Already feeling disgusted at himself for holding the ball too long, which resulted in yet another turnover, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts walked off the field late in the first quarter. As he neared the sideline, coach Nick Sirianni traced him step by step and barked into the quarterback’s ear.
Following an unlucky interception that bounced off tight end Dallas Goedert’s heel and into into the hands of Landon Collins during the opening drive, Hurts was strip-sacked by Washington defensive end Montez Sweat on the ensuing possession.
Coming off the bye week and a postponement, the Eagles had 16 days to prepare for Washington ... and this was the initial result.
A bit of bad luck sprinkled with indecision — suddenly, Hurts was the culprit of back-to-back turnovers.
“You never want to start like that; it was really rusty,” Sirianni said. “I thought Jalen was careless with the football and I let him know that. Sometimes I have to deliver the message a little different.”
Said Hurts: “I’ve been telling him all year. I’m a coach’s kid. I’ve heard everything. He can get on me a little bit. After the fumble, he came up to me and said what he had to say. By the end of the game, he joked with me that he should coach me like how my dad did.”
Washington turned those pair of Eagles turnovers into 10 points, and it jumped to an early lead. In just his second NFL start, Washington’s emergency starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert offered a sense of unfamiliarity and surprise.
With the Eagles trailing 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, displeasure reigned from across the stands at Lincoln Financial Field.
“You can hear the boos from the crowd,” Goedert said. “But we were all telling ourselves, ‘this game is far from over.’”
Gilbert might’ve strung together a few early completions, but the Eagles adjusted. The defensive line generated enough pressure to force Gilbert into uncomfortable, rushed decisions. He completed 20-of-31 passes for 194 yards with zero touchdowns.
Offensively, the Eagles eventually overcame the rough start by relying on their primary strength: running the ball.
Tailbacks Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard and Hurts combined for 238 rushing yards on 41 carries. Hurts added two rushing scores, upping his season total to a franchise-record 10 rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. Showing off their dominance in the trenches, the Eagles are the first team in the NFL to rush for 175-plus yards in seven consecutive games since the 1985 Chicago Bears.
“We all know what’s at stake these last few games,” Sanders said. “We’re trying to handle it the right way.”
After his first two turnovers, Hurts dug deep and strung together his second-highest completion rate of the season. He completed 20-of-26 passes for 296 yards and one touchdown. HIs best throw of the night was a 19-yard dart to receiver Greg Ward in the back of the end zone. On the play, Hurts rolled out of the pocket and threw on the run, and Ward perfectly executed a back-shoulder catch to cement the game. The Eagles won 27-17.
With three regular season games remaining, the 7-7 Eagles’ playoff hopes are alive and well.
“We were really beating ourselves with the first two turnovers, we just had to come back from that,” Sanders said.