- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 18, 2020

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When Washington made the switch from Dwayne Haskins to Kyle Allen less than two weeks ago, coaches stressed that they weren’t asking their new quarterback to be anything more than a game manager. They wanted someone who could efficiently run the offense and put them in a good enough position to come out with victories.

That changed Sunday.

For Washington to have a shot at beating the New York Giants, Allen would have to a late drive down the field.

He got Washington into the end zone, but it wasn’t enough for the win, as Allen and the offense failed to convert a two-point attempt with 36 seconds left.

The comeback bid fell short in a 20-19 loss, and Allen’s performance was indicative of Washington’s day as a whole — good for stretches, poor for others. Against the Giants, Allen managed to show his upside — and his limitations.

Coach Ron Rivera said Allen, who threw for 280 yards on 31 of 42 passing, showed enough to earn another start next week when Washington hosts the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field. The coach added he was pleased with his quarterback, but didn’t gloss over his mistakes.

“He’s got to do a little bit better with the ball,” Rivera said.

Allen had two costly turnovers, both of which resulted in touchdowns for New York. A first-quarter interception was thrown right to Giants cornerback James Bradberry as Allen misread the zone coverage. 

Bradberry’s 19-yard return gave New York the ball on Washington’s 27, and the Giants scored just three plays later when Daniel Jones hit Darius Slayton for a 23-yard score.

The second turnover almost put the game out of reach. 

Tied in the fourth quarter, Allen coughed up a fumble at midfield that was immediately scooped up by linebacker Tae Crowder and returned for a touchdown. Allen said he was trying to step up in the pocket when the ball was poked out, he said.

“I can’t make that mistake there,” Allen said.

Turnovers, of course, proved to be a big problem for Allen last year with the Carolina Panthers. In 13 games, the quarterback tossed 16 interceptions and fumbled 13 times. The turnovers were a driving force behind Carolina’s seven-game losing streak to end the year.

On Sunday, though, Allen responded to his turnovers with productive plays. After his interception, Allen led Washington on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a field goal from Dustin Hopkins.

Then, in his most impressive drive of the game, Allen bounced back from his fumble with an efficient 10-play, 80-yard possession that resulted in a 22-yard touchdown to Cam Sims. Allen found Sims down the sideline, needling the throw over safety Logan Ryan.

“We’re just going to keep fighting,” Allen said. “That’s all I know how to do, just keep fighting. We need to clean up the mistakes and do this and that. We’re working through a lot of things, but I’m proud of the way we fought. I think that’s a mentality we’re starting to build around here.”

Allen’s throw to Sims was one of the quarterback’s two touchdowns. In the first half, Allen perfectly placed a ball to Logan Thomas on a 5-yard fade route in the end zone. 

Last week against the Los Angeles Rams, Allen’s first start was cut short as he exited the game with a shoulder injury. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner had criticized Allen for the injury, calling it a result of being “reckless” on a play Allen didn’t need to make. The quarterback got hurt diving for a first down in the second quarter. Allen agreed, saying he should have been more aware of the circumstances.

Rivera, however, has highlighted Allen’s willingness to throw himself into a play. Even discussing Allen’s injury, Rivera, who played nine years in the NFL as a linebacker, said the “gung-ho linebacker” part of him admired Allen’s resolve.

Against the Giants, Rivera saw a similar type of effort.

“His statistics are pretty darn good, he was 31 of 42 for 280 yards,” Rivera said. “Unfortunately, he did have the interception and the fumble, but we totaled 337 total yards. That gives us an opportunity, if we’re scoring points, to be competitive in a game, and I think we got what we wanted out of it in terms of being competitive.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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