The Washington Redskins made the trip up to Orchard Park, New York, to play the Buffalo Bills in Week 9 and fell to 1-8. Here are five takeaways from their 24-9 loss:
1. Dwayne Haskins makes his first-career start.
Haskins got all of the first-team reps in practice with Case Keenum in the concussion protocol all week, and that extra work paid off for the rookie signal caller.
Haskins looked efficient with the ball in his hands, finishing the game 15 of 22 for 144 yards. His accuracy was on display early, as he completed four of his first six passes on the Redskins’ opening two drives.
The offense scored nine points, which tied last week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings for the most points the team has scored since the win over the Dolphins on Oct. 13. Callahan has made it clear the starting quarterback is a week-to-week situation, but there was a lot of good to be seen with Haskins at the helm.
“I thought he was really efficient in a lot of areas,” Callahan said. “I thought he managed the offense well. I liked how he functioned in pre- and post-snap [reads]. I thought his reads were clean. I’m sure, like any quarterback, he wants a couple of plays back. But overall, it was a pretty efficient day.”
2. Big plays hurt the Redskins early.
The Bills were quick to jump out to a lead, but two of their first three scoring drives were fueled by big plays that gauged the Redskins.
Washington had the Bills pinned at their own 14-yard line with 5:31 in the first quarter, but quarterback Josh Allen connected with running back Devin Singletary on a screen pass that went 49 yards. It happened again later in the drive when Allen threw a 25-yard pass to John Brown that went down to Washington’s 2-yard line.
The Bills settled for a field goal, making the score 10-0.
After the Redskins responded with a field goal of their own, Andre Roberts took the ensuing kickoff 66 yards down to the Redskins’ 39-yard line. That drive ended in a touchdown 11 plays later.
3. Adrian Peterson is still stiff-arming Father Time.
Adrian Peterson is second-oldest active leading rusher in the NFL at 34 years old, but he looked about 10 years younger against the Bills.
Peterson has been a more active piece in the Redskins’ offense Callahan took over and since offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell took over play calling duties, and that trend continued against the Bills. Peterson started the Redskins’ third drive of the game with three straight runs that went 18, 17 and 28 yards, respectively. That drive ended in the team’s first points of the game in the form of a 29-yard field goal from Dustin Hopkins.
Peterson finished the game with 18 carries for 108 yards, crossing the 100-yard mark before halftime for the 11th time in his career.
"We wanted to establish the run, and I think the offensive line did a great job creating opportunities for us," Peterson said. "The receivers did a great job blocking and staying on their guys down field."
4. Red zone efficiency made all the difference.
Both offenses found success against the opposing defenses, but the deciding factor was that the Bills were coming away with touchdowns while the Redskins had to settle for field goals.
Allen and the Bills got to work early in the first quarter by moving down to Washington’s 6-yard line and capping off the drive by completing a pass in the end zone to receiver Cole Beasley.
Two drives later, the Redskins were on the verge of returning the favor. With its offense fueled by Peterson’s runs, the team worked its way down to Buffalo’s 10-yard line. But the offense sputtered at that point with Haskins taking a sack on 3rd-and-2, forcing the Redskins to kick a field goal.
Each team’s offense got into the red zone two more times before the end of the first half, and the results were the same; Allen crossed the goal line on a 4th-and-1, while Hopkins ended an eight-play drive with another field goal.
It’s been 13 quarters since the Redskins scored a touchdown and has been even longer since they scored one in the red zone. The last one came against the Chicago Bears during Monday Night Football in Week 3.
"I don't know," Peterson said of what is causing the Redskins' red zone struggles. "It's just missed opportunities."
5. The defense held strong in the second half.
The third quarter began with the Redskins down, 17-6, and in need of a boost to stay in the game. The defense was determined to provide it.
After moving the ball with ease in the first two quarters, the Bills were stonewalled for much of the second half. The Redskins didn’t break on Buffalo’s first drive after the break, which ended in the Bills turning the ball over on downs, and forced three straight punts.
It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter that the Bills put the game away for good. With just under six minutes left in the game, Allen and the Bills marched the ball 46 yards down the field and punched it in with a two-yard run from Singletary.
Buffalo gained 158 yards of offense in the first half but was held to 95 yards in the second. And although the Redskins couldn’t come away with the win, there were signs of improvement that showed they weren’t done fighting to pull the upset.
"We adjusted well at halftime," said linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. "They had a couple of wrinkles that we adjusted in the second half that allowed us to play better."