Chase Young and Kamren Curl scored defensive touchdowns as the Washington Football Team overcame an injury to quarterback Alex Smith to claim first place in the NFC East by defeating the San Francisco 49ers 23-15 on Sunday afternoon at Glendale, Ariz.
Dustin Hopkins kicked three field goals and the Washington defense stopped the 49ers (5-8) on four potential game-tying, fourth-quarter possessions to secure a fourth straight win. Washington (6-7) now sits alone atop the NFC East with three games remaining after the New York Giants’ loss on Sunday.
The 49ers’ Jeff Wilson Jr. scored on a short run and Kyle Juszczyk on a short pass for the game’s only offensive touchdowns, but San Francisco was undone by three turnovers, two of which Washington turned into scores.
Curl’s touchdown came on a 76-yard interception of a Nick Mullens pass on the final play of the third quarter, giving Washington a 23-7 lead.
Juszczyk’s TD catch from Mullens from 6 yards out, coupled with a Mullens connection with Kendrick Bourne on a two-point conversion, got San Francisco within one score at 23-15 with 10:24 remaining.
But San Francisco, which lost top wideout Deebo Samuels on the first play of the game to a hamstring injury, could not score on any of its last four possessions, including getting stopped on downs at the Washington 44 with 1:38 to go.
Washington used Dwayne Haskins Jr. at quarterback in the second half after Smith, bothered most of the game by a sore calf, couldn’t return to the game after the break. Smith finished 8-for-19 for 57 yards with one interception, before Haskins went 7-for-12 for 51 yards.
Young almost single-handedly was the difference in the first half, during which Washington overcame a 7-0 deficit to take a 13-7 lead.
Washington was down 7-3 midway through the second period before Young stripped the ball from the 49ers’ Wilson, leading to a 31-yard field goal by Hopkins.
Later in the half, Daron Payne swatted the ball out of Mullens’ possession, after which Young scooped it up and dashed 47 yards for his first NFL touchdown and a 13-7 lead with 1:11 left.
Mullens finished 25-for-45 for 260 yards and one touchdown along with the one interception. Brandon Aiyuk was the game’s top pass-catcher with 10 receptions for 119 yards.
The 49ers outgained Washington 344-193 en route to their fifth loss in their last six games.
Washington’s J.D. McKissic, getting more touches than usual with Antonio Gibson out with a toe injury, was the game’s leading rusher with 68 yards on 11 carries.