The Washington Football Team has claimed back-to-back victories after a 27-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Here are three numbers to know from the win.
Washington's offense has gradually started to produce more consistently over the past two weeks, and there's a reason for that: it's figuring out how to stay on the field. The offense's third-down conversion rate (46%) is evidence of that.
After punting and fumbling on its first two drives, Washington scored touchdowns on three of its next four possessions. It faced six third down on those drives and converted all of them, but the way the offense converted them is almost as impressive. With Washington at its own 35-yard line and nine seconds left, Terry McLaurin caught a 39-yard bomb on a third-and-9. Four plays later, Washington tied the score with a six-yard touchdown.
Later in the third quarter, Washington was in a third-and-goal situation at the Panthers' 4-yard line. Taylor Heinicke delivered a four-yard score to give Washington a 21-14 lead.
While Washington was thriving, the Panthers were in a slump caused by a standout performance from the defense. Carolina was 2-of-9 on third downs, which resulted in three straight punts in the first half.
On the same note of Washington managing to stay on the field, Washington faced two fourth down situations with the game on the line. The team converted both of them.
The first came in the second quarter, when Washington was dealing with a 14-7 deficit in the waning minutes of the half. A fourth-and-inches turned into a fourth-and-5 after a false start, but that didn't scare Ron Rivera into sending out the punt team. Instead, Heinicke found DeAndre Carter for a 18-yard completion on the left side of the field, and that turned into a McLaurin touchdown that tied the score.
However, the most impressive conversion was saved for the fourth quarter, when Washington was attempting to put the game away. Heinicke drifted to the left, and right before he could be taken down for a sack, John Bates got open for a six-yard completion on a fourth-and-3. That allowed Washington to drive down to field goal position with Joey Slye giving it a lead that it would never relinquish.
Meanwhile, Carolina faced three fourth downs Sunday afternoon. It didn't go quite as well. The team's last two drives ended with a turnover on downs, the last of which was the result of a three-yard sack on Cam Newton that effectively ended the game.
Heinicke was effective once again Sunday afternoon.
After struggling against the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers, the quarterback seems to have rediscovered himself since the bye week. Against the Panthers' No.2-ranked defense, Heinicke completed 72% of his passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns. The best part about his performance: no interceptions.
Heinicke was crisp, efficient and made plays when Washington needed them the most. Plays like his completion to McLaurin showed he could air out the ball if necessary, but his touchdown tosses to Cam Sims and Carter showed he had the accuracy to make difficult throws with tight windows.
And there's something else to keep in mind about Heinicke's performance: all three of his touchdowns came in the red zone. It's a welcome sight after Washington's issues in scoring position prior to the bye week.