on a deep dig to convert a third-and-long before firing a pinpoint pass to Chris Thompson on a deep out. The running game began to assert itself in the second half, allowing Haskins better protection and taking the load off his shoulders. He did well to keep plays and drives alive, however, often moving around the pocket to buy time before lofting passes up to wide-open targets. Haskins was unable to process things quickly enough in the red zone, missing opportunities to add more points, but overall, he produced a mature display.

RB Adrian Peterson, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 99 - 1 (1 targets)
Adrian Peterson combined well with Derrius Guice for a one-two punch that Carolina’s defense simply couldn’t handle. Peterson looked spry and powerful on his touches, bouncing off contact and showing off his terrific footwork and balance in space. As the offensive line continued to blow open holes, Peterson seemed to get stronger. With the offense backed up at the 1-yard line, Peterson scooted through a gap and bounced off contact for a huge gain. On the next play he fumbled at the exchange point but managed to recover. Late in the game Peterson put the icing on the cake for the Washington offense, breaking a run inside the red zone – right into the teeth of the Carolina defense – for a touchdown.

RB Derrius Guice, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 129 - 2, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (3 targets)
The Redskins’ workhorse back on this day, Derrius Guice looked every bit the superstar player the team drafted. His power, footwork and no-nonsense style were on full display throughout as he bullied Carolina defenders at and beyond the line of scrimmage. The offensive line provided an excellent platform, often absorbing all resistance up front and creating a crease for Guice to glide through. Guice had a huge run early on a simple inside handoff, bouncing it outside to the right and scooting up the field before being pushed out of bounds inside the Carolina 10-yard line. Guice rotated at times with Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson, allowing him to stay fresh. He cashed in for two touchdowns – both from the 1-yard line – lowering his pads to finish the runs strongly. With the game nearly out of reach for Carolina, Guice delivered a gut punch of a carry, breaking off the left side, flooring a Panthers defender with a stiff arm before being ruled down at the 1-yard line. Guice was involved sparingly in the passing game as a check down option but looked comfortable in that role.

RB Chris Thompson, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 14 - 0, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (2 targets)
Chris Thompson played a rotational role against Carolina, sharing time with Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice. His best play of the game came on a deep out in the two-minute drill at the end of the first half. Set up alongside Dwayne Haskins in the backfield, Thompson ghosted past the coverage and made a tremendous catch. As a runner he was rarely involved and couldn’t break the line like his backfield teammates.

WR Steven Sims, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (4 targets)
Sims made some nice grabs when called upon, with his best play coming on a sideline reception in the two-minute drill at the end of the first half, tapping his toes in bounds beautifully.

WR Kelvin Harmon, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 51 - 0 (5 targets)
Like the other Washington pass catchers, Kelvin Harmon had a quiet day – mostly due to how effective the team ran the football. Harmon connected well with Dwayne Haskins on intermediate patterns, including a well-timed deep dig route on third-and-long. Haskins tried to connect with Harmon on an end zone target but the underneath coverage was excellent and he tried to secure it with one hand rather than catching it away from his frame.

WR Terry McLaurin, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (4 targets)
Terry McLaurin was largely kept quiet in this game, but the opportunities were there for a bigger game in the box score. An end zone target was thrown too late by Dwayne Haskins for McLaurin to haul in; he was already over the back line of the end zone by the time he hauled it in. The two failed to link up later in the game on a deep pass down the left sideline, the ball slipping through the receiver’s hands. His best catch came on a short reception between a closing cornerback and safety, going high to snag it.

TE Jeremy Sprinkle, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 36 - 0 (4 targets)
Jeremy Sprinkle linked up well with his quarterback throughout this game, staying alive in important third down situations to present a big outlet target. The first such play came on a third down conversion with Sprinkle running a deep dig, absorbing a hit as he caught Dwayne Haskins’ bullet pass. Sprinkle was almost able to haul in Haskins’ pass on a two-point conversion, but his sprawling, diving catch led to the ball hitting the ground.


Carolina Panthers

QB Kyle Allen, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 46 - 278 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 22 - 1
After righting the ship last week with a turnover-free performance in New Orleans, Kyle Allen took a major step back against the Redskins. The offense hummed in the early stages, with Allen looking sharp with his reads and throws behind an offensive line that afforded him time. His first touchdown pass followed, a lofted pass to the back-left corner of the end zone to Curtis Samuel, who would have made his quarterback proud with his leaping effort to grab the football. Allen’s momentum continued the next drive, culminating in his second touchdown pass on a wide-open toss to D.J. Moore. The Redskins defensive backs were confused on the play, allowing Moore, who was lined up in the tight slot left, to break free. Things went downhill from that point for the offense, however, as a barrage of pressure rained down on Allen, leading to poor decisions, coverage sacks and general ineptitude. Allen missed a wide-open Samuel on a deep pass in the second quarter, a play that would certainly have been a touchdown, the pass just a little too far in front. On the next possession Allen threw an interception with the offense backed up inside their own 10-yard line, attempting to fit in the ball to Moore with defenders all around the receiver. The interception was returned to the 1-yard line and set the skid in motion. The Redskins ratcheted up their blitz packages as the game wore on, sensing that Allen was struggling to handle the pressure. Indeed, he failed to diagnose things and often held the ball too long, taking blind side hits and sacks. The offensive line did not give him much of a platform to operate. Allen nearly tossed another interception on a corner route pass to Moore, with the throw lacking the necessary touch to get it over the underneath coverage defender, who batted it away. With the team in desperation mode late in the game, Allen broke the pocket and scrambled for a touchdown, reaching the ball out over the pylon. After an onside kick recovery, Allen strung together a few completions to get the offense in range of a potential game-tying score. However, on fourth-and-goal he made the cardinal error of retreating from the pocket – a fatal flaw in his game – rather than stepping up, inviting the pass rush. He took a game-ending sack on the play when it appeared as though he had a couple of viable options in the progression.

RB Christian McCaffrey, 74 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 44 - 0, Rec: 7 - 58 - 0 (13 targets)
Christian McCaffrey was a non-factor in this game, a trend the Panthers will not be keen to nip in the bud. The early stages saw McCaffrey bounce off tacklers, running through contact and, as a receiver, making men miss in space and creating yards after the catch. He got the nod in the red zone, but the Redskins were able to win the battle up front and stopped him shy. As the game wore on, McCaffrey’s role diminished, with the offensive centrepiece having to feed off scraps such as check-down passes in third-and-long situations. The Panthers all but abandoned the ground game in the second half, allowing the Redskins pass rush to tee off on Kyle Allen and saddling McCaffrey with more pass-blocking responsibilities. McCaffrey got the call at the goal line at the end of the game with an opportunity to set up a game-tying score, but once again he was stuffed at the line as the Carolina offensive line failed to blow open holes.

WR D.J. Moore, 71 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -3 - 0, Rec: 6 - 75 - 1 (12 targets)
The offense was humming early in this game for Carolina, with D.J. Moore one of the main beneficiaries. Moore connected well with Kyle Allen off play action, running quick slants for easy pitch-and-catch hook-ups. In the red zone, Moore got the handoff on a trick play that tried to sneak him behind the line of scrimmage on a jet sweep, but the Redskins snuffed it out. Not long after Moore reached pay dirt, with no Redskins defender close to him as the route combination – a scissors concept with Moore running a corner route and Samuel running a post – bamboozled the defense and gave him a simple catch for a touchdown. The offense stagnated after that point, with targets in Moore’s direction too high – when they came his way at all. Moore came to life in the two-minute drill at the end of the game, connecting with Allen on timing routes and almost scoring a second touchdown, only to be tackled at the 1-yard line. A target fired his way in the end zone was broken up a couple of plays later.

WR Curtis Samuel, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 65 - 1 (7 targets)
Things started off swimmingly for Curtis Samuel, who made a beautiful leaping touchdown catch on a corner route in the end zone for a touchdown. Kyle Allen threw the ball intentionally high and ‘above the rim’, with Samuel bouncing up above the defensive back to secure it before tapping both feet in bounds. Allen and Samuel hooked up soon after on a deep crossing route, with the receiver turning on the speed and leaving the coverage in the dust. However, the next target sent Samuel’s way was left a yard too far in front on what should have been a touchdown; the Washington defender had fallen over on the play and Samuel had nothing but green grass in front of him. Samuel dropped a well-thrown pass on a deep out in the second half, a symptom of the team’s offensive woes. With the offense struggling, Samuel was not much of a factor in the closing stages, though he made a nice reception as he absorbed a hit in the two-minute drill at the end of the game.

WR Jarius Wright, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 34 - 0 (5 targets)
Jarius Wright played his traditional role of being the safe pair of hands for Kyle Allen to throw to in times of need. Indeed, on the first pass of the game Wright made himself available on a crossing pattern, hauling in the football with a diving reception. His best reception came on a sideline pass in the second half, with the veteran doing a tremendous job to keep both feet in bounds.

TE Ian Thomas, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 24 - 0 (4 targets)
Ian Thomas took over after Greg Olsen had to leave the game and did a reasonable job, making the plays he was called upon to make. With the offense struggling to maintain possession and sustain drives, however, most of those plays came on short check-down throws.

TE Greg Olsen, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (3 targets)
Greg Olsen caught a couple of short passes to bail out his quarterback in the early stages but had to leave the game after taking a hit to his head courtesy of a Washington player’s helmet. Olsen appeared to be temporarily unconscious after the hit, for which the Washington player was ejected. Olsen did not return to the game.