The 24-10 final score doesn't indicate it, but the Washington Football Team truly did have a chance to beat the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
And while Ron Rivera's past insistence that his squad is only a few plays away each week from achieving better results has felt delusional at times, it did feel like the following three sequences prevented the Burgundy and Gold from logging a true upset bid at Lambeau Field...
A nightmare start to the second half
After keeping things respectable through 30 minutes of action — the Packers took a 14-7 advantage into the locker rooms at halftime — Ron Rivera's group got the ball to open up the third. Unfortunately, they didn't have it for long.
On second down, Rashan Gary knocked Taylor Heinicke's arm as he was attempting to hit a receiver downfield, which forced the ball to come loose. Gary's teammate, Dean Lowry, recovered the fumble to set up Aaron Rodgers on Washington's 27.
Not surprisingly, Rodgers found tight end Robert Tonyan for a 20-yard six-pointer three snaps later to open up a two-touchdown lead.
Whatever momentum Washington had at that point disappeared as soon as Tonyan's feet landed in the end zone.
Taylor Heinicke's touchdown that wasn't
On Washington's second possession of the third quarter, Heinicke efficiently escorted the offense down inside of the home side's 5-yard line. And on a third-down scramble to the right, he looked like he was about to bring the visitors within a touchdown.
However, instead of finishing the play on his feet — he absolutely had the angle on the Packers in pursuit — Heinicke dove headfirst with the ball extended in an effort to break the plane that way. At first, no one seemed to care. Heinicke even went over to the first row of fans for a Lambeau Leap.
But reviews would go on to show that Heinicke's knee hit the grass during his slide before he was able to score, and since he's a quarterback and considered to be giving himself up, the sequence was blown dead as soon as his knee touched. So, the touchdown came off the board, and Heinicke's ensuing QB sneak was unsuccessful.
Instead of cutting into Green Bay's lead and making it 21-14, Washington sauntered toward the sidelines still behind 21-7.
One last fourth-down failure
Despite the two missteps above, Washington still was within shouting distance of the heavily-favored Packers. As depressing as Heinicke's mental mistake on the premature slide was, his defense forced a three-and-out to give him another opportunity.
Once more, Heinicke and Co. was able to advance their operation inside of the 5. But once more, they weren't able to cap their efforts with a touchdown — or any points, actually.
Following two runs and an incompletion, Heinicke lofted one toward Ricky Seals-Jones. The tight end was blanketed, though, and the pass was batted away.
Yes, there was another quarter to go after that turnover on downs, but for all intents and purposes, that was it for Washington. And now that they're at 2-5 with 10 games to go, that might just be it for their 2021 hopes, too.