Washington benches QB Dwayne Haskins after multi-turnover day in loss to Panthers

Dwayne Haskins has been benched with a playoff berth up for grabs.

The second-year quarterback was removed from the game in the fourth quarter Sunday, with Washington trailing Carolina 20-6 and Haskins doing little to help the Football Team's efforts. Washington went on to lose the game, 20-13.

Taylor Heinicke replaced Haskins, who started for the second straight in place of the injured Alex Smith. Heinicke completed 8 of his first 11 passes for 65 yards and finished 12-of-19 for 137 yards and a TD.

Washington head coach Ron Rivera said after the game that he stuck with Haskins coming out of halftime due to how he fared in the second half against Seattle in Week 15. When asked what he wanted to see from Haskins moving forward, Rivera simply said: "Just improvement," per team writer Kyle Stackpole.

Rivera also called Heinicke's effort "gutsy" before declining to reveal who would start next week.

"We'll have to see. We'll have to see how Alex is doing and go from there," Rivera said, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post

Haskins exited with a passing line of 14 of 28 for 154 yards and two interceptions. His 36.9 passer rating underscored a forgettable evening for the signal-caller, who was able to play despite violating COVID-19 protocol during the week, for which his captainship was stripped and he was fined more than half of his weekly salary.

The second-year QB initially didn't speak to reporters after the loss but would make himself available from his home, proceeding to call this "the hardest week of my life."

"I got a lot on my mind. I can't really pick the words on how I feel right now," Haskins said. "You sign up for this job. It is what it is. Sometimes being human isn't enough."

After watching the Giants fall to the Ravens, Washington had chance to secure the NFC East with a win. The Cowboys' 3717 win over the Eagles sets up a dramatic Week 17 scenario with the fate of the division on the line.

Ron Rivera's squad faces another destiny-controlling game when it travels to Philadelphia. A win for Washington would hand them its first NFC East title since 2015.

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