Washington Commanders 31 – Philadelphia Eagles 34, OT
It was an unseasonably warm day in South Philadelphia as the Eagles welcomed the Washington Commanders to the Linc; to open up NFC East Divisional play.
Although Taylor was not in attendance, Mama Kelce and Jake “From State Farm” were; and the Eagles would need every bit of their personal protection plan: aka Jake Elliott.
The Philadelphia Eagles Kicker (Elliott 4/4 XPs, 2/2 FG) would once again play a crucial role in keeping the Eagles season unblemished.
The Commanders were unphased by the hyped-up Philly crowd and coming off back to back wins vs the Broncos & Cardinals; brought that confidence and execution from their first drive until the final whistle in Overtime.
The Commanders took the opening kick, ran 14 plays, 75 yards 7:08 off the clock and punched it in for the first score. 7-0
The Eagles would counter with a 12 play, 75 yard drive of their own; using 6:35 before D’Andre Swift walked in from 5 yards out. 7-7
Not phased in the least bit, the Commanders casually walked down the field on 7 plays, 75 yards in only 3:21 seconds taking a 14-7 lead.
The next three possessions were typical NFC East divisional fodder. The teams traded punts, ran a total of 11 plays and limped towards the half; but not before getting on the board one more time each.
Washington would settle themselves first and take advantage of James Bradberry Defensive Pass Interference penalty (suspect) lining themselves up for a FG try from 27 yards (Sly 1/1 FG, 4/4XPs) 17-7.
Needing a score of their own to save face with the ever growing grumpy Philly crowd, the Philadelphia Eagles drove 52 yards on 8 plays, 1:39 and utilizing their timeouts; lined up Jake Elliott from 41 yards as the half ended 17-10.
Philadelphia would receive the second half kick and struggle to move the ball only netting a Fg to start the 3rd. 17-13
Washington would begin to feel the Philly defensive pressure and promptly punted the ball back to Philadelphia after 4 plays.
This time, the Eagles would not squander the opportunity to pounce on the Commanders. A deep pass to Smith (7, 78 yards) and a masterful catch and run (assisted by great downfield blocking) to AJ Brown (9, 175 yards, 2 TD) who would rumble 59 yards to the house. 21-17 Eagles
For the first time in the game, Washington looked a little rattled; possibly fatigued from the warm weather or extra cheesesteaks last night, who knows? Nonetheless, 6 plays and a punt later; the Eagles appeared ready to blow the game wide open.
Philadelphia took the punt and began to carry out one of their textbook offensive drives; or so it seemed: 10 plays 51 yards using 4:59, but no touchdown? On a very manageable 2nd and 10, from the Washington 16 yard line; Hurts rushed for -1 yard and the quarter came to an end. Everyone at the Linc knew they were on the verge of a score, but it needed to be 6, not 3.
Then something very perplexing happened. Faced with a 3rd and 11; the Philadelphia Eagles RAN the ball. Kenny Gainwell would Fumble; recovered by Lane Johnson (Eagles) but effectively killed the drive and gave Washington life. Jake Elliott would convert on the 36 yard FG pushing the Eagles lead to 24-17.
Filled with signs of life and finding themselves in a one score game; Washington ran a superb drive; 11 plays, 75 yards 6:14 ending in a beautiful Brian Robinson 15 yard TD run. 24-24
Philadelphia came back onto the field and was notably shell shocked. After being in complete control and overcoming a slow start; they were forced to punt the ball back to Washington after only mustering a 4 play drive.
Unfortunately, Washington couldn’t get out of their own way and was only able to manage a 6 play drive; before punting back to Philadelphia.
Philadelphia would get the spark they needed as Covey would take the short punt and return it 20 yards to the Eagles 43 yard line. Jalen Hurts (25/37, 319, 2 TD) and the offense were now primed to set up Elliott for a possible game winning FG. However, with 1:43 left to go in the game and Washington only having one timeout left; Hurts hit AJ Brown for 28 yards and the go ahead touchdown. 31-24 BUT!!!! The Eagles were flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty giving Washington 15 extra yards on the ensuing kickoff.
Washington would NOT disappoint. Masterfully maneuvering the ball down the field, using their final timeout with 1:09 left; Howell (29/41, 290, 1 TD) positioned the Commanders at the Eagles 10 yard line with 5 seconds left needing a touchdown to tie. Howell dropped back and fired a quick shot over the middle that fell harmlessly to the turf; leaving 1 miniscule second on the clock. Then lightning struck; Howell found Dotson for the game tying score as time expired 31-31.
Washington would win the coin toss and elected to receive the kick. However, they could not get anything going and had to punt the ball back to Philadelphia after 3 plays and 5 yards.
Philadelphia would not make the same mistake twice. On another short field, using a balanced attack, the Eagles drove 23 yards; setting up Jake Elliott for a game winning FG attempt. The Philadelphia Eagles’ most clutch player all year would once again be the hero. 54 yards off the foot of Elliott propelling the Eagles to a 34-31 victory.
Statistically, this was an exemplary game for Jalen Hurts and he surely silenced many of his early season critics, but not this guy! You see, I’ve seen enough NFL games over 35 years to know that Numbers can lie! Hurts had three deep passes during the game that certainly added to his final line. The one thing that the stats will never reflect are the in game decisions and ability to “throw your receiver open”. Hurts is still struggling to consistently get the ball out quick to his wideouts in open space. The running game was steady, but it was clear that the Eagles offense was geared towards throwing the ball today. One clear omission though is that of Dallas Goedert; 4 targets, 2 catches for 25 yards (one first down). Again, being severely under utilized in a dynamic Philadelphia offense.
The Defense had what appeared to be their worse effort of the season. They looked engaged and then flippant. Manufacturing only 3 Sacks for -8 yards, 0 Interceptions and giving up tons of space over the middle. First year DC Sean Desai was certainly tested today and in many instances exposed. The choice of his coverage packages late in the game, led to Washington having chance after chance to capitalize on and eventually they would score multiple times.
Special Teams had a really good day. Covey was solid in the return game and Eagles MVP Jake Elliott was once again the toast of the town.
Looking ahead, the Eagles 4-0, travel West to take on Sean McVey, Matt Stafford, early season ROY front-runner Paku Nacua and the LA Rams 2-2. The Rams will be coming off an overtime victory of their own 29-23; where they defeated the Indianapolis Colts on a Stafford to Paku TD.