The Washington Redskins jumped out to an early 17-0 lead and seemed on cruise control against the Carolina Panthers. In typical Redskins fashion, however, they allowed the Panthers to come back. Fortunately, the Redskins defense got a big stop at the end of the game to help Washington to a 23-17 win.
Washington went three and out on their opening possession of the game. On the ensuing punt Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore, who went to school nearby at the University of Maryland, fumbled the ball. Redskins tight end Jeremy Sprinkle recovered the ball. On the first play of the next drive, quarterback Alex Smith threw a 22-yard touchdown to Vernon Davis.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) October 14, 2018
After forcing the Panthers to go three and out Smith led the Redskins on a 12-play 64-yard drive capped off by a two-yard touchdown pass to Paul Richardson.
With just under six minutes left in the first half Washington took a 17-0 lead following a Dustin Hopkins field goal. The Panthers immediately responded with a touchdown.
Washington then drove the ball into Panthers territory but was forced to punt. With 56 seconds left in the first half Washington took over at the Panthers 33-yard line. An intentional grounding call on Smith set Washington back. They were again forced to punt.
The Redskins faced a 3rd and 7 at the Panthers 40-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Smith fumbled the ball into the air and Redskins left tackle Trent Williams caught it and ran for a two-yard gain. The play by Williams would prove to be vital. On fourth down, Hopkins hit a 56-yard field goal. If it were just a yard more the kick would have been short. It was that close.
Down 20-9 the Panthers responded with a 9-play 75-yard touchdown drive. Washington drained a large portion of the clock on a 10-play drive but was yet again forced to kick a field goal.
The Panthers took over on offense trailing 23-17 with just over three minutes left in the game. The Panthers cruised to the Redskins 16-yard line. After a five-yard run on first down the Panthers threw the ball three straight times. Each throw was an incompletion as Washington held onto win by the skin of their teeth.
In typical Redskins fashion, no game is ever easy. Washington could have scored at least a field goal on each of their final two possessions of the first half. The Redskins offense kept kicking field goals in the second half to keep Carolina in the game.
Moving forward Washington needs to do a better job of taking advantage of turnovers. Washington won the turnover battle three to zero. Those turnovers turned into 10 points. That is simply not good enough. The Redskins offense needs to do a better job of putting teams away. Washington has struggled the entire season on offense after halftime.
One thing that must be cleaned up: The #Redskins have not scored a second half TD this season. They have been ineffective after halftime in all three of their wins.
— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) October 14, 2018
The Redskins defense played well early but struggled in the second half. The Panthers had three possessions in the second half. The drives lasted 11, 9 and 12 plays respectively.
Despite the mistakes, Washington held onto win. At the end of the day is all that matters. The Redskins had the ball for over 35 minutes in the game that was key to the win. The Redskins offense had zero giveaways. Running back Adrian Peterson looked spry rushing for just under 100 yards. Runs like the one below have shown the nation that Peterson still has plenty left in the tank.
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) October 14, 2018
The defense played well at times but the secondary specifically must do a better job in pass coverage moving forward as they were roasted in the second half.
Washington improves to 3-2 and earned their first win over Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and his head coach Ron Rivera. Next week the Cowboys come to town in one of the fiercest rivalries in the NFL.
Will Fairfax is a Washington Redskins editor and staff writer for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @willfairfax1. Looking for more Redskins news and features?Follow @spot_redskins on Twitter.