For the second time this season, Monday Night Football featured a game that was decided by more than 20 points. This time around, it was the San Francisco 49ers that defeated the Washington Redskins by a score of 27-6.
What were the most significant takeaways from the final game of Week 12 of the 2013 NFL regular season?
The 49ers moved to 7-4 with the victory, while the Redskins dropped to 3-8 on the year. It was a meeting between two of the most promising quarterbacks in the NFL in Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick, but only one of the two was able to shine.
That's where it all starts.
|49ers vs. Redskins Box Score|
|San Francisco 49ers||7||3||14||3||27|
Colin Kaepernick Is Still Dangerous
If only one individual managed to send a message during Monday Night Football, it was Kaepernick. After virtually a full season of lackluster play, he stepped up with a multi-touchdown game on prime-time television.
In case you'd lost sight of this in the midst of his sophomore-as-a-starter slump, Kaepernick is a very dangerous player.
He was 15-of-24 for 235 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and 20 rushing yards. He found Anquan Boldin five times for 94 yards and two scores and linked up with tight end Vernon Davis for another one.
The scary thing is, the 49ers passing game is going to get significantly better.
Mario Manningham had four receptions for 45 yards, which is the first step in developing the offense. With Michael Crabtree expected to return before season's end, the passing attack can only get better for San Francisco.
The Niners are a force to be reckoned with.
Washington's Offense Needs Help
The Washington Redskins have struggled during the 2013 regular season, but not like this. For all that's been made about Washington's struggles, the offensive line had allowed just 22 sacks entering this game, and RG3 had managed to put points on the board.
Against the 49ers, the Redskins allowed four sacks and seven brutal quarterback hits. Griffin completed roughly 63 percent of his passes, but even his completions went for short gains against a dominant 49ers defense.
In the end, it became clear that there's one critical piece missing from the Redskins' offense: playmakers.
Pierre Garcon caught eight passes for 48 yards, continuing a career year that shouldn't go unnoticed. Alfred Morris is a star running back, and Griffin III is still dynamic, but the Redskins lack players who can take short passes and turn them into long gains.
This all added up to the worst day of Griffin III's football career.
Playing without breakout tight end Jordan Reed certainly didn't help.
Griffin III, Morris, Garcon and Reed make for a very promising core of players moving forward. What the Redskins need, however, is a reliable slot receiver who can work the short-to-intermediate game and another deep threat to take the pressure off Garcon.
Until those players are acquired, Washington will be prone to letdowns like this.
Race for NFC Wild Card Is Unpredictable
With the 49ers winning on Monday Night Football, there are now five NFC teams with a record of 6-5 or better that aren't leading their respective divisions. That doesn't include the 5-5-1 Green Bay Packers, which are expected to return Aaron Rodgers before the end of the year.
The No. 5 seed in the NFC is currently the 8-3 Carolina Panthers, and the No. 6 seed is the 7-4 49ers. Also in the hunt are the 7-4 Arizona Cardinals and the 6-5 Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles.
If Chicago and Philadelphia are to win their respective divisions, both the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions are also 6-5. What this creates is a race for two spots that is not only a source of uncertainty but a wide-open race.
The only question is, which teams will prevail?'
With only five weeks remaining in the regular season, all of the listed teams have entered must-win territory. There isn't a single game on the schedule that isn't must-win, and a single defeat could be the difference between making and missing the postseason.
Who's ready for a wild final five weeks?