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Game Balls: 3 Standout Players In Washington's Loss To The Lions

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Running back Antonio Gibson celebrates after a score during the Washington Football Team's game against the Detroit Lions on Nov. 15, 2020. (Zack Silver/Washington Football Team)

Despite the gut-wrenching, 30-27 loss against the Detroit Lions, Alex Smith, Antonio Gibson and the receivers were all crucial for the Washington Football Team on Sunday. Here's how they performed:

Game Ball No. 1: Quarterback Alex Smith

There were several reasons why Smith's performance was historic for the 16th-year quarterback. It was Smith's first start since his brutal leg injury back in Nov. 18, 2018. Smith also had career-highs in attempts (55), completions (38) and yards (390). Smith completed the game with a passer rating of 89.2.

With Washington trailing, 24-17, with less than nine minutes in the fourth quarter, Smith led offense 66 yards down the field after the defense forced a three-and-out. After converting a 3rd-and-5, Smith found tight end Logan Thomas for a 27-yard gain that put the offense at the Lions' 11-yard line. Three plays later, Gibson rushed into the end zone on a five-yard score.

After the game, head coach Ron Rivera said he thought Smith played "a heck of a football game." Rivera also said he noticed an added level of confidence in all of the players because they believe in Smith to make plays.

Game Ball No. 2: Running Back Antonio Gibson

Rookie running back Gibson once again led the team in rushing yards after Washington's matchup against the Lions with 13 carries for 45 yards and two touchdowns. He also had four receptions for 20 yards.

With Washington trailing, 24-10, at the start of the fourth quarter, the offense moved down the field on an 11-play, 84-yard drive. With the ball set at the two-yard line, Smith handed the ball off to Gibson, who then found a crease in Detroit's defensive line and ran into the end zone.

Not only did Gibson's touchdown close the gap to 24-17, but he also put himself into Washington's record books; his seven rushing touchdowns in nine games are the second-most for a rookie in that span.

Game Ball No. 3: The Pass-Catchers

It was a productive day from Washington's pass-catchers; not only did nine players receive at least one target from Smith, but five of them had 50-yard performances.

Leading the pack was wide receiver Terry McLaurin with seven receptions for 95 yards. That was followed by Thomas, who had four receptions for 66 yards. Then, undrafted rookie Isaiah Wright accounted for six receptions and 59 yards. Cam Sims had another strong game with four catches for 54 yards, while Steven Sims Jr. had five catches for 46 yards in his second game since returning from Injured Reserve.

It's evident that Smith is beginning to establish more trust in his pass-catchers to make plays once they have the ball in their hands, and Rivera attested to that after the game by saying Smith has specifically been working with Sims and Wright to help develop the young wide receivers.

Check out photos of the Washington Football Team during its Week 10 matchup against the Detroit Lions. (Photos courtesy of Courtney Rivera/Washington Football Team, Zack Silver/NFL and Troy Anderson/NFL)

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