February 6, 2023

3 takeaways after Eagles bounce back from ugly start in big win over Washington

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

It didn’t start out pretty, at all.

But it sure did end pretty.

In front of a sold out crowd at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia, the Eagles took care business Tuesday in a huge 27-17 victory over the Washington Football Team.

The Eagles are now 7-7 and keep their postseason hopes alive.

Here’s three takeaways:

Ugly, ugly start

I think a lot of fans in midnight green were thinking “Joe Webb” to themselves when Washington went up 10-0 late in the first quarter.A game the Eagles had to have and should have been dominating was slipping away against a depleted Washington Football Team with a quarterback who was on the New England Patriots’ practice squad a week ago. It wasn’t ideal, but you have to like how the Eagles responded.

After falling behind 10-0, the Eagles scored 20 straight points to take command and keep their playoff hopes alive.

This was not a work of art by any means, but the Eagles were 4-40 in their last 44 games going back 28 years when they trailed by 10 or more points after the first quarter. That’s not a good place to be. The Eagles didn’t need a work of art, they needed a win, and they got it.

That said, the Eagles had chances to put this game away, and their two early turnovers were just terrible — Dallas Goedert’s drop that turned into an interception that eventually turned into a Washington touchdown and Jalen Hurts’ fumble that turned into a Washington field goal.

The interception was a lucky play — bouncing off Goedert’s foot and right to Landon Collins — but if he’s focused on securing the football and not running before he catches it, the play never happens.

And Hurts’ fumble never happens if he shows better pocket awareness with the Eagles in the red zone.

Both of them bounced back. Goedert had a career-high 135 yards and Hurts was sharp the rest of the way. But those are mistakes that can’t happen. Against a better team — and a team not missing half its roster — they cost you a win.

Took him a while, but Hurts dominated

It felt like it took Hurts most of the first quarter to feel comfortable, and he certainly didn’t look comfortable on those two early sacks, including the one he fumbled away. That’s not surprising after a 23-day layoff.

But once he settled in, Hurts did some good things.

Obviously, the INT wasn’t his fault — it was a perfect throw that Dallas Goedert dropped and kicked, I guess? After that, he delivered the ball really well.

He did not look particularly light on that ankle, and he didn’t run a lot, although he did rush for his ninth TD of the season.

One stat that jumped out at me Tuesday night was Hurts’ completion percentage. Hurts was 20-for-26 for 77%, just under his career-best of 77.1& in the opener at the Atlanta Falcons.

Hurts was clearly not 100% on that ankle, and he only ran eight times for 38 yards, so his focus was on throwing the ball, and he really put it where he wanted for most of the game.

Of the six incompletions, at least three were drops.

And Hurts did manage to run for two more touchdowns, which gives him 10 this year, and that’s incredible. He’s only the ninth QB in NFL history with 10 rushing TDs in a season and only the fifth Eagle ever with 10 rushing TDs.

But overall it was a solid performance for Hurts in his first game after the disaster at the New York Giants.

I loved the offensive balance Tuesday night. The Eagles had 238 rushing yards and 281 net passing yards, and this was only the eighth time in franchise history that the Eagles had 235 yards both rushing and passing in the same game. And two of those were in the 1940s.

This is a big-time offense right now. We saw more receivers get involved, the running game again was unstoppable, Hurts was smart, efficient, and productive, the o-line was fantastic considering the Eagles were playing with two backup guards, one making his third NFL start.

The Eagles piled up 519 yards and they could have had 600 if they wanted.

This is a top-10 offense right now under a first-year coach and play caller who’s growing each week. The turnovers were bad, but the Eagles have enough firepower to overcome them.

This is a fun offense to watch right now.

Running with a purpose

The Eagles’ running attack continues to defy belief. Without their best run blocker in Landon Dickerson, with their fourth starting right guard, with Hurts hobbled and facing the NFL’s 4th-ranked run defense, the Eagles rushed for 238 yards, extending their remarkable streak to seven straight games with at least 175 yards.

Only eight other teams in NFL history have run for 175 yards or more in seven straight games — only four since 1950, none since the 1985 Bears.

A lot of credit definitely has to go the to backup guards Sua Opeta and Nate Herbig but Jordan Mailata, Jason Kelce, and Lane Johnson are playing at such a high level now, Miles Sanders looks phenomenal, and Sirianni is so committed to the running attack regardless of what personnel he has available that it’s just impossible to stop them.

Speaking of which, I love the way Sanders is running right now. I feel like since he came back from that three-game layoff, he’s been a more determined runner, and he’s grinding out some tough yards.

In these four games, he’s 67-for-409, second-most rushing yards in the NFL during that span (behind Jonathan Taylor). 

Sanders ran for a career-high 131 Tuesday night coming off his 120-yard game against the New York Jets, and he’s the first Eagle since LeSean McCoy in 2014 with back-to-back 100-yard games.

But wait, let’s talk about Kelce for a minute.

Did you see him on Sanders’ 37-yard run in the third quarter? If you didn’t, watch this:

The dude is 34, second-oldest center in football, and he’s dealing with knee, ankle, and foot injuries, and here we are in week 15 and he’s out there sprinting 35 yards down the field ahead of Sanders just looking for someone to lay out.

Centers don’t do that. Centers can’t do that. Legend. Hall of famer.

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