Everything was on the line for the Washington Commanders in the Week 17 home matchup against the Cleveland Browns. If Washington won its final two games, a playoff berth was guaranteed, and it started with a win over the 6-9 Browns.
Head coach Ron Rivera decided to make a change at quarterback ahead of the big game, replacing Taylor Heinicke with Carson Wentz.
The Commanders were embarrassed in the second half, falling to the Browns 24-10, and if Green Bay and Seattle win Sunday, they are eliminated from postseason contention. Heading into Week 17, Washington held a half-game lead over the Lions, Seahawks and Packers.
Washington held a 7-3 lead at halftime after Wentz led a 21-play, 96-yard drive that ended with a Wentz quarterback sneak into the end zone on fourth-and-goal. The Commanders then received some bad injury news at halftime when it was revealed Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jonathan Allen would miss the second half with a knee injury.
Allen’s absence, combined with the absences of safety Kam Curl and cornerback Benjamin St-Juste proved too much for the Commanders to overcome in the second half as Cleveland outscored them 21-3 over the final 30 minutes.
Wentz was bad, completing 16 of 28 passes for 143 yards with three interceptions. All of his interceptions were terrible decisions. Wentz often looked lifeless throughout the game, with several of his teammates offering encouragement, including Heinicke.
Rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr. rushed for 87 yards on the day, proving to be Washington’s most valuable offensive performer in the game. Yet, despite going against the NFL’s No. 25 run defense, the Commanders only averaged 3.7 yards per rushing attempt.
The Commanders fall to 7-8-1 and haven’t won a game since Nov. 27. The biggest question for Rivera now is who starts at quarterback in Week 18?