There are natural disasters, there is the Titanic sinking and then there’s what happened with the Washington Commanders on Thursday night.
The first half was all Bears, and it began from the opening kickoff. It only took Chicago six plays to go 75 yards and score its first touchdown. The Bears would score another 10 straight points to take a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter before Washington responded with a field goal.
At halftime, Chicago’s lead stretched to 27-3. Read that again.
In the second half, Washington got some offense going and got a few stops, but it was the definition of too little, too late. Quarterback Sam Howell looked good, but overall, there’s not much else to like from this game.
There are real questions to be asked about Washington’s readiness for this game, particularly on defense. Chicago is now the fourth straight Commanders opponent to score at least 30 points.
‘No intensity or fire’
For at least one member of the Commanders’ new ownership group, the conversation has already begun. Magic Johnson took to X in the minutes after Washington’s ugly loss.
“Tonight the Commanders played with no intensity or fire,” Johnson wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We didn’t compete in the first half and got down 27-3 heading into halftime. It was too big of a hole to climb out of and that is why we ended up losing 40-20.”
Ron Rivera made a series of questionable calls on fourth downs. In the second quarter facing 4th and 4 from the Chicago 33-yard-line and down 17-0, Rivera elected to kick a field goal. Faced with a similar situation in the third quarter (4th and 2 from the Chicago 13 and Washington trailing 27-11), Rivera kicked another field goal.
Analytic models did not like either call, but particularly the third quarter decision.
Eventually, in the fourth quarter, when Washington had a chance to cut the Bears lead to a touchdown, Commanders kicker Joey Slye missed the field goal. On the subsequent Bears possession, Justin Fields hit D.J. Moore for a 56-yard touchdown pass to make the score 37-20.
Moore absolutely destroyed the Commanders, scoring three times and going for 230 receiving yards on eight catches. Washington’s secondary looked awful throughout the contest, struggling in coverage and tackling, and it sure looked like rookie first-rounder Emmanuel Forbes got benched in the second half of the loss.
Since July, when Josh Harris took over as the new Washington managing partner, his ownership group has largely enjoyed good news and fun results. That’s over now.
Losing to the previously winless Bears creates a new conversation about this season and beyond. Losing by multiple touchdowns puts those conversations in overdrive.
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