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Spadaro: 16 takeaways from a TOUGH road win over the Commanders

A.J. Brown helped give the Eagles plenty to celebrate Sunday.
A.J. Brown helped give the Eagles plenty to celebrate Sunday.

The Eagles knew this would be a “heavyweight battle,” as wide receiver A.J. Brown said in the days leading up to Sunday's 1 PM game at FedEx Field. It's an NFC East game and Washington is always tough, and, well, that's just the way it is.

And that's just the way it was on Sunday. The Eagles, as they did in the Week 4 game against the Commanders, erased a double-digit deficit, relied heavily on the right arm of quarterback Jalen Hurts, and won a HUGE road game, 38-31, to move to 7-1 on the season.

Here are some observations from a tough, tough division victory in front of an Eagles-heavy crowd – the players acknowledged that by urging them to give a standing ovation in the waning seconds. Thanks to the fans for making these road games so Eagles-centric with the noise and the energy. ...

1. Let's start with Hurts because he was just terrific. The Eagles didn't have much of a running game going, so they relied on Hurts and he delivered four touchdown passes, completing 29 of 38 passes for 318 yards. Hurts is playing through some bumps and bruises – he's wearing a knee brace on his left knee – and he is just tough, calm, resilient, and on point with his throws. Washington put some pressure on him, but no matter. Hurts spread the ball around, was patient, and knocked it out of the park, averaging 8.4 yards per pass attempt. It was one of the best pure passing games of his four seasons as an Eagle as he compiled a 135.7 passer rating.

2. Making history, A.J. Brown. The star wide receiver bullied his way to his sixth straight game with at least 125 receiving yards, catching 8 passes for 130 yards and two big touchdowns on 8 targets. There has never been a run like this, obviously, and Brown shows no signs of slowing down. Not much more to say, really. Brown is being bracketed, doubled, held, everything, and it just doesn't matter.

3. Loved the late-game wrinkle on the Brotherly Shove, which shockingly failed on the first drive of the second half (the Eagles lost two fumbles inside the 5-yard line), when tight end Dallas Goedert and running back D'Andre Swift lined up behind Hurts on a third-and-1 play and Hurts handed off to Swift, lined up on the right side. Swift ran left as the play essentially became a sweep left and he rolled right into the end zone for 7 yards and a touchdown as the Eagles took a two-touchdown lead. This will help the Eagles in the future as defenses know there are variations off the Brotherly Shove.

4. Welcome to the Eagles, Julio Jones! He's playing a role and the veteran is accepting it and could very well be a weapon in the red zone. He lined up in the left slot and found an opening two plays after a Reed Blankenship interception plus a Washington penalty set the Eagles up at the Washington 7-yard line, and Hurts fired a fastball between defenders and Jones made the catch for his second Eagles reception and his first touchdown. Using that 6-3, 220-pound body in traffic will pay dividends, as it did on Sunday.

5. The defense gave up way too much to quarterback Sam Howell, who was 39-of-52 for 397 yards and four touchdowns, but let's look at some late-game possessions that really mattered. On three straight possessions in the fourth quarter, the defense did its job – first when Blankenship picked off Howell and returned the interception to the 7-yard line, then holding on downs with Washington trailing by a touchdown, and then coming up with a huge Haason Reddick sack on fourth down that gave the Eagles possession at the Washington 16-yard line. Washington had success attacking the middle of the field with a quick passing game and Howell got rid of the football exceptionally quickly, so there were some possessions Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai will look at critically. But the defense made those stops and that changed the tide of the game.

6. I'm not sure there is anyone I'd rather have an onside kick bounced toward more than wide receiver DeVonta Smith. He caught the late-game onside kick and the Eagles were able to kneel down and run out the clock.

7. Speaking of Smith, great to see him eat as well. He had 7 receptions for 99 yards and a touchown on 7 targets, and his 38-yard touchdown catch and trot running out of the slot tied the game at 24 midway through the fourth quarter, part of a wild final stanza.

8. The Eagles outscored Washington 21-14 in the fourth quarter. That was one of the craziest fourth quarters in a long, long time. Not in any rush to see Washington again ...

9. Reddick just makes big plays. I mean, the Eagles didn't put much pressure on Howell, who had been sacked an NFL-high 40 times prior to Sunday. Then Reddick makes a great outside pass-rush move to get to Howell on a fourth-and-5 play at the Washington 25-yard line and give the Eagles possession on the Washington 16-yard line. They scored on the Swift run out of the Brotherly Shove formation a few plays later.

10. The Eagles had two giveaways in the red zone – a Kenneth Gainwell fumble in the first quarter and the fumble from Hurts on the Brotherly Shove play in the third quarter – but otherwise scored three touchdowns on their other three red zone possessions.

It's an NFC East rematch between the Eagles and the Washington Commanders. The Eagles look to sweep the season series and improve to 7-1 on the season. Washington hopes to avenge the OT loss at Lincoln Financial Field earlier this month.

11. Philadelphia's offense, one of the best in the NFL on third down, continued to crush it there, converting 8 of 13 third downs. Really impressive. And the Eagles were successful on their only fourth-down opportunity.

12. Punter Braden Mann is coming on in a pretty significant way. He had a 57-yard punt in the win over Miami – his only punt of the game – and then averaged 58.5 yards on his two punts on Sunday. One was a touchback, yes, but he gave the coverage team a chance with a punt that bounced inside the 10-yard line. He is a young guy with a lot of promise.

13. Speaking of special teams, Britain Covey had a 25-yard punt return that will be largely forgotten by some, but it gave the Eagles possession at their 49-yard line late in the second quarter and the Eagles turned that big return into a touchdown.

14. Kevin Byard, acquired last Monday, started at safety and played the entire game. He recorded seven total tackles and will only grow from here.

15. They weren't perfect like they were a week earlier, but the Eagles were penalized only three times for a loss of 17 yards. They were a little sloppy early, but cleaned things up later in the game and, hey, coming home from FedEx Field with a win and a 7-1 record, that's a great day.

16. Oh, and it's Dallas week. Should be a great one on Sunday against the 6-2 Cowboys!

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