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Washington cut the Eagles' lead to 20-17 with 11:44 left in the game. How do the Eagles answer? With an 8-play, 80-yard drive that ended with this dart from quarterback Jalen Hurts to wide receiver Greg Ward for the final points. Read more about Ward's career in December below.
Jalen Hurts doesn't let early adversity affect his game
Sixteen days had passed by for Eagles players without seeing real game action, but it had been even longer for quarterback Jalen Hurts. To be exact, it had been 23 days. Hurts was out in Week 13 versus the New York Jets due to an ankle injury, then it was the bye week and then the game against Washington was pushed back from Sunday to Tuesday. Hurts shook off some early rust and bounced back in the Eagles' 27-17 win over Washington at Lincoln Financial Field.
Hurts finished 20-of-26 for 296 yards – his most since a career-high 387 outing on October 3 vs. Kansas City – with three total touchdowns, two rushing. Hurts surpassed Michael Vick for the most rushing touchdowns (10) by an Eagles quarterback in a single season.
"I think it was very fun being back out on the field. We got the win which we needed, our first division win," said Hurts. "I know that the job isn't done. We know what we want to accomplish."
With the way Hurts came back after an interception and then a fumble in the first quarter, the job he wants to accomplish is still on the table. Following the second turnover, which Washington capitalized on to take a 10-0 lead, Head Coach Nick Sirianni shared some words with Hurts on the sideline.
"I wasn't gonna back down on him. I thought he was careless with the football and I let him know that," Sirianni said. "We're just honest with each other and we're just talking through it. Sometimes I gotta deliver the message a little bit differently, but what a great job by him having that dawg mentality."
"I've been telling him all year, I'm a coach's kid. All the coach's kids out there, they know what that means. In high school, I lived with the guy that would chew me out, so I made it clear to coach you can get on me a little bit," said Hurts.
Those words from Sirianni were all Hurts needed to get back on track.
"I think Jalen's able to take tough coaching and obviously he responded great because he played a phenomenal game," Sirianni said. "One of the best football games I've seen him play, so what an unbelievable job by him. You know you have a good relationship with your quarterback when you're able to have those tough conversations like that. We moved on and he played a great game."
"After the fumble, he came up to me and said what he had to say. And then later on in the game he comes up to me and says, 'I'm gonna have to start coaching you like your dad coached you,'" Hurts added. "That was a funny moment."
Hurts was proud of how his team played with the different obstacles they have had to overcome.
"You just have to have that mentality of not being denied. Not being denied. I've said all year, everybody's seen all year, the youth with this football team. The youth we've had and the different things we've had to overcome and had experience with different nuances of having new everything," he said. "But now in December, we can't be denied what we want. With all the adversity we had this week and with all the adversity we had today early in the game, we didn't let it affect us and I'm so happy about that."
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro lists 4 other notable moments from the win
1. The running game is just awesome. For the seventh straight game, the Eagles went over the 175-yard mark and they eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark for a league-best fifth time this season. It's been a remarkable performance from the offense, and given that the Eagles were without left guard Landon Dickerson, who was on Sunday placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and replaced in the starting lineup by Sua Opeta, it was an even more impressive performance.
"It's so much fun," said Sanders, who had his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game. "The offensive line, they're creating huge holes for us and they're making our job easy. It doesn't matter who carries the ball. Honestly, I don't think any of us care who gets the ball, as long as we're winning games. We fell into a little hole tonight, but nobody panicked or got upset. We knew that once we got it rolling, we would be OK."
Whether Sanders has been the ballcarrier or Howard with his north-south style or Boston Scott or Kenny Gainwell, the Eagles are blowing away the rest of the league with their rushing totals. They know that, with three games remaining in the regular season, they have confidence running the football against any defense.
"No doubt," Sanders said. "Those guys up front are so physical and they're doing a great job. We're just following them."
2. Goedert had the freaky drop that became a touchdown and he wasn't able to handle another Hurts pass, but Goedert caught the other seven balls that went his way and just tormented the Washington secondary by running terrific routes, breaking tackles, and making big plays. The Eagles saw early what we're all seeing with Goedert – he is a nightmare matchup and his skill set is on par with any in the NFL at his position.
3. The defense settled in after the early 10-point deficit as Washington's offense played with a short field and at one point limited the WFT to 36 offensive yards on five possessions. Washington put together only one real scoring drive, moving 69 yards on seven plays in the fourth quarter. Fletcher Cox had 1.5 quarterback sacks, seeing some time on the edge and dominating there with four quarterback hits.
"It was big getting a division win. We knew going into this game we were 0-2 in the division, so we felt we kind of earned some respect," he said. "We put all the distractions to the side and after the slow start we got the win. It isn't how you start sometimes, it's how you finish and we finished. We responded after what I would say was a slow start."
As for moving around the defensive line, Cox was pleased.
"I wouldn't say it was new. We ran it before," Cox said. "Obviously it's different for me. I take advantage of every opportunity I get and we saw an opportunity. I had a little more room out there and took advantage. It was good for us."
4. The defense was going up against a newly signed quarterback in Gilbert, with both Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen sidelined on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. It was a unique situation for both teams, as they had spent all week preparing for Heinicke to start, only to learn of the game being postponed and Heinicke's status being up in the air late on Tuesday afternoon.
The Eagles knew they had to limit Gibson, who had just 26 rushing yards and 39 receiving yards, and they did that. They knew they had to contain wide receiver Terry McLaurin and they did that – McLaurin had a 46-yard reception but only one catch for 5 yards after that. Philadelphia attacked the line of scrimmage and took over the momentum of the game after the early 10 points allowed.
Make sure to check out the entire column here.
Go inside the stat sheet
• The Eagles are the first NFL team to record 175+ rushing yards (238) in 7 consecutive games (franchise record) since the 1985 Chicago Bears (also 7). Philadelphia's 5 games with 200+ rushing yards this season are tied for the 3rd-most in team history, trailing only 1949 (8) and 1950 (6).
"It was a great experience for me because I personally take pride in the way that I run block," said guard Sua Opeta, who started at left guard with Landon Dickerson on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. It was the first start of the season for the former rookie free agent out of Weber State. Opeta is the sixth different player to start at either guard position for the Eagles this season. "For us to go in there and still be able to pick up where we've been going felt really good."
Filling in for Dickerson was one thing for Opeta, but he was up against former first-round pick Jonathan Allen, who is having a Pro Bowl-worthy season with a team-best 8.5 sacks.
"I knew it'd be a big test going into it. He's a hell of a player. I felt his strength today. He likes to hit that chop hump move which is kind of like the bull rush with the shoulder. He's a great player. It was fun going against him."
• Greg Ward sealed the 27-17 victory with a game-clinching, 19-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter. The score marked his 5th-career TD in the month of December, which includes 3 TDs over a 3-game stretch during the final month of the 2020 season as well as a game-winning TD at Washington to keep the team's playoffs hopes alive during the 2019 campaign. Overall, Ward has totaled 35 receptions for 361 yards (10.3 avg.) and 5 TDs in 11 career December contests.
"Grit," Ward said of the key to winning these late-season games. "You just have to continue to work, you have to put in extra work and the guys that pay attention to the details and are pinpoint accurate on everything around this time, those are the guys that are going to win ballgames."
• Dallas Goedert's 135 yards are the most by an Eagles tight end since Zach Ertz in 2018 vs. Dallas (145). He is the first Eagle with 100+ yards in back-to-back games since Ertz in that same season. For the season, Goedert has registered a career-high 731 receiving yards.
• Jake Elliott has converted 41 consecutive kicks (FGs and PATs) dating back to Week 8. Overall, he has made 17 straight FGs, which is tied for the 4th-longest streak in Eagles history, trailing only Alex Henery (22 in 2012), himself (20 in 2018-19), and Caleb Sturgis (18 in 2016). In addition, Elliott became just the third player in franchise history to reach 500 career points (503), joining David Akers (1,323, 1999-2010) and Bobby Walston (881, 1951-62). Doing so in 77 games, Elliott became the fastest player in Eagles history to accumulate 500 career points.
Back at home, check out the best photos from Week 15 against the Washington Football Team.
• Jalen Reagor finished with a career-high 57 yards on 3 receptions (19.0 avg.). He got open for a 17-yard gain in the second quarter to help spark the Eagles' first touchdown drive. Then, Reagor's final catch converted a key third-and-6 in the fourth quarter after Washington cut the lead to 7. On the very next play, Jalen Hurts connected with Greg Ward for the game-sealing touchdown.
"I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do," Reagor said. My motto before the game – I was telling everybody – God chose them. We're here for a reason."
The one hustle play from Reagor that did not end up in the stat sheet was after Hurts was stripped of the ball in the first quarter, Reagor sprinted down the sideline to tackle safety Landon Collins and nearly got the ball out in the process.
– Numbers compiled by John Gonoude and the Eagles media relations department