The Washington Football Team has claimed its third straight win with a 17-15 win over the Seattle Seahawks and put itself in the playoff conversation with six games left. Here are five takeaways from the win.
1. Another big day for the running backs.
Washington is starting to find its rhythm on the ground.
Washington's rushing attack has gradually improved over the team's three-game win streak. It scrounged for 94 yard against the stingy Tampa Bay Buccaneers and pummeled the Carolina Panthers to the tune of 190 yards.
Washington didn't get quite as many against the Seahawks, but 152 and two scores will do just fine.
Between the 20-yard lines, second-year pro Antonio Gibson was the star. He plodded through piles and attacked running lanes as he romped his way to 111 yards on 29 carries. It's the first time since Washington's 41-16 Thanksgiving win over the Dallas Cowboys that he surpassed the 100-yard mark.
But near the goal line, J.D. McKissic got the job done. He scored two of the team's three touchdowns, the second of which -- a 10-yard run -- gave the team the lead for good. McKissic left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return.
2. No Slye, no problem
It's not often that an NFL team finds itself without a kicker, but that is exactly the situation Washington was in for the second half.
During Washington's potential three-point lead that was turned into a tie score, thanks to Seattle's two-point defensive conversion at the end of the first half, Joey Slye tweaked his hamstring and did not return for the rest of the game. That left Washington, which has dealt with kicking issues throughout the season, to convert two-point conversions in the second half.
Washington shrugged that issue off relatively well, as it punched in a conversion with Gibson's legs after an 11-play, 73-yard drive. Not only did it give Washington the lead, but the eight-point hole Seattle found itself in ultimately proved insurmountable.
Washington will have to monitor Slye for the rest of the week as it prepares for the Las Vegas Raiders, but the team did show that it can handle a rare challenge, if needed.
3. Seattle had little success against Washington's defense.
The Seahawks jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the first quarter, fueled by a 55-yard catch from Tyler Lockett.
That was most of the Seahawks' offensive success. The rest of their day, aside from the near late touchdown in the fourth quarter: eight punts and one fumble.
Washington lit a spark under itself when it mattered most, but for much of the second half the offense couldn't sustain drives, either. It didn't matter as much, though, because the defense was suffocating the Russell Wilson-led unit. The Seahawks could only muster 31 yards in the third and fourth quarters and had four consecutive three-and-outs before the 96-yard scoring drive.
Lockett made up most of Seattle's passing attack with three catches for 96 yards, but outside of the veteran's impressive performance, the team's receivers were bottled up. The rest of the Seahawks' pass-catchers combined for 151 yards.
It was a third straight impressive performance from the defense, as it held the Seahawks to 4-of-12 on third down. Week after week, the unit is looking more like the force it was expected to be.
4. Some late night drama.
With 2:19 left and the defense playing well, the odds were in Washington's favor that it would put together a stop to win the game. That stop did come, but it happened at the last second with the looming threat of Seattle tying the game.
Over the course of 10 plays, the Seahawks marched 96 yards downfield, and with 15 seconds left, Wilson connected with Freddie Swain on a wide-open 32-yard touchdown that took Washington's eight-point lead down to two points. On the ensuing conversion, Wilson surveyed his options and fired a shot to Swain that was intercepted by Kendall Fuller.
The game wasn't over yet, though. Seattle tried an onside kick and initially recovered it, but an illegal formation forced it to make a second kick. This time, it was recovered by Adam Humphries. It was some serious drama to end the game, but the important thing is that Washington ended the night with a win.
5. A dramatic turnaround in a month.
There's a lot to celebrate for Washington after Monday night. Aside from claiming its third straight victory since the bye week, it's the team's first win on Monday Night Football since 2012.
And thanks to that win, plus some help earlier in Week 12, Washington now has a hold on the No. 7 seed in the playoffs with six games left to play. That's not too shabby for a team that was 2-6 a month ago.
There's still plenty of time left before the end of the season, though, and Washington has plenty of work left to do. It still needs to play the Las Vegas Raiders, who just defeated the NFC East-leading Cowboys, and five division games are still left on the schedule.
As Jonathan Allen said in his postgame press conference, being in the playoff picture doesn't matter without winning. Head coach Ron Rivera had a similar sentiment, saying that Washington's primary focus is taking care of its business. If it can do that, everything will take care of itself.