The Falcons knew the Commanders would come to town well-rested and in a bad mood.

When we last saw the Commanders, they were getting thrashed 40-20 by the Bears on national television on a Thursday night game on Oct. 5.

In a bid to earn some respect, behind three touchdown passes from quarterback Sam Howell, the Commanders defeated the Falcons 24-16 on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“We had our chances,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “You have to take advantage of your opportunities. We have to find ... turned the ball over. We turned the ball over too much lately. ... The bottom line is we didn’t win the game. We didn’t get the job done. Washington did.”

Going back to last season, the Falcons had won five games in a row at home.

The Commanders improved to 3-3, while the Falcons dropped to 3-3.

The Falcons had several opportunities, but had three costly interceptions thrown by quarterback Desmond Ridder, who completed 28 of 47 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. He had a passer rating of 66.5.

With a chance to tie the game, his second interception was extremely costly. His pass intended for Drake London was intercepted by Washington cornerback Benjamin St-Juste.

“That was just a miscommunication,” Ridder said. “It’s third down there. I was trying to make a play. A miscommunication from myself to Drake. I just trying to give him a chance. He went one way and I threw it the other. It was just a miscommunication.”

Despite some stout defensive play, the Falcons couldn’t overcome the blunder/miscommunication.

“Obviously, you look back and the end of it, I was also under pressure so I was just trying to get it up,” Ridder said. “That’s one that we have to go back, learn from and figure out a way to be better.”

Howell completed 14 of 23 passes for 151 yards and the three touchdowns and no interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 119.7.

The Commanders held a 17-10 lead at halftime, just the second time Washington enjoyed a halftime lead this season, the other time coming back in Week 4 against the Eagles.

Washington got a 37-yard field goal from Joey Slye on its opening possession.

The Falcons answered with a touchdown drive. Ridder tossed a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Pitts to cap an 11-play, 75-yard drive that took 5:59 off the clock.

It was the first time this season the Falcons scored on their opening possession. They had three-and-outs in four other games and against the Packers they picked up a first down, but then threw an interception.

The Falcons forced a punt, but couldn’t move the ball. Bradley Pinion’s punt was returned 61 yards by Washington’s Jamison Crowder down to the Falcons’ 11-yard line. He busted the return right up the middle of the coverage unit and was eventually tackled by Tre Flowers.

“Can’t score,” Flowers said of what he was thinking as he gave chase. “Play defense. I pride myself on playing defense and special teams. I know we’ve got a good group. We just have to kill (explosive) plays and help this team win.”

After a nine-yard pass to Curtis Samuel and a one-yard run by Brian Robinson, Howell tossed a one-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gibson. Slye’s kick made it 10-7.

Washington coach Ron Rivera made it a habit of taking gambles back in his days with the Panthers. So much so, they started calling him Riverboat Ron. In the second quarter, both coaches went for it on fourth down with varying results.

After missing a deep shot to newly acquired wide receiver Van Jefferson, the Falcons went for it on fourth-and-3 from Washington’s 48. Ridder’s pass intended for Bijan Robinson was incomplete.

The Commanders got the ball back and on fourth-and-1 from Atlanta’s 43, Howell faked the ball to Brian Robinson and kept it for a four-yard gain.

“We had chances,” Falcons outside linebacker Bud Dupree. “We didn’t make the stops. Particularly me, in the one moment, I should have had that stop. I saw the play happen. I should have just trusted the instincts and went ahead and took (the quarterback).”

Four plays later, Howell tossed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Samuel. Slye’s kick put the Commanders up 17-7 with 5:18 left in the second quarter.

The Falcons could only muster a 47-yard field goal over their next three possessions, which also included a punt and a Ridder’s first interception to Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller.

After the interception, which was on the Falcons’ opening drive of the third quarter, Howell tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robinson. Slye’s kick made it 24-10 with 12:03 left in the third quarter.

Falcons’ head coach Arthur Smith continued to gamble, converting a fourth-and-4 from Washington’s 15, with Ridder connecting with Mack Hollins for a seven-yard gain. After a three-yard run by Bijan Robinson and a neutral zone infraction by Washington’s Chase Young, Ridder tossed a two-yard touchdown pass to Jonnu Smith to make it 24-16.

It was a 12-play scoring drive that covered 81 yards and took 6:53 off the clock.

Smith gambled again and went for a two-point conversion. The initial two-point attempt resulted in a pass interference call on St-Juste. On the subsequent run from one yard out, Tyler Allgeier was stuffed.

The Falcons’ defense held on the Commanders’ next possession, and a Washington punt gave the Falcons the ball on their 11 with 10:53 to play. Atlanta got the drive started with a 32-yard pass to London.

The Falcons picked up a key roughing the passer penalty on Washington linebacker Cody Barton to help keep the drive alive. Instead of a sack for minus-eight yards, the Falcons were in business, first-and-10 on Washington’s 16-yard line.

Allgeier picked up 11 yards on a run to move it down to 5-yard line. Three plays later, Ridder tossed an ill-advised pass off his back foot with a blitzer in his face and it was intercepted by St-Juste.

The defense got another stop with their fifth sack of the day. And after another Washington punt, the Falcons had the ball at their 42 with 3:29 to play.

The Falcons, who were a bit disorganized and had to call a timeout, couldn’t move the ball, and Ridder’s fourth-and-8 pass intended for Pitts was broken up with 2:24 to play.

The defense held once more, but Ridder finished the final desperation drive with another interception, this one by linebacker Jamin Davis.

The Commanders have beaten the Falcons in each of the last three seasons.

The Falcons are set to play at Tampa Bay at 1 p.m. next Sunday.

“We have to kick it up,” Dupree said. “We need to take another step. That’s good that we’ll be able to bounce back this week with a division game. That’s a beautiful thing. We need to focus on winning the next game.”

The Bow Tie Chronicles