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The New York Giants and Washington Commanders entered Sunday’s game in sixth and seventh place, respectively, in the NFC. For either team, a win would significantly increase their playoff odds.
Instead, seventy minutes of football was not enough to determine a winner, as Sunday’s Week 13 tilt ended with a 20-20 tie between the two teams. And after the game, Commanders’ players and coaches were unsure how to feel.
“That was very hard. I’m not quite sure what to say,” head coach Ron Rivera told reporters present after the game. “Kind of a disappointment in some respects.”
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who admitted postgame he’d never been part of a tie before, offered a similar perspective as his head coach.
“It’s a weird feeling. It pretty much feels like a loss,” Heinicke said. “But, obviously, in the bigger picture, it doesn’t count as one. So we’ll move on from this. … We’ve got to get ready for them again.”
Defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and running back Brian Robinson Jr., both Alabama alumni, also said postgame they’ve never been part of a tie.
Like his teammates, Allen didn’t know how to feel following the game. But the 2021 Pro Bowler did offer a strong opinion on whether ties should exist in the NFL.
“I just don’t understand how five and a half hours can end in a tie,” Allen said. “Hopefully it’s something that moving forward, the league looks at. I don’t think an NFL game should be able to end in a tie. It’s weird. I don’t know how to feel because I don’t know how it affects us. So, we’ll see.”
“It just feels like there was more left to be played,” he later added.
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Part of the reason the Commanders didn’t know how to feel postgame was because the contest itself featured a ton of ups and downs, yet there was no conclusive result one way or another.
Washington started the game with excellent energy on both sides of the football. Allen forced a fumble on the Giants’ opening drive, which then led to a Joey Slye field goal. The Commanders forced a three-and-out on the Giants’ next offensive possession, then followed that up with an eight-play, 62-yard drive capped off by a Terry McLaurin touchdown.
After going up 10-0, however, things started to go south for the Burgundy and Gold. The Giants scored on their next four offensive possessions, turning a 10-point deficit into a 20-13 lead. That score held for almost the entire fourth quarter before the Commanders’ second-to-last drive in regulation.
In under two minutes of game time, Heinicke led the Commanders on an eight-play, 90-yard drive to tie the game. The scoring drive was capped off by a 28-yard touchdown from Heinicke to Jahan Dotson, as the rookie scored his team-high fifth receiving touchdown of the season.
The Commanders had one final drive to win in regulation, but it resulted in a Tress Way punt with just seconds remaining. Neither team could get much going offensively in regulation; the 10-minute extra period concluded with a 58-yard field goal attempt by Graham Gano coming up short.
“I feel like we had multiple opportunities to finish it,” Heinicke said. “Unfinished is a great word for that game.”
Despite Sunday’s result not being a loss, disappointment was a common theme among Commanders players following the game.
“I feel like everybody is kind of disappointed,” Robinson said. “We weren’t expecting a tie game. it’s kind of like a mellow vibe. We don’t feel like we won the game. … We had several opportunities. We’ve got to clean it up and do better.”
The good news for both teams is that in two weeks, they play again at FedEx Field. With Sunday’s game ending in a tie, the Week 15 contest carries even more weight for both teams’ playoff chances.
“This game that we’re going to play here in two weeks means double,” Allen said. “I’m gonna need the fans of the Commanders to really show out. I’m going to provide as many free tickets as I can. We need everybody there. This game could be the season. We need full support and that stadium rocking.”