The Eagles put their fans through a whirlwind on Sunday, but they pulled out a tight 20-16 win over the Washington Football Team for their ninth win of the season to stay in a great position in the race for a Wild Card spot.
For the Eagles to make it into the postseason Sunday, they need the fallowing:
A Minnesota Vikings loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.
A San Francisco 49ers win over the Houston Texans or a New Orleans loss to the Carolina Panthers.
There were some things to like from the Eagles on Sunday in the nation’s capital, plenty of things to worry about, and a lot to debate from the win.
Here’s three takeaways from the game that guarantees the Eagles a winning season:
An ugly start, again
This is the fifth straight week where the Eagles have started off a game poorly, and they’re really making life difficult for themselves.
The first New York Giants game, they trailed 3-0 after the first quarter. Against the New York Jets they trailed 12-7. The first Washington game 10-0. The second Giants game was scoreless. And this time they trailed 10-0.
The last time the Eagles played a solid first quarter on both sides of the ball was against the New Orleans Saints, and that was six games ago.
In their last five games they’ve been outscored 35-7 in the first quarter, only to bounce back and outscored their opponents 114-39 the rest of the game. Think about that. It’s easy to blame the coaches for not getting guys ready, but just as much blame goes to these players, who need to be accountable as well. They have to be better out the gate.
Sneaky good day for Hurts
Jalen Hurts didn’t put up any crazy numbers on Sunday, but if you watched every single throw it was clear that he played a sharp game.
Hurts put a lot of balls in exactly the right spots, was more on time than he’s been in recent weeks with his decisions and looked extremely in control of the offense all game long.
Even as the offense sputtered in the first quarter, the failures weren’t Hurts’ fault. Questionable play-calling and an over-reliance on Jordan Howard, who was clearly not fully healthy Sunday, cost the Eagles their first drive of the game despite Hurts going 2-for-2 for 35 yards and running for 13 more on his own.
And as has been the case frequently over the past few weeks, Hurts has shown serious growth in keeping his eyes down the field as he extends plays with his legs.
The play where Hurts ruled out to his right in pressure and threw a 26 yard dime to Greg Ward was just fantastic. Combining the escapability that makes him so slippery in the pocket with a newfound patience, rather than just pulling the ball down and running for a few yards, is going to be so valuable if he can make plays like this one with consistency.
Elsewhere Hurts was dynamic on the ground once again, even though he seemed more 90% healthy than 100%. He was healthy enough to plant his ankles, and he rattled off a 22-yard run early on that forced Washington’s defense to constantly worry about his wheels the rest of the day.
It was no crazy showing, but Sunday was a great outing for Hurts.
Defense stinks, then turns it around
As bad as the defense was in the first half, and it was really horrible, they really got their act together in the second half.
First half, Washington netted 231 yards and scored 16 points. Second half, 81 yards and didn’t score a point.
The difference was pressure. The second half of this game was really the first time in a long time the Eagles generated consistent pressure from their defensive front.
Taylor Heinicke had his way in the first half, completing 14-of-17 passes for 170 yards, but in the second half he was 13-of-19 but for only 77 yards and was sacked twice. This d-line has underachieved all year, but when the Eagles needed them the most they came up huge.