Sam Howell throws an inexplicable end zone interception right to Patriots S Kyle Dugger

Sam Howell made better decisions. (Paul Rutherford/Reuters)
Sam Howell made better decisions. (Paul Rutherford/Reuters) (USA Today Sports/Reuters)

That’s not how the Washington commanders put it.

Late in the first half against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Washington had a chance to take a halftime lead in a game in which they trailed 14-10. After taking possession with 6:01 left, the Commanders drove 75 yards in 15 plays for a first-and-goal drive at the five-yard line. Then disaster struck.

With 23 seconds left and Washington holding all three timeouts, quarterback Sam Howell took a shotgun shot and then rolled to his right. The Patriots left seven men in coverage, which created tight passing windows to the end zone. Howell couldn’t find an open receiver.

As he approached the sideline, Patriots linebacker Mack Wilson beat his blocker and put pressure on Howell. Howell got rid of the ball. But he didn’t throw it out of bounds. Instead, he did this:

That’s a pass directly to Patriots safety Kyle Dugger, who grabbed the ball in the end zone for an interception, ruining Washington’s scoring chance. There was no Washington receiver in sight.

Jahan Dotson was closest, but he was at the end line and nowhere near the ball. Three Patriots defenders had a better chance of catching the ball than Dotson. It was an inexplicable decision by Howell at a point where the Commanders would have had three more shots into the end zone after one throw.

It was a tough week for the Commanders, who gave up the white flag of the season by trading pass rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young. Plays like Howell’s interception don’t make things any easier.

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