Dwayne Haskins bounces back, but early woes proved too costly for Washington

LANDOVER, Md., -- Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins showed, once more, the good and the bad. It explains why Washington fell behind by 17 points to Seattle. And it explains, in part, how it was able to come back – and nearly stun the Seahawks.

For much of Sunday’s 20-15 loss to Seattle, Haskins looked like a guy who wouldn’t be starting next week – if Alex Smith doesn’t return from a strained calf muscle. In the second half, helped by a defense that shut down Seattle, Haskins showed that maybe he could help them if he needs to keeps starting.

Washington (6-8) entered with a one-game lead over the New York Giants in the NFC East. It plays Carolina next week.

Haskins completed 38-of-55 for 295 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. This is a team that knows it can't drop back 55 times and win many games; certainly, that was proven again Sunday.

Haskins made his first start since Week 4, when he was benched after a 1-3 start. Coaches wanted to see better preparation from him, among other things. They wanted him to execute better on the field – go through his progressions properly and handle protection calls right.

But one thing Haskins has shown in his two seasons with Washington is resilience. He displayed that again Sunday. Haskins struggled for most of the first two-and-a-half quarters. In the first half, he completed 15-of-24 passes for only 98 yards and an interception. The pick was critical because it came at the Seattle 27-yard line and removed a chance for points. The Seahawks drove 97 yards for a touchdown. Haskins forced a pass that sailed on him to Isaiah Wright; it was tipped in the air. Those missed points proved critical in the end.

His second pick came on a first down at the Seahawks’ 43-yard line, a first-and-10 in which Seattle corner D.J. Reed looked like he would carry receiver Terry McLaurin deep. That would have left a deep crosser open for Cam Sims. But Reed dropped off, perhaps reading Haskins’ eyes, and made the easy pick.

However, after that point Haskins came to life as did the offense. He led touchdown drives of 96 and 64 yards to get Washington within 20-15. A late drive reached the Seattle 23-yard line before Haskins took two sacks and threw incomplete on fourth-and-24.

Haskins did not impress the previous week in relief of Smith. There’s a long road he still must travel to get where Washington needs Haskins to be considered a legitimate quarterback of the future. Right now, though, Washington just needs someone that can help them win a game to stay in the playoff race.

Silver lining: There were a couple. Tight end Logan Thomas caught 13 passes for 101 yards and continues his effective season. He caught a career-high 16 passes last year; he now has 62 receptions this season. Thomas provides a good underneath security blanket for whomever plays quarterback for Washington. He’s not dynamic, but he creates enough separation and uses his size well. Also, Washington’s defense was much better in the second half and even created a turnover that led to a touchdown.

Promising trend: Washington continues to recover from deficits. It is, of course, bad that it fell behind by double digits in yet another game but the fact it keeps rallying in these games says quite a bit. Yes, it would have been good to finish the comeback, but Washington continues to show a resilient mindset. Sunday was a day it had no business coming back, considering it was with a young backup in Haskins and had lost three defensive starters to injuries last week.

Pivotal play: There were many and Haskins' two picks certainly proved critical. But a missed extra point by kicker Dustin Hopkins after Washington's first touchdown left them in a position to go for two later. It failed to convert the two-pointer on its next touchdown; otherwise, Washington would have been at the Seattle 23-yard line with a chance to kick a game-tying field goal late. Instead, it needed a touchdown and failed.