After watching franchise rookie quarterback Joe Burrow carted off the field with a serious left knee injury early in the third quarter, the stunned Bengals watched Washington score the last 13 points of the game in a 20-9 loss.
Burrow tweeted near the end of the game, "See ya next year."
It was a devastating blow for a team that was looking to Burrow to lead them to a strong finish to end the challenging 2020 season.
The Bengals had a 9-7 lead when Burrow went down and 255 yards. After their next three series, they were down 20-9 and had gained just eight yards.
On pace to break the NFL rookie passing record and on fire again with 203 yards in Sunday's first 35 minutes while leading a 250-yard effort, Burrow was hit as he stepped up in the pocket to throw deep down the right sideline to wide receiver Tyler Boyd on a third-and-two pass from the Bengals 10 that was broken up.
Burrow grabbed his left knee in anguish following a hit by Washington defensive tackle Jonathan Allen. The play was so jarring that CBS didn't show the replay after it appeared Allen got tangled up and ended up caving the outside of Burrow's knee.
The Bengals turned to backup Ryan Finley, who had taken just one snap this season after making three starts as a rookie. After carving through the Washington defense with Burrow, the Bengals offense had trouble adjusting to the new quarterback. The offensive line didn't allow a sack until Finley came in and he was sacked once in each of the next four possessions.
The Bengals made a switch in the middle of that third quarter, turning to starting right tackle Bobby Hart to replace rookie Hakeem Adeniji as Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio unleashed a torrent of blitzes.
After Burrow went 22 of 34 for 203 yards, Finley was three of 10 for 30 yards and they had just two first downs, one on a Finley scramble on third-and-18. Boyd led the offense with eight catches of 85 yards.
The Bengals defense pitched a solid game, but they were on the field the entire second half. Rookie end Khalid Kareem had his first NFL sack and veteran safety Vonn Bell had ten tackles. Washington quarterback Alex Smith game-managed it with 166 yards.
The game basically ended on a Finley interception.