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Eagles Dodge Disaster, Defeat Commanders in Overtime to Stay Unbeaten

Oct. 3, 2023

Morgan Killian-Moseley

PHILADELPHIA- The Eagles' Week 4 matchup had "trap game" written all over it. And many times over the course of the action, it looked as though the Birds would get caught.

But the Eagles defense stepped up in overtime, and kicker Jake Elliott delivered in the clutch yet again to lift Philadelphia to a 34-31 win over the NFC East rival Washington Commanders.

Washington struck first with a 7-minute+ drive culminated by a Curtis Samuel jet sweep into the end zone from one yard out. 

Philadelphia would respond with a 6-minute plus drive of their own which would culminate in a 5-yard touchdown run by D'Andre Swift to tie the score at 7-7.

The Commanders were quick to take back the lead, but also got a lucky break to do so. On a 2nd-&-goal from the 1-yard line nearly two minutes into the 2nd quarter, Brian Robinson looked to punch it in, but was stripped by Eagles linebacker Nicholas Morrow. Unfortunately for the Birds, Commanders receiver Terry McLaurin was able to fall on it in the end zone. Outside of five minutes left in a half, a fumble can be advanced by the fumbling team; so the touchdown counted and Washington had a 14-7 lead.

The Eagles' next drive saw them with a 4th-&-1 from their own 49. Of course, the Birds went to the newly rechristened "Brotherly Shove" to pick up the first down, and quarterback Jalen Hurts looked to have done so. But right guard Landon Dickerson was called for an offensive offsides penalty, lining up with his head in front of the waistline of center Jason Kelce, negating the play and forcing the Eagles to punt.

The teams would trade 3-&-out's on their next possessions, then Washington responded by taking the ball into the red zone, bringing up a 3rd-&-8 at the Philadelphia 19 at the two-minute warning. Quarterback Sam Howell was unable to connect with Samuel, but Washington was bailed out by a pass interference penalty on Eagles defensive back James Bradberry to set up 1st-&-goal. But the Eagles defense would keep Washington out of the end zone, forcing the Commanders to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Joey Slye to make it 17-7.

Philadelphia had themselves a chance to get it down to a one-score deficit at the half, and they did so via a 41-yarder from Elliott. 

The Eagles got the ball to start the 2nd half, trailing 17-10. They drove into Washington territory yet again, but Commanders defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne knocked down a 3rd down pass at the line, forcing the Birds to settle for another field goal from Elliott, this one from 47 yards out, and keeping the Burgundy and Gold in the lead 17-13.

After the Eagles defense forced a punt on Washington's next drive, Hurts would connect on a deep ball to A.J. Brown, who would use his slick moves and the help of his blockers to finish off the 59-yard touchdown play and put the Eagles in front. A roughing the passer penalty was called on Washington's Montez Sweat as well, giving the Birds a chance to go for two from the one. Running back Kenneth Gainwell would surge up the middle for the two to give Philadelphia a 21-17 lead.

Again the Philly defense would force the Commanders to punt, and their offense would take the ball into the red zone. But on a 3rd-&-11 from the Washington 16, Gainwell was stripped by Commander DB Benjamin St-Juste. Fortunately for the Birds right tackle Lane Johnson fell on it, allowing Elliott to hit a 36-yarder to give them a seven-point lead 43 seconds into the 4th quarter.

But Washington wasn't done. On a 3rd-&-4 near midfield, Eagles safety Terrell Edmunds was called for a late hit, extending the drive. Two minutes later, Robinson would power his way to paydirt from 15 yards out for the score; and Slye's extra point would knot things at 24-24.

Again both teams would trade defensive stops, and Philadelphia took the ball with just over three minutes left, looking to put the game away. Hurts worked his magic, moving the chains with precision medium pass plays, until finally finding Brown again from 28 yards out to put the Birds back on top. The extra point made it 31-24.

But after making that catch, Brown got in the face of the man who had been covering him, Emmanuel Forbes, who had been trading verbal jabs with Brown the entire game. Brown was hit with a taunting penalty, which Washington chose to have enforced on the kickoff.

Taking advantage of decent field position resulting from the penalty and a good return by Antonio Gibson, Howell worked some two-minute drill magic of his own. And with two seconds left, Howell found Jahan Dotson from 10 yards out for the score.

Commanders head coach Ron Rivera had been given the nickname "Riverboat Ron" during his time as Carolina Panthers head coach due to his willingness to take risks. But this time Rivera chose to play it safe, sending in Slye to kick the extra point and send the game to overtime.

The Commanders won the coin toss and took the ball to start the extra ten minutes. 

Robinson was stopped at the line of scrimmage on 1st down, but Howell connected with Dotson for five yards on 2nd. With a 3rd-&-5 from their own 30, Howell went deep looking for McLaurin. Scary Terry was able to get his right foot down in bounds on the catch, but it was ruled that his left foot came down out of bounds. Upon review, McLaurin's foot had mostly come down on the forearm of Eagles safety Reed Blankenship, which kept the left toe from landing in bounds. The ruling on the field stood, and the Commanders had to punt.

Tress Way's punt was not a good one, downed at the Philadelphia 41. The Eagles took over knowing that a field goal would win the game.

Once again, 4th-&-1 came along near midfield, and once again it was time for the Brotherly Shove. This time, however, everyone was lined up properly; and Hurts moved the chains.

Swift would help the Eagles get into field goal range with an 11-yard catch to move the chains again, and he added a 4-yard run on the next play to bring up a 2nd-&-6 from the Washington 34. 

Hurts would go deep, but there may have been a bit of miscommunication on routes because there were no receivers in the area.

But whether it was a mixup or not didn't matter to the officials. Hurts was ruled to have thrown the ball away while in the pocket, resulting in an intentional grounding penalty, turning 3rd-&-6 into 3rd-&-17.

Now the Birds were on the edge of Elliott's range. A field goal attempt from the spot at the time would have been from 63 yards away. And while Elliott had hit from 62 yards out in his career, including in the Eagles' Thursday Night battle Week 2 against the Vikings, the offense wanted to make things a little bit easier for him this time around. Hurts found Devonta Smith on a quick slant for 9 yards, making Elliott's mark 54 yards out. Elliott remained reliable, and the Eagles remained undefeated.

Overall, Hurts went 25-of-37 passing for 319 yards and two touchdowns, both to Brown. He added 34 rushing yards on nine carries.

Swift had 14 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown while making four catches for 23 yards. Gainwell had four carries for 14 yards and two catches for seven yards, plus the two-point conversion.

Brown made nine catches for 175 yards and the two 2nd half touchdowns. Smith gained 78 yards on his seven receptions. Dallas Goedert added two grabs for 25 yards, while Olamide Zaccheaus had a key 3rd down catch for 11 yards in the Eagles' final drive of regulation.

For the Commanders, Howell put forth a strong effort in defeat, completing 29 of his 41 passes for 290 yards and the game-tying touchdown to Dotson to close regulation. He added 40 ground yards on six carries, most of which picked up first downs that saved eventual scoring drives.

Robinson had 14 carries for 45 yards and  the mid-4th quarter touchdown, plus two catches for six yards. Gibson had 19 yards on his six rushes, while also adding a catch for seven yards and the 29-yard kickoff return, giving him 55 all-purpose yards on the day.

McLaurin led all Washington receivers with eight catches for 86 yards. Samuel had seven receptions for 51 yards while adding the opening 1-yard touchdown on his only carry. Dotson had 27 yards on his four grabs, including the touchdown that sent the game to OT. Tight end Lane Thomas had three catches for 41 yards plus a two-yard carry. Dyami Brown had two catches for 51 yards, while Byron Pringle and Jesse Bates each had a reception as well; Pringle's for 15 yards, Bates's for six.

The time of possession battle was nearly even, with Washington having the advantage 35:07-30:55. Another somewhat surprising fact that contributed to the game being so close: neither team turned the ball over.

Howell was sacked by the Eagles defense five times, thrice by Morrow. Josh Sweat had a sack as well, as did Haason Reddick; his first sack of the season after having over 20 last year.

The Commanders got to Hurts three times. All-Pro defensive end Chase Young registered a sack, as did defensive end Jonathan Allen and defensive back Kameron Curl.

The 4-0 Eagles look to continue their winning ways against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium late Sunday afternoon. The 2-2 Rams are coming off an overtime win themselves, as they nabbed a 29-23 victory against the Indianapolis Colts at LucasOil Stadium.

The 2-2 Commanders don't have much time to work on things as they will play on Thursday Night Football. But they can take solace in the fact that they'll be returning to FedEx Field and taking on the winless Chicago Bears, who let a 21-point lead slip away and fell to the Denver Broncos at home 31-28.

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