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Hail or Fail: Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel help Commanders salvage a draw

Jahan Dotson scores the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

A look at the good (Hail!) and bad (Fail!) from the Washington Commanders’ 20-20 tie with the New York Giants on Sunday.

Hail: Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel

Terry McLaurin was his usual self, finishing with eight catches for 105 yards and a touchdown to become the sixth player in NFL history with at least 50 catches and 900 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons. McLaurin’s fellow wide receivers made plays in the passing game, too. Dotson and Samuel, who were held catchless last week, combined for 11 receptions for 117 yards against the Giants. Dotson, Washington’s promising first-round rookie, had a dazzling 28-yard catch, spin and run for the game-tying score in the fourth quarter. It was his team-leading fifth receiving touchdown of the season and his first since Week 4.

Fail: Ties

The group stage in Qatar may be over, but ties remain a possibility in the NFL, and players in the Commanders’ locker room weren’t quite sure how to feel. In the spirit of the World Cup, McLaurin suggested penalty kicks to decide the winner. “It’s not a win-win, but it’s not a loss-loss,” rookie defensive tackle John Ridgeway said after the NFL’s second tie this year. “It’s like I came here to say hi to a couple guys and left.”

A tie is better than a loss, but it’s still an unsatisfactory result. Washington is 0-3-2 in overtime games since the start of the 2015 season and is the only NFL team without at least one overtime win during that span. Washington’s previous tie was a 27-27 draw with the Cincinnati Bengals in London in 2016. The Giants hadn’t tied since the infamous game when Washington quarterback Gus Frerotte head-butted a wall at FedEx Field in 1997.

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Hail: Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen

Washington’s DT duo continued to dominate. Allen forced a fumble on New York’s first possession and added a sack and eight tackles. Payne had two sacks, including one in overtime, increasing his team-leading total to 8.5. Allen and Payne helped limit Giants running back Saquon Barkley to three yards on seven carries after halftime.

Fail: Backup cornerbacks

It was a tough afternoon for Giants veteran Fabian Moreau and Commanders rookie Christian Holmes, both of whom were pressed into starting roles because of injuries. Moreau, who spent the first four seasons of his career with Washington, missed a tackle on McLaurin’s touchdown catch, was later flagged for holding and dropped an interception in the final minute of regulation. Holmes, filling in for Benjamin St-Juste, fell down on a 55-yard reception by Darius Slayton and got turned around on a touchdown catch by Isaiah Hodgins. He was replaced by Danny Johnson in the second half.

Hail: Long drives

The Commanders averaged 9.5 plays on their four scoring drives and finished with a 12-minute advantage in time of possession, thanks in part to a rare eight-minute, 38-yard march that culminated in a punt from their own territory. Washington began its 11-play drive to nowhere, which started at the 5-yard line after Antonio Gibson muffed a kickoff in the third quarter, with six consecutive runs.

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Fail: Officiating

The Commanders deserved most of their seven penalties, including a holding call on rookie tight end Cole Turner that took Washington out of the red zone on a drive that culminated in a missed field goal early in the fourth quarter. They also had reason to be upset with a few calls and no-calls, including a flag for an illegal block by Logan Thomas on the aforementioned eight-minute drive and a flag on Moreau for defensive pass interference near the end zone that was picked up before halftime. New York rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux wasn’t penalized for ripping Cornelius Lucas’s helmet off in the fourth quarter.

Hail: Heinicke magic

Heinicke was inaccurate throughout the game and lost a fumble that led to a Giants touchdown early in the second half, but, as he has done more often than not since taking over for Carson Wentz, he stepped up with the game on the line. On a pivotal fourth down at the start of Washington’s game-tying touchdown drive, Heinicke scrambled to his left and threw across his body, connecting with Samuel for a 20-yard gain.

Fail: In-game flexing

Leading 20-13 with six minutes remaining in regulation, the Giants began a drive in Washington territory with a chance to put the game away. After a 12-yard catch by Slayton, center Jon Feliciano was penalized 15 yards for taunting when he flexed his biceps in the vicinity of several Commanders players. The Giants failed to pick up another first down and were forced to punt, setting the stage for Heinicke’s heroics. Feliciano said he was flexing at Slayton, but officials misinterpreted the gesture. “Obviously we shouldn’t even be in that situation,” Giants Coach Brian Daboll said.