Washington ran the football well in Sunday's loss to Carolina, and while the team only gave the ball to its running backs 15 times, head coach Ron Rivera doesn't believe the team got away from the run too early.
“Not necessarily, because before I knew it, it was 13-nothing then 20-nothing. So to answer that question, no," Rivera said Sunday night when asked if Washington stopped running the ball too early.
A key series in the game happened early in the first quarter where Washington called four consecutive run plays that gained 27 yards. On the fifth play of the drive, quarterback Dwayne Haskins dropped back to pass, and he was hit in the hand and fumbled, which the Panthers defense pounced on.
"I thought we were running the ball well, and we had a great opportunity to throw the ball," Rivera said. "Unfortunately, when we threw the ball, we had it knocked out of his hand and then it just kind of turned on us after that.”
On their next offensive series, again Washington ran the ball well. The drive opened with three carries for Antonio Gibson that gained 22 yards, but then two incompletions from Dwayne Haskins forced another Washington punt.
After that came a stalled drive from Carolina, but disaster struck on the ensuing punt when Steven Sims muffed the kick and Carolina recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.
At that point in the game, rookie running back Antonio Gibson had seven carries.
On their next possession, Washington went three-and-out, and on the next series the Washington defense gave up a long run that led to another Carolina TD.
All of a sudden Washington trailed by two touchdowns, and on the next offensive possession, Haskins threw an interception.
"I thought we abandoned the run when we needed to," Rivera said.
For the game, Gibson finished with 10 carries for 61 yards. It was a strong bounce-back game from the dynamic rookie after missing most of the last three games with a toe injury.
J.D. McKissic chipped in with four carries for 15 yards and Peyton Barber had one rush for 10 yards.
The run game was there, but according to Rivera, game flow forced Washington to play catch up, and that meant throwing the ball.