News & Analysis

NFL Week 16 PFF ReFocused: Carolina Panthers 20, Washington Football Team 13

Dec 27, 2020; Landover, Maryland, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) is congratulated by offensive tackle Taylor Moton (72) after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Football Team during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The NFC East crown is still up for grabs after the Washington Football Team fell to the Carolina Panthers, 20-13, in Week 16.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Story of the Game

Without Alex Smith, second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins started the game after functioning as one of the worst quarterbacks to step on the field this season. Things went as expected against Carolina. Haskins posted a 36.9 passer rating and completed only 50% of his passes.

Completing passes down the football field was a big struggle for Haskins, who completed just two of his 11 attempts on throws 10-plus yards while also tossing two interceptions on those throws. Of Haskins 14 completions, 86% came on passes of less than 10 yards. Haskins was benched for Taylor Heinicke, who tossed a 29-yard touchdown to J.D. McKissic

The absence of star wide receiver Terry McLaurin certainly hurt the passing game. McLaurin has 35% of the team’s receiving yardage this season and 23% of the team’s receptions. 

Dec 27, 2020; Landover, Maryland, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) attempts a pass as Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (99) rushes during the second half at FedExField. Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The trio of Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel combined for 17 of Teddy Bridgewater’s 19 completions. Anderson and Moore now join Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce as the only other duo with 1,000 receiving yards each. 

Even with the offense struggling, the Washington defense played well, specifically Chase Young. The rookie forced and recovered a fumble, recorded a sack, had a game-high five pressures and forced an interception by hitting Bridgewater’s arm. Young also led all players in pressure percentage (15.6%), among those who had at least five pass rushes. 

Rookie Watch

In addition to Young, this game was littered with elite rookie defensive talent. Fellow top-10 pick Derrick Brown led all rookies with two batted passes and recorded two pressures. The safety duo of Jeremy Chinn and Myles Hartsfield combined for eight tackles, while rookie lineman Yetur Gross-Matos added two pressures and a sack. Washington safety Kamren Curl led all rookies with seven tackles and was the first player to make contact on every one of those tackles. 

On the offensive side of the ball, Antonio Gibson saw limited snaps coming off a toe injury. He recorded 69 yards on 13 touches, averaging 6.1 yards per rush. The Panthers' Rodney Smith added 23 yards on the ground and 15 yards receiving in relief of Mike Davis

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