The Washington Football Team trails the Detroit Lions, 17-3, at the break. Here are three takeaways from the first two quarters:
1. Big Plays Continue To Be A Problem For The Defense
Washington entered Sunday with the NFL's best passing defense (185.6 yards per game allowed), but the unit has been one of the worst in the league when it comes to giving up big plays.
The Lions took advantage of that weakness on its first drive. On 1st-and-10 from their own 45-yard line, wide receiver Marvin Hall burst down the left sideline. Kendall Fuller was in coverage, but he bumped into Hall and then fell, leaving Hall wide open for a 55-yard catch and run touchdown. Washington has now allowed six plays of 50 yards or more, which is tied with Dallas for the most in the NFL.
Matthew Stafford's second touchdown came early in the second quarter. On 3rd-and-10, Stafford fit his pass right in between Jimmy Moreland and Fuller for a 27-yard score to Marvin Jones. Despite completing just 10 of his 16 passes, he has 139 yards through the air with two touchdowns.
2. The Defense Has Struggled Against Detroit On The Ground
Last week, Washington allowed a struggling New York Giants rushing offense to amass 166 yards, including 109 in the first half. Things haven't improved much against the Lions, as they have rushed for 61 yards on 10 carries.
Detroit set the tone early on its opening drive with D'Andre Swift rushing for 32 yards on three carries, including a 16-yard run with less fewer eight minutes left in the first quarter. Then, in the second quarter, Adrian Peterson carried the ball two times for 17 yards that helped set up a 27-yard touchdown to Jones that put the Lions up 14-3.
Washington's defense played better against the Giants' rushing attack in the second half. It will need to do the same against the Lions if it wants to pull out a win.
3. Washington Needs To Execute In The Red Zone
Alex Smith and Washington's offense has gotten movement against the Lions multiple times. It got all the way down to Detroit's 14-yard line on its opening drive and then the 20-yard line on the following drive.
But both of those drives ended in disappointment. Washington took a 10-yard loss followed by a 14-yard sack on its first drive, which forced the team to punt from the 38-yard line. Then, after Smith missed on a pass to J.D. McKissic, Washington was forced to kick a 38-yard field goal.
Washington then got down to the Lions' 25-yard line, but Hopkins' 43-yard attempt was wide right. Washington is still in position to make a comeback, but it will need to execute on its opportunities.