SEATTLE (AP) — Sam Howell showed more signs Sunday that he may be the long-term answer at quarterback for the Washington Commanders.
His latest encouraging performance came in yet another close loss.
Howell did his part, especially in the fourth quarter, to give the Commanders a chance at a second straight road victory. But Washington was unable to stop Seattle on its final drive, and Jason Myers kicked a 43-yard field goal on the final play of the game to give the Seahawks a 29-26 win.
“We just got to find ways, when the game is tied, to go out there and make the plays and take control of the football game,” Howell said. “You don’t want to be in position where you got to go down, make a drive late to tie the game. We would like to be on the other side.
“Credit to our defense for most of the game, just keeping us in it. We made some plays down the stretch, but got to be better throughout the game to beat good teams like that.”
Four of Washington’s last five losses have come by one score, including two close defeats against NFC East-leading Philadelphia and a baffling setback against the last-place New York Giants. The Commanders (4-6) looked like a better team than the Seahawks for stretches on Sunday, but that won’t show up in the standings.
Howell, a fifth-round draft pick last year, gave the Commanders a chance. He threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter that pulled the Commanders even. He threw a 51-yard TD pass to Brian Robinson Jr. on the fourth play of the game, scrambling to buy time and hitting the open running back on the sideline.
In the fourth quarter, Howell found Antonio Gibson for a 19-yard TD with 8 minutes left to pull even at 19-all, and he threw a 35-yard touchdown to Dyami Brown with 52 seconds left that tied the game at 26-26.
Howell was 8 of 13 for 109 yards in the fourth quarter alone.
“Everything I thought he did, he gave us an opportunity to win. That’s the biggest thing you can ask from the quarterback, put you in position to win. He did that,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said. “Now, there were a couple things that you would like to have back, obviously. Couple decisions that could have been better and those are things that I’m nitpicking but things he’s going to learn and he’ll get better with.”
Despite Howell’s lack of experience, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is giving him plenty of chances to throw the ball. The Commanders averaged 4.9 yards per carry against Seattle but attempted only 14 runs. They put the game on Howell’s arm and he responded. His only major miscue was a fumble in the third quarter at the end of a 15-yard run.
“He’s balling, man. He’s showing some crazy stuff. He’s really developed,” offensive lineman Sam Cosmi said. “You can see from the beginning of the year to now, I mean, it’s just like, ‘Wow.’ The thing that’s really cool to see, he’s like taking the coaching and he’s putting it out there.”
Rivera, whose job status for next season is the subject of much speculation in Washington, was frustrated that his team’s defense couldn’t make a stop in the fourth quarter. Geno Smith led Seattle on a pair of scoring drives in the final minutes, throwing a touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett with 3:47 left to take the lead and then finding DK Metcalf for two big completions on the last drive to set up the winning field goal.
“Probably the biggest disappointment is we had to be better there,” Rivera said. “Got to take advantage of that opportunity. It was unfortunate. It was set up in a good situation and we didn’t get it done.”
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