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Four takeaways from Washington’s 17-15 win over the Seahawks on ‘Monday Night Football’

J.D. McKissic and the Washington Football team beat the Seahawks on Monday Night Football. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
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Washington extended its winning streak to three games with a 17-15 win over the Seattle Seahawks on “Monday Night Football.” Here are four takeaways from the game:

Kendall Fuller seals a wild win: After Washington’s defense stymied Seattle’s struggling offense for most of the night, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson made a bid to send a game that under normal circumstances would have been out of reach into overtime. With Washington kicker Joey Slye unavailable after suffering a hamstring injury late in the first half, Washington Coach Ron Rivera kept his offense on the field on fourth and goal from the Seattle 3-yard line with a little more than two minutes to play and Washington clinging to a 17-9 lead.

After replay review overturned what was initially ruled a touchdown catch by tight end Logan Thomas, Wilson led the Seahawks 96 yards on 10 plays, capping the drive with a 32-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Freddie Swain with 15 seconds remaining. Wilson looked Swain’s way again in the back of the end zone on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, but cornerback Kendall Fuller was there and came down with the interception to secure Washington’s third straight win.

Washington is in playoff position: Heading into the bye week, Washington had lost four consecutive games to fall to 2-6, and it seemed as if the second half of the season would be nothing more than a formality. With its win Monday night, Washington assumed control of the NFC’s third wild-card spot.

Things broke right around the league for Rivera’s squad before Monday’s game, including the Cowboys’ loss to the Raiders on Thanksgiving Day. With five games remaining against division foes, including two showdowns with Dallas, Washington suddenly has a path to a second consecutive NFC East title. The Saints’ loss to the Bills on Thanksgiving helped Washington’s wild-card hopes, as did losses by the Eagles, Panthers and Vikings on Sunday. FiveThirtyEight’s prediction model gives Washington a roughly 45 percent chance to make the postseason. That would have been laughable three weeks ago.

Washington controls the clock: One constant during Washington’s turnaround has been winning the possession battle, and that trend continued against the Seahawks. Washington’s second drive of the game resulted only in a field goal, but the 15-play march took more than nine minutes off the clock. Washington ran 24 more plays and possessed the ball for 13 minutes more than the Seahawks in the first half.

The disparity paid off against a tired Seattle defense on Washington’s first drive of the second half, when Taylor Heinicke led an 11-play, 73-yard touchdown march that J.D. McKissic capped off with his second touchdown of the game. While Washington went three-and-out on its next three possessions, the offense mounted a 16-play drive that lasted more than eight minutes and would have iced the game if Rivera had a kicker at his disposal in the final minutes. Antonio Gibson finished with a career-high 29 carries for 111 yards, and Washington finished with a 23-minute advantage in time of possession.

Landon Collins makes a momentum-changing play: In the first half of the season, Washington’s defense often struggled to overcome mistakes by an already-limited offense. On Monday, the defense got the ball right back after a turnover. With Washington trailing 7-3, Heinicke tried to fit a throw into a tight window to Thomas, which resulted in an interception by safety Jamal Adams.

After Wilson connected with wide receiver Tyler Lockett for a 39-yard gain, he found running back Alex Collins in the flat. Collins got to the sideline and turned up field, but Washington’s Landon Collins chased him down and punched the ball out of his grasp. Cole Holcomb recovered at the Washington 27, after which Heinicke led a nine-play touchdown drive. Save for Seattle’s final possession and a blown coverage in the first quarter that led to the Seahawks’ first touchdown, Washington’s defense was dominant.

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