The visiting Carolina Panthers took advantage of the mistake-prone Washington Football Team for a 20-13 victory against a team directed by their former coach Sunday in Landover, Md.
The outcome prevented Ron Rivera’s team from clinching the NFC East.
Washington (6-9), which tries next week to claim the divisional title by playing the regular-season finale at Philadelphia, was in position to wrap up the division because of the New York Giants’ loss earlier in the day at Baltimore.
Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., who had a rough week with off-field issues, committed three of the team’s four first-half turnovers.
The Panthers (5-10) won for only the second time since mid-October. It was only the franchise’s second victory in its last 14 December games.
Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was 19-for-28 for 197 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Haskins was 14-for-28 for 154 yards with two interceptions and a lost fumble. He was replaced with slightly more than nine minutes remaining by Taylor Heinicke, who directed Washington on a drive covering more than 85 yards before a sack and a fourth-down touchdown play nullified by a holding penalty led to a turnover on downs.
On the next possession, Heinicke threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to J.D. McKissic with 1:50 remaining. The Panthers recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock.
Haskins started for the second week in a row because of Alex Smith’s calf injury. Heinicke finished 12-for-19 for 137 yards.
The game’s second turnover was a muff by Washington punt returner Steven Sims Jr., resulting in the only points in the first quarter. The ball was batted into the end zone, where Carolina’s Brandon Zylstra recovered for a touchdown.
The Panthers added to their lead on Mike Davis’ 1-yard fourth-down touchdown run in the second quarter. Bridgewater’s 14-yard scoring pass to Robby Anderson helped Carolina to a 20-0 edge.
Washington scored on Dustin Hopkins’ field goals of 48 and 26 yards in the second and third quarters, respectively.
The Panthers were less than two minutes away from holding an opponent without a touchdown for the second time this season. They had a shutout of the Detroit Lions in November.
Rivera was in his ninth season as Carolina’s coach when he was fired during the 2019 season.