The Washington Football Team controls the NFC East heading into the final three weeks of the 2020 season.
Following Sunday's two-defensive-TD performance in beating the San Francisco 49ers, 23-15, Washington vaulted into the division lead with its fourth straight victory.
The defensive catalyst, rookie edge rusher Chase Young, said Washington isn't celebrating Sunday's win but rather focusing on the task at hand.
"We're not done yet," Young said, via ESPN. "I like to think, 'What would Kobe [Bryant] do?' He wouldn't be smiling. He'd put his head down and keep working until he achieved what he wanted to achieve. ... That's the vibe of the team right now. We're not satisfied."
On Sunday, Young played like a possessed monster, wrecking seemingly every Niners offensive play. The rookie tossed aside blockers like they were throw pillows, gobbled up running backs, and harassed 49ers QB Nick Mullens into a boatload of mistakes. There is a good bet that when Mullens closed his eyes to sleep Sunday night, images of a raging Young haunted his dreams.
The leader for Defensive Rookie of the Year completely changed the course of the game late in the first half. A forced fumble led to a field goal to pull Washington within one point. Two drives later, Young flipped the script of the contest with a fumble recovery for a TD that gave his team a lead it'd never relinquish.
Sunday, Young compiled a sack, six tackles, two QB hits, a tackle for loss, two passes defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a score. Young became one of five players since 2000 to record a sack, force a fumble, recover a fumble, record a defensive TD and have two passes defensed in a single game -- others: SEA Bobby Wagner (2018), GB Charles Woodson (2009), S Adam Archuleta (2003) and CLE Courtney Brown (2001). Young is the only rookie with such a game since 2000.
Young is one of three rookies since 2000 with 5-plus sacks, 3-plus forced fumbles and a defensive TD in a single season (5.5 sacks, 3 FF, 1 defensive TD) -- others: WAS Ryan Kerrigan (2011) and NO Charles Grant (2002).
The rookie edge rusher wasn't playing alone. The entire Washington defense suffocated Kyle Shanahan's run scheme and pummeled Mullens repeatedly. The Football Team forced two fumbles, added a Kamren Curl pick-six and recorded four total sacks, 12 QB hits and 11 passes defended.
Ron Rivera's team, however, isn't here for the superlatives. It's here to win the NFC East.
"We're trying to talk about where we're headed, not where we've been," Rivera said. "We're relevant in the conversation, and we have to maintain and be humble."
Credit Rivera for seeing the opening to swipe the division when he made the move from Dwayne Haskins earlier in the year. Most scoffed or at least raised an eyebrow at the suggestion a 1-3 team that seemed to be floundering had a chance at the postseason.
Now, Washington, with a one-game lead in the division, controls the NFC East.
Depending on Alex Smith's calf injury that forced the veteran from Sunday's game, Rivera might need Haskins' help to keep the grip on the division. Neither QB had much success Sunday afternoon. The credit for the victory goes to a playoff-ready Washington defense.
Young and the rest of that D knows they must keep destroying opponents to accomplish the goal of winning the division.
"It feels good because we're seeing flashes of what we talked about early in the season," Young said. "The only thing [we have to do is] keep going. We can't let up."
Week 15 brings a matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, before Washington closes with games against Carolina and Philadelphia.