The Washington Commanders (7-8-1) entered the Week 17 home tilt against the Cleveland Browns (7-9) Sunday with lots on the line.
Washington came into the game the No. 7 seed in the NFC. A loss, however, would have created a scenario where they could be eliminated from playoff contention after the 4:00 games came to a close. Sure enough, the Browns defeated the Commanders, 24-10. A Green Bay Packers (7-8) victory over the Minnesota Vikings (12-3) and the Commanders will be hitting the links a little earlier this season.
Apparently, that was news to head coach Ron Rivera. In the press conference following the defeat, Rivera was asked if he would possibly turn to 2022 fifth-round selection Sam Howell at quarterback in Week 18 if the Commanders were eliminated from the playoffs.
“We can be eliminated?” a confused Rivera asked.
Ahead of the game, Rivera made the decision to bench quarterback Taylor Heinicke for Carson Wentz. Though Heinicke led Washington to a 5-3-1 record in nine games as starter this season, Rivera opted to go back to his Week 1 starter in Wentz as Washington sat winless in their last three games.
It didn’t take long for the Commanders faithful at FedEx Field to begin chanting Heinicke’s name. Wentz has his own self to blame for that, as the 30-year-old led the offense to just 261 total yards. Wentz himself completed 16-of-28 passes for 143 yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions.
Carson Wentz Struggles in First Start Back With Commanders
“I have high expectations for myself and this team,” Wentz said after the game, via ESPN. “And we underperformed — I did, myself, as well. That’s not what I had in mind and what we had in mind as a team. Not the performance I envisioned. A lot of stuff I want back. Yeah, that was a tough one.”
Wentz is up to nine interceptions in eight games played this season. That surpasses the seven he threw last season with the Indianapolis Colts over a full 17-game season.
“I tried to be aggressive, tried to force a couple throws early, obviously, and kind of put us in a hole,” Wentz said. “Then the rest of the way just didn’t make enough plays personally, as a team — the whole nine yards. I’m definitely kicking myself over some.”