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Riverboat Ron Rivera fine with his losing gamble for Washington

Dexter Lawrence (97) and Blake Martinez (54) bottled up Washington quarterback Kyle Allen on a 2-point try, securing New York's first victory of 2020.
Dexter Lawrence (97) and Blake Martinez (54) bottled up Washington quarterback Kyle Allen on a 2-point try, securing New York's first victory of 2020.John Minchillo/Associated Press

While it failed to provide Washington with a win, few are second-guessing Ron Rivera’s gutsy decision to go for a potentially winning 2-point conversion in the final minute Sunday.

Rivera wasn’t. His players weren’t, and even New York Giants coach Joe Judge expected the 58-year-old cancer survivor to go for a victory after seeing his new team lose four straight following a season-opening win.

“It’ll eat at me because we lost,” Rivera said shortly after the Giants held off Washington, 20-19, to give Judge his first win as a head coach. “I want to win. I’m playing to win. I’m trying to get our players to understand this is how we’re going to do things.”

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The former Chicago Bears linebacker had to like the toughness of his team. After falling behind 20-13 following a 43-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Giants rookie linebacker Tae Crowder with less than 3½ minutes to play, Washington tied the game on a 22-yard pass by Kyle Allen to Cam Sims with 36 seconds to play.

“I don’t care this is my first year. I don’t care we have a group of young guys who have to learn,” Rivera said after Washington fell to 1-5. “We’re trying to teach them. We’re going to teach them. They’re going to learn how to win, and at the end of the day that’s what we’re here for.”

It was a day for discussions about 2-point decisions. Up seven in Tennessee after a touchdown with 1:50 to play, Romeo Crennel’s Texans went for 2 to try and take a two-score lead on the unbeaten Titans; Deshaun Watson’s pass was incomplete, and Houston ultimately lost. Philadelphia, meanwhile, rallied from a 16-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter against Baltimore, but Carson Wentz couldn’t convert the potential tying 2 with 1:55 remaining.

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Had Philadelphia simply kicked the extra point after scoring its first touchdown midway through the third quarter, cutting their deficit to 17-6, they could have tied the game with a simpler extra point.

Bengals still learning how to win

Cincinnati started fast in Indianapolis, but ended up where they usually do. After building a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter and scoring on their first four possessions, Cincinnati managed only one more field goal and headed home with a 31-27 loss.

“I don’t know what happened in the second (quarter), I guess we just let off the gas, and we can’t do that,” rookie receiver Tee Higgins said. “We’ve got to stay in full throttle the whole game and finish it up.”

It’s a lesson Cincinnati (1-4-1) learned the hard way, in one where they seemed to be doing everything right. Joe Burrow, whom the Bengals took No. 1 after a 2-14 season last year, was a solid 25 of 39 with 313 yards. He scored the Bengals' second touchdown, a 2-yard run on fourth down to make it 14-0, and the only major mistake he made came on an interception into coverage with 39 seconds left in the game.

Still, he blamed himself.

“I’ve just got to make a better play, make a better decision. I knew [Julian Blackmon] was over there, I didn’t know he was that tight,” Burrow said. “I played well for three quarters and 14 minutes. One bad play.”

“We came out and started strong, put them in a tough position,” coach Zac Taylor said. “Our defense plays like they’re on fire, and then a couple things didn’t go our way. If we would have put points on the board on offense in the third quarter, late in the second quarter, the defense would kind of have that pressure off of them and go back and [play] like they did in the first quarter."

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Win one for the new guy

With a fresh start and little to lose, the Atlanta Falcons played like it from start to finish against Minnesota, rolling one week after the firing of head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

“I can’t worry about where it’s been. I’ve just got to worry about where it’s going,” said interim coach Raheem Morris, who was given the game ball afterward. “The guys really did a good job of dictating terms and showing disguise and coming out and really confusing them a little bit to get themselves in position to make great plays."

Big loss for Pittsburgh

⋅ Pittsburgh second-year inside linebacker Devin Bush tore his ACL in his team’s 38-7 rout of the Browns, according to Fox Sports; coach Mike Tomlin only called it a “significant knee injury” after the game. Bush, who had not missed a defensive snap all season, injured his left knee in the second quarter when he took an awkward step while attempting to break up a pass.

Taylor Lewan is feared to have torn his ACL during Tennessee’s comeback victory against Houston, according to Fox. Lewan went down clutching his knee during the third quarter. Moving gingerly, he proceeded first to the sideline medical tent, then the locker room.

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⋅ Giants coach Joe Judge said receiver C.J. Board has movement in his limbs after suffering a concussion and neck injury in the team’s 20-19 win over Washington. Board was carted off the field and taken to a hospital after he was hit by safety Deshazor Everett while trying to catch a low pass on a crossing pattern in the third quarter. Everett previously had been whistled for a personal foul for a late hit on quarterback Daniel Jones following a third-down scramble.

Xavien Howard’s second-quarter interception of Joe Flacco was his fourth of the season, and gives him an interception in four straight games, the second-longest streak in Miami history. Dick Westmoreland had a five-game streak in 1967. Miami’s kicker, Jason Sanders, is on a run of his own, hitting from 24 yards in third quarter to move to 15 for 15 on the year, a franchise record to start a season.

⋅ Jacksonville allowed at least 30 points for a franchise-record fifth consecutive game in losing to Detroit, giving up more than 400 yards for the fourth time in six games this season. It should be enough to at least put defensive coordinator Todd Wash’s job in jeopardy. But coach Doug Marrone made it clear nothing could be further from the truth.

“As long as I’m here and I’m the head coach, yes, he’s safe,” said Marrone.

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⋅ Jaguars kicker Jon Brown was part of history, his team’s record fifth different kicker in as many weeks. He also hit the right upright on a 31-yard attempt, joining Josh Lambo, Brandon Wright, Aldrick Rosas, and Stephen Hauschka, who all also had at least one miss.