By Mark F. Gray
Special to the AFRO
All hopes for a postseason berth may have ended on a horrific night in Dallas. Not only did the Washington Football Team succumb to the injuries and the ravages of COVID-19, the frustration of the disappointing nationally televised game bubbled to the surface.
After four straight victories and a legitimate shot at the playoffs, Washington melted down under the pressure of a must-win road game and were exposed for what they are. The Football Team’s 56-14 loss to the Cowboys solidified their place as the third best team in a four team division and just how far they must grow to become a legitimate contender.
Washington’s defense, which is supposed to be the foundation of their resurgence, took a setback for all the world to see. The 56 points yielded were the most Dallas scored in a game since 1980. It also led to punches being thrown by Deron Payne and Jonathan Allen as they were trying to make in-game adjustments.
“Do you have a brother? It was just a little brotherly disagreement,” said Payne, who refused to provide any specifics on what caused the disagreement that led to the physical altercation on the WFT sidelines. “Maybe the wrong place at the wrong time, but it happened. It is what it is.”
Injuries and protocols aside, Washington didn’t arrive with a game plan that was ready to keep the Cowboys offense on the sidelines. After forcing a Dallas punt opening drive, the Football Team immediately unwrapped the Christmas bag and proceeded to keep on giving.
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke was Santa Claus for the Cowboys, while returning to the lineup after missing their loss at Philadelphia last Tuesday. Heinicke was hoping for what would’ve been a triumphant comeback from his bout on the injured list due to his positive COVID test. Instead he was the biggest culprit in an embarrassing display of offensive inefficiency that was the catalyst to a loss that all but mathematically ended their playoff hope.
Heineke chose to target Terry McLaurin, who was covered by the NFL’s leader in interceptions, Treyvon Diggs, who had him blanketed on Washington’s first offensive play. The Dallas cornerback, who is a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, intercepted the pass for his 11th time and the rout was on from there. The Cowboys took control with a 16-play onslaught over their first two drives that opened an early lead and destroyed whatever hopes Washington had for making the playoffs or winning the NFC east division.
“It definitely affects us, but as professionals it’s our job to go out there and play good football,” Allen said. “But the last few weeks, it’s been probably some of the worst football that we’ve been a part of.”
The Football Team has the fewest wins among the six teams still mathematically alive for the NFC’s final two playoff spots. They have secured a fifth consecutive losing season with two games left to play.
Washington plays its home finale against the resurgent Philadelphia Eagles next week before finishing the season at the New York Giants.
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