Before we jump immediately into “doom and gloom” territory, as we are wont to do around these parts, let’s put this thing into perspective.
All credit to Washington, who came in with a gameplan to pull off the upset, which they then executed to near perfection. When all was said and done, they deserved to win this game, and the Eagles deserved to lose.
Despite a lousy loss, it’s not time for the Philadelphia Eagles (and their fans) to go overboard, at least not yet.
The Eagles shot themselves in the foot over and over in this one. They took too many penalties. They deviated too early from the run game when it wasn’t working (it felt like Andy Reid was in charge again), which led to the extremely lopsided time of possession numbers that wore their defense down. And said defense couldn’t get off the field, allowing Washington to convert numerous third downs, prolong drives and creep into field goal range just enough to make them pay.
And yet, this was a close game that the Eagles were still in until the end. Ultimately, the most costly aspect of the night were the turnovers.
Jalen Hurts’ lone interception wasn’t awful, as it essentially functioned as a punt. But it was a rare case of A.J. Brown being outmuscled, and it wasn’t the only time on the night where he just didn’t look right. Let’s hope that he’s ok because losing his services would be far more costly than the game result.
As for the other Eagles’ turnovers, they were the true killers.
Dallas Goedert’s fumble after an egregious blown facemask penalty is the kind of thing that gets a league to change its rules. Nobody wants 5-hour games slowed down by official reviews, but it’s abjectly awful that they can look at a play like that to make sure that a.) the ball was out before the ball carrier’s knee hit the ground and b.) the defender was touched after recovering the ball and was down before attempting the runback, all while “the rules” say that they have to ignore the video evidence of a player’s hand pulling Goedert down by his facemask as he wrenches his neck in different directions.
Failure all around.
Quez Watkins’ fumble wasn’t a controversial one, but it was likely the most important play of the game, a momentum-shattering mistake that signaled to anyone with a brain that this wasn’t going to be the Eagles’ night. No furious comeback would occur. Throw in Brandon Graham’s technically-by-the-book-but-extremely-chintzy “roughing the passer” call that stuck a fork in the Eagles, and this was about as aggravating as a loss could possibly get. The only thing worse would have been if it was Carson Wentz begging for the flag and then gesticulating wildly after he got it instead of the milquetoast Taylor Heinicke.
Hey, at least the Eagles’ performance probably kept Wentz on the bench when he returns from his injury, so at least we have that.
So, blame the refs some for this result, but the Eagles certainly put themselves in a position to lose thanks to an inefficient offense and the unceremonious return of Jonathan Gannon‘s “keep bending until you lose” defensive unit. The Eagles finally lost the turnover battle, and they basically couldn’t do anything right all game.
And they still lost by one possession.
Yes, I know the Commanders’ last-second TD bumped the final score to 32-21, but that didn’t matter unless you had some very weird bet riding on it. As such, the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans can at least take heart. The team couldn’t get out of its own way, didn’t get any calls, got dummied by their opponents, and they still almost pulled this out.
Now, the true test will be how the Eagles respond in their next game, on a quick turnaround at Indianapolis this Sunday. Will it be more of the same, the beginning of a skid? Or can they get back to the kind of winning football we’ve seen for two months? Following the trip to Indy, there are several other tough games to play, including matches with Tennessee and a pair with the surprising Giants. It will not be a cakewalk.
Perhaps this was the wake-up call the Eagles needed. They weren’t going to go 17-0. But they have the talent to win just about any game if they execute and avoid mistakes. Let this loss be a cautionary tale and not the start of a trend. Football season just got real. Game on.