Washington loses thriller in Detroit, 30-27, as penalty helps foil Alex Smith’s career game

The loss was much like others for Washington this season: a train wreck of a first half, an impressive second half and as many positive plays as costly mistakes. The penalty by Young wasn’t the sole reason for Washington’s loss; it was merely last on a long list of self-inflicted wounds.

“I thought we played well enough to win,” Coach Ron Rivera said. “It’s just unfortunate it didn’t work out that way. Like I told the guys, we left nine points out on the field and we gave them three. You can’t play against two teams on Sunday — them and us. And sometimes we do ourselves in by some of the mistakes we make.”

Washington tied the score at 27 to give Detroit 16 seconds to try to win it before the game would go into overtime, and the Lions nearly did on a deep pass along the left sideline. But after he overthrew Quintez Cephus, Matthew Stafford was pushed to the ground by Young, and the roughing-the-passer penalty gave Detroit a free first down and moved it 15 yards closer to field goal range.

After Stafford’s quick completion to Marvin Jones Jr., Matt Prater nailed the long kick for the win as the clock expired.

The loss is crushing for Washington’s playoff hopes, minimal as they may have been, but it showed the resolve of its players — especially its quarterback. Smith had career highs in completions (38), passing attempts (55) and passing yards (390); completed 69 percent of his passes; spread the ball to eight different receivers; and, for the first time in his career, had back-to-back 300-yard games. More significant, he turned around an offense that sputtered in the first half.

“I think that the scary part was how normal it felt,” Smith said. “It felt really good; it felt really normal and a little bit of I got to pinch myself of how lucky I am to feel that way.”

The game’s opening sequence was a snapshot of Washington’s greatest frustrations this season. Smith led the offense to the Detroit 14-yard line after completing 22- and 19-yard passes to Isaiah Wright and Terry McLaurin scrambling for five yards himself and turning to his backs to carry the rest.

But a reverse to J.D. McKissic was blown up and resulted in a loss of 10 yards. And then Smith was sacked for a loss of 14 yards. Washington not only lost its chance to finally score a touchdown on its first possession, but the sack took it out of field goal range.

Detroit needed only five plays and 1:52 to score on its opening drive. After the Lions picked up 37 rushing yards, Stafford found wide receiver Marvin Hall, who sped past cornerback Kendall Fuller for a 55-yard touchdown.

Fuller hadn’t allowed a single touchdown in coverage this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Two drives later, he was involved in another long passing touchdown, though it’s unclear whether it was he or cornerback Jimmy Moreland

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Jaylen Waddle injury: Alabama football loses its brightest star

Good injury luck is a big factor in every football season, and Alabama has gotten none of it the last two.

Last year, the Crimson Tide lost linebacker Dylan Moses before the season and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa during it, with the latter injury contributing directly to an Iron Bowl loss that ended any hope of reaching the College Football Playoff. This year, the injured party is receiver Jaylen Waddle—merely the most explosive player in the college game.

Waddle broke his right ankle being tackled while returning the opening kickoff of Alabama’s 48–17 rout of Tennessee Saturday. You knew the injury was bad right away, when Waddle was taken to the locker room without putting any weight on his leg. Later in the half, he was loaded on an ambulance and left the stadium. Before the second half kickoff, CBS reported that coach Nick Saban said Waddle is done for the year.

He will, almost assuredly, be done for his Alabama career as well. The junior from Houston is a first-round NFL draft talent.

Saban said Waddle will fly home separately from the team with doctors, who will evaluate him and expedite his treatment, which likely will begin with surgery.

“It’s really a sad time for me for Jaylen Waddle and for his family,” Saban said. “The guy’s a great player, a great teammate, an exciting player to watch. I hate that people in college football can’t see him play more. We’re going to coach the players we have and do the best we can to try to get better.”

Waddle came into Saturday’s action ranked fourth in the nation in receiving yards per game at 139.3. His 22.28 yards per catch led the nation for all receivers with 20 or more receptions. Blinding speed helped him make a catch of at least 45 yards in every game this season, including touchdowns of 90 and 87 yards.

On a team full of offensive stars, Waddle was the brightest—and was perhaps the top Heisman Trophy candidate among non-quarterbacks. This is a big loss for Alabama, and all college football fans who enjoy explosive athletic talent.

But if there is one position where the Tide can absorb an injury, it is receiver. Alabama has become Wide Receiver University in the last decade, churning them out one after another. From Julio Jones to Amari Cooper to Calvin Ridley to Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, the talent at that position has been ridiculous over the last decade.

Despite Waddle’s brilliance, he was not Alabama’s team leader in receptions. That was DeVonta Smith, with 38. And there is sophomore John Metchie, who has become a playmaker this season after seeing few snaps last year. Metchie came into the game against Tennessee with 14 catches for 348 yards and three touchdowns, surpassing Waddle’s average reception yardage at 24.86. Afterward, the sophomore said, “We have a lot of weapons…. I think we all have faith and trust in the next man who has to step up.”

Sophomore Slade

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