The Washington Commanders did what the Washington Commanders often do on Sunday. With a chance to make the playoffs against a team already eliminated from playoff contention, the Commanders put forth their most embarrassing performance of the season in a 24-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Now, thanks to wins by the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, Washington is eliminated from postseason contention. The Packers and Lions will play for the NFC’s final playoff spot next week in Green Bay.
Meanwhile, the Commanders will play in another meaningless season finale against the Dallas Cowboys, who will be playing for a chance at the NFC’s No. 1 overall seed and the NFC East title.
There is lots of blame to go around for the Commanders in their loss to the Browns. Here’s everything we know after another demoralizing performance in front of the home crowd.
Final score: Browns 24, Commanders 10
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (2) runs with the ball en route to a touchdown against the Washington Commanders. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Why the Commanders lost
Head coach Ron Rivera of the Washington Commanders looks on against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of the game at FedExField on January 01, 2023 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)
It begins and ends with head coach Ron Rivera. Was quarterback Carson Wentz the sole reason Washington lost? No. However, Taylor Heinicke helped put the Commanders in this position with his play over the last two-plus months. But Rivera decided Washington hadn’t done enough on offense recently, and perhaps Wentz could give the Commanders a spark for the final two games.
Three turnovers later, we’re still waiting on that spark from Wentz, who often looked like a deer in headlights when multiple teammates rallied around him and encouraged him throughout the game.
After seven starts, it’s not too early to declare the Carson Wentz era in Washington over.
Washington’s defense also struggled in this game, especially when Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jonathan Allen went down with an injury. The Commanders were without their top cornerback in Benjamin St-Juste and the secondary’s leader, safety Kam Curl, and it showed.
This one was a team loss.
It was over when....
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (2) runs with the ball past Washington Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller (29). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper caught one against Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller near the sideline. It initially looked like a routine catch, but Fuller made what looked like a halfhearted attempt to bring down Cooper, who was off to the races for a 46-yard touchdown. The score gave the Browns a 10-7 lead, and they never looked back.
Judge for yourself.
Commanders' top performers
RB Brian Robinson Jr: 24 carries, 87 yards
DT Daron Payne: 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, 1 QB hit
Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce (31) is tackled for a loss by Washington Commanders defensive tackle Jonathan Allen (93). Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Allen departed the game in the second quarter with a leg injury. The Commanders ruled him out at halftime. Afterward, head coach Ron Rivera said Allen “hyperextended” his knee, and they would examine further on Monday. The competitive portion of the season is over, so no one cares about next week. Here’s hoping Allen didn’t suffer a long-term injury.
News and notes
Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) wipes his face on the sidelines against the Cleveland Browns. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
That should be the end of the Carson Wentz experiment in Washington. The Commanders are eliminated from the playoffs, and there’s no need to trot Wentz back out there. Wentz started seven games, and that’s enough to determine the Commanders need to move on from him in the offseason.
The Browns entered the game No. 25 against the run. Yet, somehow, the Commanders could only manage 3.7 yards per attempt against Cleveland.
Washington’s star receivers [Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson & Curtis Samuel] combined for six receptions and 68 yards.
The Commanders defense allowed only 81 total yards in the first half. However, in the second half, Deshaun Watson, who completed only nine passes, threw three touchdown passes. Watson didn’t look great, but he had wide-open receivers all game long as Washington’s secondary looked lost and helpless without Benjamin St-Juste and Kam Curl.
Amari Cooper continues to victimize Washington, as he finished with 101 yards receiving and two touchdowns on just three receptions.
Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (90) and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (55) tackle Washington Commanders running back Antonio Gibson (24). Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Cowboys [12-4] enter Sunday with everything to play for, needing a win and an Eagles’ loss to win the NFC East and potentially end the season as the NFC’s No. 1 seed. Washington, meanwhile, has nothing to play for.