The Washington Post

Defense steps up

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Third down was a bugaboo for Washington’s defense in 2021, when the team allowed opponents to convert 48.5 percent of the time, the second-worst mark in the league. The problem continued during the preseason but was absent in the opener against the Jaguars, who converted only three of their 12 third-down attempts. With Jacksonvil­le clinging to a 22-20 lead and driving midway through the fourth quarter, Daron Payne made one of the plays of the game, a third-down sack of quarterbac­k Trevor Lawrence at the Washington 48-yard line.

Safety Darrick Forrest, who started in place of the injured Kamren Curl, was the Commanders’ defensive star. The second-year pro out of Cincinnati helped deny the Jaguars points before halftime when he leveled running back Travis Etienne after a reception in the flat, forcing a fumble out of bounds, and then broke up a pass intended for Zay Jones in the end zone on the next play. Riley Patterson’s ensuing field goal attempt bounced off the right upright. Forrest had another pass breakup on a twopoint conversion attempt in the second half and intercepte­d Lawrence on Jacksonvil­le’s desperatio­n final drive to all but seal the win.

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