A Carson Wentz interception late in the game sealed the Commanders’ fourth straight loss

LANDOVER, Md. — Just two yards stood between the Washington Commanders and their second win of the season.

Down by four points late in the fourth quarter, Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz orchestrated an impressive field goal that, after a pass interference call, set Washington up on first-and-goal from the Tennessee Titans’ two-yard line with just 18 seconds to play.

Washington, out of a timeout, elected to run three straight passes. The first pass was incomplete out of the back of the end zone, and Titans cornerback Christian Fulton nearly fumbled the ball. On second down, a Wentz fastball intended for running back JD McKissic between two Tennessee defenders fell incomplete.

Then on third down with seconds left, Wentz elected to look McKissic’s way again. The initial opening closed in an instant — Titans linebacker David Long read the design perfectly and jumped in front of Wentz’s floor for the game-sealing interception. Titans 21, Commanders 17.

“The man made a great play,” Wentz said after the game. “At least from my perspective, it looked like he was covering for Terry [McLaurin] a little along the crossing route. I just tried to get it in there in JD … I thought we had six points when it came out of my hand. The result was unfortunate.”

Commanders head coach Ron Rivera agreed with Wentz that the interception was due more to a great play by Long than an errant throw by his quarterback.

“I think [Wentz] was looking at a wide open JD while the linebacker — who set him up perfectly and made a hell of a play — made a play,” Rivera said.

From Long’s perspective, his interception had to be because Tennessee specifically emphasized red-zone defense during practice this week. When the opportunity arose to make a play, he did just that.

“I was prepared for the play,” Long said. “The thing is, we never panic. They made some games. We never panic… This is what you dream of. Don’t panic. Someone made a play and we left the field. , but it’s a team effort.”

Wentz’s interception was crushing, of course, for the simple fact that it sealed Washington’s fourth straight loss. But the game was also so demoralizing for the home side because Scott Turner’s attack had mustered such an impressive final push before that final delivery.

The Commanders took over the football with just over four minutes remaining at their own 13-yard line. On the opening drive, Washington converted a fourth-and-1 from its own 20-yard line. After effectively moving the ball down the field, Washington faced another difficult sequence: third-and-5 from the Titans’ 24. In that game, Wentz found Curtis Samuel to keep Washington’s comeback drive and hopes alive.

Washington’s final drive had all the makings of a storybook ending. Tennessee’s defense had a different final chapter in mind.

“We’ve got to find a way to get that into the end zone,” McLaurin said. “It was a great job to execute the two-minute drive to get into scoring position. But if you don’t score it, it’s really for [nothing]. That sums it up as a crime; we have to find a way to get the ball into the end zone to win the game. That’s all you can ask for in this situation and we fell short. We definitely have to do a better job of finishing that drive.”

Wentz offered a similar prospect as his star receiver.

“Obviously it’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster,” he said. “You feel very confident in your ability to drop and move the ball, convert, stay on the court. You get a first-and-goal from both of them and you’re thinking “we got this, we” got a few chances here. Hats off to them, they made some good plays. It’s definitely disappointing and it stings a little bit more just because I thought we had it.”

Wentz’s most recent pass hampered the quarterback’s much better overall performance. Washington entered Sunday with three offensive starters. The fast attack of the commanders was practically non-existent. Still, Wentz managed to throw for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Even before the interception, Wentz had yet to turn the football over.

Yet none of this really matters to the big picture. The Commanders are now 1-4 and firmly in the basement of the NFC East — at least three games out of first place pending Philadelphia’s result at Arizona. With a short week coming up and the Chicago Bears next, Week 6 is almost certainly a must-win game.

“Win. Win,” McLaurin said when asked what the change was. “Easier said than done. But we just have to find a way to finish plays, finish shots, play more complementary football and not shoot ourselves in the foot with negative plays and penalties and things like that. It’s not going to help you win games.”

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