The Washington Commanders made a game of it in the fourth quarter, even taking a 21-20 lead late. Still, the Carolina Panthers connected on a 45-yard field goal with 24 seconds remaining to win the preseason opener.
Washington quarterback Carson Wentz played into the second quarter in his first game for the Commanders. Wentz completed 10 of 13 passes for 74 yards. Wentz mainly targeted undrafted rookie tight end Armani Rogers but did have one excellent completion to wide receiver Terry McLaurin.
Taylor Heinicke played the remainder of the second quarter before giving way to rookie Sam Howell in the second half. Howell gave the Commanders a spark, but it wasn’t enough in the end.
Now, here’s everything we know from Washington’s preseason loss to the Panthers.
Final score: Panthers 23, Commanders 21
Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin (17) runs a route covered by Carolina Panthers cornerback Stanley Thomas-Oliver III (23). (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The Commanders who did not play
Eleven Commanders did not play in the preseason opener. Chase Young, Logan Thomas and Tyler Larsen are on the PUP list. Cornelius Lucas has yet to practice but, according to head coach Ron Rivera, is close to a return.
Here is the full list, courtesy of Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post.
Not playing for the Commanders:
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) August 13, 2022
No new injuries were reported, but we will keep an eye out.
Washington Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr. (8) celebrates his touchdown in front of offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. (72). (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
QB Carson Wentz: 10/13, 74 yards
QB Sam Howell: 9/16, 143 yards, 3 rushes, 19 yards and 2 touchdowns
RB Brian Robinson Jr: 6 rushes, 26 yards, one touchdown, two receptions for 15 yards
WR Alex Erickson: 2 catches, 54 yards, caught 2-point conversion
LB David Mayo: 5 tackles
Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11). (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Carson Wentz: Wentz never appeared too uncomfortable and received good protection from his offensive line. He attempted one big play down the field to Jahan Dotson, but it fell just short. Wentz held on to the ball a bit too long on a couple of his attempts. Overall, it was an encouraging debut effort for Wentz and one to build off next week.
Taylor Heinicke: Heinicke had one sidearm pass that made the highlights. He also showed off his legs with a nice run and remains unafraid to push the ball down the field. That mentality led to an interception in the second quarter, ending a promising drive.
Sam Howell: Howell was phenomenal in his debut. His touchdown run was a thing of beauty, but the following was my favorite of the day from the rookie QB.
Howell displayed many terrific traits on this play. For Washington, it’s about his continued development. It wasn’t a surprise Howell played well. He has a way to go, but the talent is obvious.
Aug 13, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rashard Higgins (17) celebrates after scoring a touchdown with Panthers offensive tackle Brady Christensen (70) against the Washington Commanders. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
If you watched Carolina quarterback Baker Mayfield move the ball down the field against Washington’s first-team defense early in the game, you likely felt a sense of Deja Vu. Mayfield connected on three consecutive third downs to push the Panthers into the red zone. Washington’s defense held the Panthers to a field goal.
We will only judge Washington’s defense on this one drive since the second possession began deep in Commanders’ territory thanks to an Antonio Gibson fumble.
It is the preseason, so let’s watch how things play out over the next two weeks. However, fans wanted to see an aggressive defense, flying to the ball. They saw that from the second unit and even the third unit. Washington’s first-team defense was not impressive in its limited opportunities.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) passes the ball under pressure form Washington Football Team defensive tackle Daron Payne (94) and Washington Football Team linebacker Jamin Davis (52). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Next week, the Commanders face the Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes at Arrowhead Stadium. If this were the regular season, you may be worried after seeing the first-team defense. However, this presents a good test for Washington’s defense. That is what the preseason is all about.