CHICAGO — If there was one visual that summed up how ugly Thursday’s 12-7 win was for the Washington Commanders — or for anyone who watched — it was when Carson Wentz’s hand smacked off the other hand of a nearby Chicago Bears defender.
The quarterback tried to shake off the pain. And shake. And shake. And shake.
Any replay of the sequence — with Wentz’s bent fingers — wasn’t pleasant to watch. But then again, neither was the rest of the contest.
It was only fitting that a punter swung the game.
The Bears muffed a 54-yard punt from Washington’s Tress Way, which the Commanders recovered at the 6-yard line, setting up a go-ahead touchdown from rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr.
That was — just barely — enough for the Commanders, who prevented Chicago from scoring over the final eight minutes to get a badly needed win on a bad day in a bad season for the franchise.
The Commanders improved to 2-4, holding on after a late Chicago drive following a missed 48-yard field goal attempt from Joey Slye. The Bears then worked their way all the down to the 1-yard line, but a completed catch on fourth-and-goal came up short just inches from the pylon.
Again, it wasn’t pretty.
Hours earlier, ESPN dropped a bombshell report that said Commanders owner Dan Snyder has told associates that he has “dirt” and uncovered secrets on several NFL owners, and Commissioner Roger Goodell that he could “blow up” the league if they attempt to take away his franchise away amid multiple scandals.
Snyder’s representatives strongly denied the story, with a team spokesperson calling it “categorically untrue” — but it marked another dark day for a team that has been plagued by controversy over the last few years.
The Snyder story overshadowed what had already been a hectic week for the Commanders. Days earlier, coach Ron Rivera created a wave of headlines when he initially answered “quarterback” when asked the reason why Washington’s NFC East rivals had been further along in their respective builds than the Commanders.
Rivera tried to clarify that he didn’t intend it to be a shot at Wentz — even apologizing to the team a day later for creating a distraction — but the public relations damage had already been done.
Wentz, though, insisted he and his coach were fine and instead focused on the Bears. But the quarterback was also dealing with his own problems. Wentz popped up on the injury report this week with a right shoulder injury — and the NFL Network reported earlier Thursday that the ailment is actually a biceps tendon strain. Wentz suffered the injury in last week’s loss to the Titans.
Wentz was cleared to play, but he again struggled under center. The 29-year-old finished with 92 yards on 12 of 22 passing.
Wentz spearheaded what was mostly an anemic offense. Luckily for Washington, Chicago was just as inept.
The Bears’ lone touchdown of the game happened on a 40-yard bomb when quarterback Justin Fields found Dante Pettis in the end zone. Chicago even with the Commanders having 12 defenders on the field. Washington was whistled for the penalty, though Chicago obviously declined it.
The Commanders were able to avoid a disastrous loss. The Bears had three trips inside the 10 — only to come up empty each time.
But at this point, Washington will take any win it can get.