This one wasn't easy, but then again, things are rarely easy against NFC East opponents. Philadelphia used a 54-yard field goal from Jake Elliott with 3 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in overtime to defeat the Washington Commanders 34-31 on Sunday on a picture-perfect afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.
It was far from perfect, however, on the field and no doubt the coaches will have a lot to say as they go through the self-scouting and correction part of the early week, but the victory was a demonstration of resilience and toughness from the Eagles on a short week. Philadelphia is now 4-0 after its first division game of the 2023 season.
The Eagles fell behind 17-7 in the second quarterback before clawing back and taking a lead, and Washington put together a 10-play, 64-yard drive to score a touchdown and kick the extra point on the final play of the fourth quarter to force overtime in a classic back-and-forth game between division rivals.
The bottom line? The Eagles won the game and move on to play in Los Angeles against the Rams (who improved to 2-2 with an overtime win of their own against the Colts) on Sunday. Here are 10 takeaways from Sunday's thrilling win in South Philadelphia …
1. Jake Elliott welcomed the moment. "I wanted it to come down to me," he said after booting the 54-yard field goal in overtime to win the game on Sunday. "I'm on the sidelines and I am thinking that. I welcome that moment and it just went perfectly." Elliott nailed all four of his field goal opportunities on the day and is now 13 of 14 on the field, including 4 of 5 from 50-plus yards. "It's not just me," he said. "Great snap (by Rick Lovato) and great hold (by Braden Mann) and I hit it the way I wanted to hit it. It's an awesome feeling."
2. Welcome to the big-play offense, once again. The kind of impact it makes was never more evident than midway through the third quarter when Jalen Hurts threw to wide receiver A.J. Brown on the left side – Brown lined up in the slot, stutter-stepped to an opening about 30 yards down the field, caught the pass from quarterback Jalen Hurts, then cut into the middle of the field following blocks from DeVonta Smith and Olamide Zaccheaus, and found the end zone to put the Eagles ahead, 19-17, their first lead of the game. The catch-and-run covered 59 yards and helped change the momentum of the game after a first half in which the Commanders led most of the time. And it was Brown's first touchdown of the season and part of a monster Sunday on which Brown caught 9 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns and looked great – wearing pink cleats with neon yellow laces – doing it.
3. The passing game produced six gains of 20-plus yards, a high for the season. The Eagles came out throwing the football and Hurts was on his game, completing 25 of 37 passes for 319 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also had nine carries for 34 yards and, the big number also, zero turnovers.
4. Philadelphia's offense answered a Washington touchdown drive that opened the game with a beauty of its own – 12 plays, 75 yards, 6:25 off the clock. Jalen Hurts came out throwing the football, completing all seven of his passes for 49 yards – Brown had two receptions for 31 yards, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert each caught one pass for 8 yards, and D'Andre Swift contributed 3 receptions for 12 yards. Swift also carried four times for 16 yards, so he had seven touches for 28 yards on the drive, including a 5-yard touchdown run over the left side through a huge hole thanks to the combination blocking of Jordan Mailata and Landon Dickerson. The Eagles converted two third downs and gained five first downs on the drive. Great stuff and needed after the Commanders took the opening kickoff and put together a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to take the lead.
5. The Eagles needed something at the end of the first half and Smith gave it to them with a leaping, high-point-the-ball catch in traffic that gained 37 yards and put Elliott in position to kick a 41-yard field goal to bring Philadelphia to within 17-10 after two quarters. We've seen a lot of great catches from Smith in the three seasons he's been here, and this grab was right up there with the best of them. He went up in traffic and got his hands on the ball, not entirely cleanly, and on the way down to the ground, gathered the football and managed to cup his hand underneath the ball to make the catch, a play that held up upon review. Outstanding, and important to narrow the gap to seven points and the momentum from that drive carried over to the second half, no doubt about it. The Eagles scored on their first three drives of the second half – a field goal, a touchdown, and a field goal – to lead 24-17 with 14:15 remaining in the fourth quarter.
6. Washington's first half offense: 192 total net yards, 14 first downs, and 17:17 of offensive possession time. The Eagles also committed four defensive penalties, two of which kept Washington drives alive. The Commanders then gained 18 yards with two first downs in the third quarter as the Eagles erased the seven-point halftime lead and led by 21-17 after three.
7. Great to see edge rusher Haason Reddick, free from the cast that protected his surgically repaired thumb for three games, buzzing around Howell for most of the game. Reddick registered his first quarterback sack of the season, had a tackle for loss, and a key quarterback hurry.
8. The Eagles picked up five sacks in all, led by linebacker Nicholas Morrow, who had three sacks of Sam Howell. Morrow had four career sacks before Sunday's game and he was a force for the defense against Washington. Check the numbers: 3 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries, 1 forced fumble, and 11 total tackles (10 solos). Zach Cunningham was also impressive with 13 total tackles.
9. Howell hurt the Eagles with some scrambles – he ran for 40 yards – but otherwise the Eagles did another outstanding job against the run. Washington gained 107 rushing yards on 28 attempts.
10. Underrated, but valuable, performance from right guard Sua Opeta, who stepped in when Cam Jurgens (foot) went out of the game. The Eagles knew they had a battle on their hands against Washington's defensive front four and Opeta did a fine job using his strength and leverage inside. The Eagles rolled up 415 total net yards and 23 first downs and, of course, scored 34 points.
It's Commanders vs. Eagles. The Eagles look to defend their perfect record and improve to 4-0. The Commanders are in search of a bounce-back effort after suffering their first loss last week against Buffalo. Washington came away with the win the last time these two teams met. What's on the horizon for this Sunday?