As Brandon Johnson miraculously hauled in that tip-drill Hail Mary pass from Russell Wilson, the collective relief in the District of Columbia could be heard from Adams Morgan to Anacostia. Washington, known for its heart-stopping, nail-biting football moments, almost added another chapter to its storied history.

“The Commanders are really going to Commie this up, aren’t they,” some exasperated fan at a D.C. sports bar probably exclaimed. After all, a comeback that showcased strength on both sides of the ball seemed in jeopardy when no Commanders’ defensive back managed to knock that Hail Mary to the turf and end the game.

But somehow, the football gods decided to smile on Washington for once, and the Commanders emerged victorious. They are now an impressive 2-0 for the first time since, well, when they were called something entirely different back in 2011. That season, they started 3-1, had a Week 5 bye, and then proceeded to win just two more games to finish 5-11. But that was then, and this is now.

Welcome to the Commanders, Drake Maye! Just kidding.

In reality, history (hopefully) won’t repeat itself. Washington already boasts a talented North Carolina quarterback in Sam Howell, and the outlook for this season seems much brighter than a mere five-win campaign, even in the fiercely competitive NFC East.

The Commanders may have needed a fourth-quarter comeback at home to narrowly defeat one of the NFL’s weaker teams by just four points in Week 1. Still, they followed it up by dismantling the first-half Broncos, proving they have the potential to compete with the best. Now, with the Bills coming to town in Week 3, it’s a golden opportunity to see if this team can maintain its momentum.

However, there’s a catch — if the Commanders get blown out, the naysayers will lament that it’s just more of the same old mediocrity in the nation’s capital. If Washington wins, skeptics will chalk it up as a fluke, unless it’s a resounding victory. So, in essence, the Commanders have nothing to lose in this matchup against one of the AFC’s Super Bowl favorites.

Well, except for one game.

Despite their two wins, the Commanders’ prospects in the NFC East are not exactly rosy. Philadelphia stands out as one of the two teams with a legitimate shot at representing the NFC in the Super Bowl this season. Meanwhile, Dallas boasts one of the league’s best defenses and could join the 49ers and Eagles as a potential Super Bowl contender if they can overcome their recent history of playoff disappointments.

The Giants’ comeback win over Arizona doesn’t really prove much about their potential, as taking control against one of the NFL’s weakest teams is hardly a jaw-dropping feat. As for the rest of the NFC, most of the teams remain unproven. The Lions and the eventual winner of the NFC South are also likely playoff contenders. With ample room for maneuver, the Commanders could feasibly end the season at 9-8 or even 10-7 and still make the playoffs.

Is this Washington team poised to set the world on fire? Definitely not even close.

Is this Washington team on the rise? Well, that’s a cautiously optimistic assessment.

There have been numerous times when the franchise appeared to “turn a corner,” only to tumble back into mediocrity, as was the case with Robert Griffin III more than a decade ago. But perhaps, with Dan Snyder no longer involved, this optimism isn’t entirely unfounded.

In the words of Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell, “‘AG’ (RB Antonio Gibson) did some good things as well. He did a good job out of the backfield with some catches. He had the big run at the end where he kind of cut back on the outside zone.”

Indeed, Antonio Gibson made a significant rebound in the team’s 35-33 victory over the Denver Broncos. After a fumble-marred Week 1 performance, where he only managed nine yards on three carries against the Arizona Cardinals, Gibson came roaring back against the Broncos.

Gibson played a pivotal role, especially in the passing game. His three receptions for 44 yards, including a spectacular 36-yard catch-and-run during Washington’s go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter, demonstrated his versatility and importance to the offense. His contribution ultimately helped secure the win.

While Gibson remains the secondary rusher behind Brian Robinson Jr. in the backfield, Sunday’s game proved that he still has a significant role to play. If he can seize the opportunities presented to him, as he did against the Broncos, Gibson’s number should be called more frequently.

Now, with the Buffalo Bills on the horizon, the Commanders are gearing up for another test. If they can maintain their upward trajectory and secure a win, it will further solidify their position as a team on the rise.

So, while Washington may not be ready to take the NFL world by storm just yet, there’s a glimmer of hope in the air, and fans are cautiously optimistic about the season ahead. Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself, and the Commanders can truly build on their early success.