The Washington Football Team's win over the Bengals was necessary for Ron Rivera's club, but it wasn't exactly notable because of anything it did.
Instead, it beat up on Cincinnati once Joe Burrow unfortunately went down, notching a second victory of the year over an opponent who was forced to turn to a backup quarterback mid-game.
If you're looking for something that you can confidently take away from Sunday, however, let it be this: Washington functions so much better when it is in front - or at least just hanging around.
Also, the sky is blue and chocolate tastes good. There, now that we've gotten a lot of obvious stuff out of the way, let's continue.
While the Burgundy and Gold — or, thanks to the retro uniforms the hosts wore at FedEx Field in Week 11, Burgundy-er and Gold-ish is more fitting — still couldn't find a way to put up points on the opening drive, they did score the first points of the contest. Instead of facing a 7-0 deficit, they had the pleasure of owning one.
Now, after Antonio Gibson scored for Washington, the Bengals scored a TD of their own (and missed the extra point) before adding a field goal right before the half. So, Washington trailed by two at the break, which, though not exactly positive, was much better than the eight-plus point gap they've gotten used to seeing after 30 minutes so far this season.
By grabbing the initial advantage and then remaining close heading into the third quarter, Washington didn't need Alex Smith to throw and throw and throw like he did in Detroit during a furious comeback attempt. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner could stay balanced with his play calling and Smith didn't need to do anything heroic.
The defense, on the other hand, didn't face a steady diet of run plays from their foes, which is something that's happened often in previous losses, especially later in the action. The defensive line hasn't dominated as expected in 2020, but they have been better getting after QBs than they have been at limiting running backs. When you're not down double digits, you get to do more of the former and less of the latter.
Again, none of this is gasp-loudly-and-tell-the-person-next-to-you type analysis. Football is an easier sport when the score is close or it's in your favor. But that might be extra true for a squad like Washington, which doesn't have enough difference-makers to dig out of the holes made in most of its losses.
Yet Washington won't have those issues if there's nothing to dig out of. Somehow, if it can secure some more early leads in the near future, then perhaps it'll also secure the NFC East lead soon as well.