- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 18, 2020

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — More than a quarter into the season, Ron Rivera hasn’t been afraid to make controversial calls regarding his football team. He’s made a change at quarterback. He’s skipped timeouts. He’s gone for it on fourth.

None of Rivera’s decisions were as bold as Sunday’s roll of the dice: With 36 seconds left, after just scoring a touchdown against the New York Giants, Rivera passed on the point after, going for two and the win instead.

No luck this time.

Kyle Allen failed to convert the two-point conversion in Washington’s 20-19 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Allen threw an incompletion — coming up short after Washington had rallied with a 22-yard completion to Cam Sims.

With the incompletion, Washington went from vying for at least a share of the NFC East lead to last behind the previously winless Giants.

Before Sims’ touchdown and Rivera’s gamble, Allen made his second big mistake of the afternoon that led to points for the Giants.

As the Washington quarterback was being dragged down, Allen coughed up a fumble that was immediately scooped up by Giants linebacker Tae Crowder. By the time Allen got up, the Giants were already celebrating the go-ahead score.

An earlier first-quarter Allen interception led to a Giants touchdown drive, and by the day’s end, the turnovers had proved the difference

If Washington was really going to compete in the NFC East, this was a win the team had to have.

Rivera made the bold choice to bench Dwayne Haskins and start Allen two weeks ago with a push for the division in mind.

There were other adjustments Sunday. Washington swapped out safety Troy Apke for Deshazor Everett and made veteran linebacker Thomas Davis a healthy scratch.

The offensive line also saw changes, with Pro Bowler Brandon Scherff returning and fourth-rounder Saahdiq Charles inserted at guard.

Despite the moves aimed at fueling a sense of urgency, there were too many familiar mistakes that put Washington in a hole early.

There was the promising offensive drive that ended with zero points (a missed 47-yarder from Dustin Hopkins). There was the befuddling, inexplicable interception (Allen’s errant first-quarter throw right to cornerback James Bradberry).

There was the big coverage breakdown that resulted in almost another 50-yard gain, as Giants quarterback Daniel Jones ran free for 49 yards as Landon Collins and a sea of other Washington defenders struggled to catch up. Jones’ scramble led to another field goal as Washington trailed 13-3 early into the second quarter.

But Washington responded — in large part due to a gutsy call around midfield.

A Tress Way punt just before halftime was called back on a running-into-the-kicker penalty, Rivera accepted the five yards — and decided to go for it on fourth-and-5. That play was crucial for Washington as Allen scrambled outside and fired off a pass in tight quarters to Dontrelle Inman for the 14-yard completion.

The catch moved Washington in scoring territory, and Allen continued to march down the field. The quarterback capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown to tight end Logan Thomas — floating in a perfectly placed ball to Thomas in the back of corner of the end zone.

The spark carried over into the second half. Washington produced a timely interception when Kendall Fuller picked off Jones in the end zone near the end of the third — Fuller’s fourth INT his season.

With the ball at the 20, Allen led Washington on another lengthy drive that was boosted by another gamble from Rivera. Washington successfully challenged a spot play in which referees initially ruled Allen down on third-and-1. But the call was reversed after officials saw on replay that Allen had extended his arm for the first down.

The drive eventually stalled out in the red zone, but came away with three points to tie the game at 13.

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

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