Game Ball No. 1: Defensive End Chase Young
Young was simply dominant against the 49ers. The rookie finished the night with six tackles, a sack, two passes defended, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries, one of which was returned for a touchdown. All of these combined makes Young the first rookie in NFL history and third overall to achieve this accomplishment since 1999.
Washington was trailing, 7-6, with a about a minute left to spare in the first half. As 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens took the snap, Daron Payne trailed the quarterback and helped bring him down, which forced the ball out of Mullens' hands. As the ball was rolling on the ground, Young scooped it up and ran it back 47 yards into the end zone, giving Washington a 13-7 halftime lead.
Young said he was at a loss for words after his performance, but his mom, Carla, was more vocal about how her son played.
"Oh my gosh, I'm just so worn out," she said. "It was just so outstanding, I couldn't even believe it. I was in shock. And I said, 'He knows how to pick that ball up and not fall on it.' And he got it and kept trucking."
While Young and his mom were pleased with his performance, the defensive end said he's not done yet as he's planning on keeping the mamba mentality instilled in his brain through out the remainder of the season.
"I like to think, 'What would Kobe [Bryant] do?' He wouldn't be smiling. He'd put his head down and keep working until he achieved what he wanted to achieve. ...That's the vibe of the team right now. We're not satisfied."
Game Ball No. 2: Safety Kamren Curl
Curl has firmly established himself as one of Washington's key defensive cogs since being named the starting strong safety. Not only did Curl finish the day with seven tackles, but the safety also became the eighth rookie in franchise history to register an interception returned for a touchdown and was the first to do so since 2013.
On the last play of the third quarter, Mullens threw a pass intended for fullback Kyle Juszyzck. At this point, Curl was able to read the play and anticipate the pass to make the interception The rookie then ran the interception back 76 yards to give Washington a 23-7 lead. To top off his first career interception and touchdown, he also topped off the play with a flip into the end zone.
At the end of the game, head coach Ron Rivera was pleased with this rookie's performance.
"You see the progress and the growth. I mean, the young man is a very physical player, he's a box safety, he shows some range. He's a guy that's learning and understanding and you see him putting himself in the right position. That's where you see young guys when they're where they need to be, when there's opportunities."
Game Ball No. 3: Defensive End Montez Sweat
Week after week, Sweat has repeatedly been a dominate presence on Washington's defensive line. On Sunday, the second-year defensive end finished the game with five tackles, two of which were for a loss, a sack and two quarterback hits. The dynamic duo of Sweat and Young have become a problem for opposing offenses, as they have combined for 12.5 sacks.
Sweat showed up for Washington's defense in the third quarter. After Hopkins nailed a a 21-yard field goal, Mullens handed the ball off to running back Raheem Mostert, but before he could move anywhere Sweat took him down for a two-yard loss. Two plays later, Sweat sacked Mullens for a five-yard loss, forcing San Francisco's punting unit to quickly return back to the field.
Check out photos of the Washington Football Team during its Week 14 matchup against the San Fransisco 49ers. (Photos courtesy of Courtney Rivera/Washington Football Team, Riley Trujillo/NFL, Dylan Burns/NFL and Hans Rodriguez/NFL)