ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - The Washington Football Team traveled north to Buffalo for a "measuring stick game" and in the process found that stick stuck in their eye.
Washington's offense was bad. Washington's defense was worse.
The Bills did what they wanted when they wanted. At all times. It was a throttling.
For Washington head coach Ron Rivera, if he's giving an honest assessment of his football team after this measuring stick game, the distance for the Burgundy and Gold to play championship football needs to be measured not in yards but rather in miles.
Stock traders always suggest to "buy the dip." That basically means to load up on a valuable stock after a bad moment, assuming that value will come back over time. After what happened in Buffalo, it's hard to assume value will return in Washington's stock.
- Homerun hitter - There wasn't much to celebrate but Antonio Gibson reminded the NFL world of his big-play ability. On a well-timed screen call Gibson grabbed a fairly simple pass about 3 yards to the right of the line of scrimmage. He proceeded to make a few defenders miss, hit a lane, cut back and showed explosive speed on his way to a diving touchdown. This was easily the best play Washington made in Buffalo.
- Simple but better - The wind was swirling at Highmark Stadium but the Washington special teams' units were able to fight through the conditions. The team even pulled of a weird "onside" kick down the field that bounced around before landing in Dustin Hopkins' arms. There's not much to celebrate today and at least the special teams didn't mess up.
- The opposite of good - It's time to stop discussing Washington's defense with any sort of positivity. The group was awful on Sunday, allowing a 17-play, 93-yard touchdown drive to open the second half and effectively end the game. Washington came into Sunday's game ranked 30th out of 32 teams on third down stops, and that will probably fall to dead last after this game. At one point before the game was wildly out of reach, the Bills were converting 70% of their third downs and had controlled possession with a more than 2 to 1 ratio. At halftime, Washington had given up 27 points and more than 300 total yards. At halftime.
- Secondary problems are primary - Washington did a decent job controlling Bills star WR Stefon Diggs, but Buffalo's second and third options in the pass game carved Jack Del Rio's group up. Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley combined for 192 receiving yards, two touchdowns and 16 catches. Whether it was scheme, or confusion, or miscommunication, or whatever buzz word might get thrown around, the secondary has major problems.
- Hand in hand - Perhaps the Washington secondary is struggling because the pass rush isn't generating sacks. Bills QB Josh Allen had complete command of this game from the opening snap en route to 358 yards passing and four touchdowns. He also ran for a TD. Chase Young and Montez Sweat did not hold their edges, and frequently Allen was able to duck under their upfield rush and find open spaces to look for wideouts downfield. The pass rush has not been good enough. Period. And Allen made it more obvious than ever that Washington's presumed strength in its defensive front is anything but at this point in the season.
- The bad is worse than the good - Washington QB Taylor Heinicke never quits, plays hard and has a nose for the end zone. His highlights in this game will be remembered by his supporters, but his two interceptions both came on awful decisions on throws into traffic. If Heinicke is going to be a QB that Washington can count on, he can't make plays like that. He's a smart instinctual player, but the picks were dumb. He's not good enough to make dumb mistakes.