There is something poetic, in a melancholy sort of way, about Washington Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr. leading his team to a hard-fought 19-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on the day the franchise honored the late Sean Taylor — the playmaking All-Pro safety who was murdered in an attempted robbery in 2007.
Just three months after Robinson was shot twice in an attempted carjacking, the 23-year-old rookie eclipsed 100 yards rushing in a game for the first time as a pro and added a 14-yard catch-and-run touchdown on a rainy and miserable afternoon when offense was difficult to come by.
Burgundy and gold clad fans arrived at the stadium with their thoughts on a physically-imposing player who was taken from us all far too soon. A few hours later, those same supporters headed home with ample cause for celebration, in large part to another hard-hitting youngster who is incredibly fortunate to be here today.
Against the Falcons, Washington also benefitted from a swarming defense playing aggressive and confident football. By smartly leaning into a dynamic ground game and a rejuvenated defense, the Commanders have won six out of seven games for the first time since 2012 and are firmly in playoff contention — a drastic turnaround after their dismal 1-4 start. This is an identity that has proven successful countless times over the years in the National Football League.
Led by Robinson, Washington amassed a season-high 176 rushing yards, which means less is asked of quarterback Taylor Heinicke and the passing game. On the other side of the ball, dynamic tackles Jon Allen and Daron Payne generate enough consistent pressure up front, that it frees up the rest of the defense to just go out and make plays. Related: With the outcome very much in the balance and the Falcons just four yards away from a victory, cornerback Kendall Fuller saved the day by intercepting a deflected pass in the end zone with roughly one minute remaining in regulation.