Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles Beat Washington to Help Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

Garrett Gilbert proved not to be the second coming of Joe Webb in the Eagles' big win over Washington on Tuesday. Reuben Frank has more observations from the peculiar contest.

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In Roob's Observations, exorcising the Ghost of Joe Webb in win over Washington originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

They weren't supposed to be down 10-0 after 12 minutes. It was not supposed to be a one-possession game late in the third quarter. Garrett Gilbert was not supposed to hang in there like this.

Who cares. In the end, the Eagles outlasted a scrappy, out-manned Washington Football Team 27-17 at the Linc Tuesday night and found their way to 7-7 after a 2-5 start.

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It wasn’t pretty, but who cares.

1. I think everybody in the stadium was thinking “Joe Webb” to themselves when Washington went up 10-0 late in the first quarter. I know I was. How could you not think about the emergency Vikings QB who orchestrated an absurd and damaging upset over the 14-point-favorite Eagles 11 years ago on another Tuesday night at the Linc. A game the Eagles had to have and should have been dominating was unfathomably slipping away against a depleted Washington Football Team with a quarterback who was on the Patriots’ practice squad a week ago. It wasn’t ideal, but you have to like how the Eagles responded. Nick Sirianni talks all the time about how things rarely go the way you expect and a huge part of becoming a winner is dealing with adversity, not panicking when things aren’t going well and sticking to what you believe in. After falling behind 10-0, the Eagles scored 20 straight points to take command and kept alive their playoff hopes. This was not a work of art, 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.

2. 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 flukey 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.

3. I felt like it took Jalen 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? After that, he delivered the ball really well. He did not look particularly nimble on that ankle, and he didn’t run a lot, although he did rush for his 9th TD of the season. But overall it was a solid performance for Hurts in his first game after the Giants disaster.

4. 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. Get this: 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. Definitely give a lot of credit to backup guards Sua Opeta and Nate Herbig but Jordan Mailata, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson are playing at such a high level now, 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.

5. Speaking of which, I love the way Miles Sanders is running right now. I feel like since he came back from that three-game layoff, he’s been a more decisive runner, and he’s grinding out some tough yards. In these four games, he’s 67-for-409, 2nd-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 Jets, and he’s the first Eagle since Shady in 2014 with back-to-back 100-yard games.

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6. It wasn’t a masterpiece by the defense. They once again didn’t force any turnovers, they recorded only two sacks against a sitting-duck quarterback who was making his second career start in his eighth NFL season, and they were unable to pick up any of the three fumbles that were rolling around the field. This isn’t a bad defense. They’ve held three straight opponents (and eight overall) to 18 or fewer points, and they’re up to 14th in the league in points allowed. They’re very tough to run against. But can you just imagine if they could make some big plays?

7. Let’s talk about Jason Kelce for a minute. Did you see him on Sanders’ 37-yard run in the third quarter? The dude is 34, second-oldest center in football, and he’s dealing with knee, ankle and foot injuries, and we’re here 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.

8. 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 - going back to 1933 – 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.

9. Was great to see Jalen Reagor make some plays. Reagor had three catches for a career-high 57 yards, including a season-long 34-yarder one play before Hurts’ 4th-quarter TD pass to Greg Ward. Reagor has been legit awful this year, but he’s never stopped working and his effort never waned. Maybe having a good game will help his confidence and get him going. Let’s be honest, the Eagles need him down the stretch.

10. One stat that jumped out at me Tuesday night was Hurts’ completion percentage. Hurts was 20-for-26 for 77 percent, just under his career-best of 77.1 percent in the opener vs. the Falcons. Hurts was clearly not 100 percent 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. This was his first game since the Giants, and Hurts did plenty to flush that one, as he likes to say.

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