LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — After thinking he lost his job as the Washington Commanders’ starting quarterback, Sam Howell was back on the field Sunday doing what he has been doing a lot of lately: throwing interceptions.
With Jacoby Brissett sidelined by a hamstring injury that popped up late in the week, Howell threw two more picks in a 27-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The second-year pro has thrown the most interceptions in the NFL this season with 19, and those mistakes continue to overshadow any of the progress he might have made.
Howell said he didn’t know until about two hours before the game that he would be playing. He finished 17 of 28 for 169 yards.
“I didn’t get much work in practice, but I’ve gotten work all season long,” Howell said. “I feel prepared even when I didn’t get the reps this week.”
Howell made some strong throws, but the interceptions were clearly on him. He was sacked for a league-leading 61st time, and it didn’t help when Washington (4-12) fell behind and was in obvious passing situations for much of the second half.
“Early on, when things were balanced, it was one of those things that the situation gave him the opportunity and he performed,” coach Ron Rivera said. “I thought he made some good decisions, threw some really good balls. Obviously there were a couple throws I promise you he would wished he had back, but he did a lot of good things.”
Rivera announced Wednesday the Commanders would be turning to Brissett after pulling Howell from each of the previous two games. Brissett’s hamstring was still tight, according to Rivera, leading to Howell getting the nod instead, with Jake Fromm elevated from the practice squad to back up.
With one game left against Dallas next weekend — one that could decide the NFC East between the Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles — Rivera was not yet ready to say who might start for Washington, which could pick as high as second in the draft.
It’s likely to be Rivera’s final game with the organization after four seasons, with new ownership poised to make major changes. But the veteran coach isn’t ready to give up on Howell having a future in the league.
“I still think he has that opportunity to be that guy,” Rivera said. “I believe he’s a guy that can be very, very good in this league. There’s some things he still has to grow on, obviously, and we can be better and help him, as well.”
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