LANDOVER, Md. — Fourth down hadn’t been kind to the Eagles. In their first 15 games, they converted the lowest percentage among NFL teams, and then on Nick Sirianni’s first roll of the dice Sunday, his offense was stopped again.

But the Eagles coach remained aggressive. He went for it on the Eagles’ next possession, this time at the 2-yard line, and converted when his offensive line steamrolled a path for Boston Scott. And Sirianni gambled again to open the second half from a yard out, and was successful when the running back sailed into the end zone for his second touchdown.

“I felt in those scenarios we have to be aggressive,” said Sirianni, who previously converted only 29.4% of fourth downs. “I’m always going to look at the charts, see what it says, but I’m going to make a decision based off what I think is necessary within that game.”

And in this game, one with playoff implications, Sirianni’s gut calls were good enough as the Eagles overcame another sluggish start and squeaked by Washington, 20-16, at FedEx Field.

» READ MORE: Eagles-Washington analysis: Rodney McLeod seals the win with an interception, Boston Scott shines

It wasn’t the prettiest of performances, especially early on the defensive side. The Eagles know plenty about unpleasant beginnings having started the season 2-5. But they have since won seven of nine and are guaranteed a winning season and the playoffs in Sirianni’s first year as head coach.

“He’s just resilient,” Eagles tackle Lane Johnson said of Sirianni. “We were 2-5 … it wasn’t looking good, and he just stated about doubling down on the core values we have. That’s really what he’s been preaching the whole year.”

The coach will be the first to say he hasn’t been perfect. His play-calling and decision-making has been inconsistent at times. But Sirianni has gotten a lot right, especially in the last two-plus months, to the point where he should warrant NFL coach of the year consideration.

The 9-7 Eagles officially clinched a wild card postseason berth Sunday evening when the Vikings lost at the Packers. They will be either the sixth or seventh seed, and based upon all possible outcomes next weekend, their first round-road opponent will be, in order of likelihood, either the Buccaneers (a 68.6 percent chance), Rams (15.6), Cardinals (9.4) or Cowboys (6.3).

But their chances and whether Sirianni opts to rest his starters in the season finale against Dallas are topics for later. The coach and the Eagles have already accomplished much.

And considering the inexperience of the coaching staff, the youth of the roster and quarterback Jalen Hurts, and salary-cap restrictions, they have already exceeded most offseason expectations. Certainly the hopes of many fans after a lopsided loss to the Raiders in Las Vegas in October.

“When you’re 2-5, if you look at how you’re going to get four wins in a row, if you’re going to get back to 9-7, that … mountain looks really tall to climb,” Sirianni said. “But when you focus on one day, one meeting, one walk-through, one practice at a time, it becomes way more manageable.

“And that’s all we tried to do.”

Sirianni’s one-day-at-a-time mantra may sound like cliche. And the “doubling down” message he’s delivered to his team since October may have a pollyannaish ring to it. Some outsiders pounced when, after the early struggles, he compared his team to the roots of a flower before it had blossomed.

But the only opinions that mattered were the ones inside the NovaCare Complex, and Sirianni never buckled.

“Everybody in this locker room believed,” said Eagles safety Rodney McLeod, whose late fourth-quarter interception clinched the victory. “When everybody wrote us off when we’re 2-5, we continued to believe in ourselves. We trusted the process. We continued to prepare the same way, have that same level of focus, and we got better.

“And we’re seeing the results of that now.”

The Eagles trailed, 7-0, after Washington marched down the field on their opening possession. They responded and advanced to the Washington 24. But Sirianni passed up a 42-yard field goal attempt and handed off to Jordan Howard on fourth-and-1.

Howard, who missed most of practice last week with a stinger, was stuffed at the line.

Sirianni didn’t turtle up, though, the next time he had to make a tough call. He had Scott run behind the interior of an O-line that has been among the best in the NFL, and the tailback crossed the line to trim the lead to 10-7.

A series later, though, after Washington tacked on another field goal, Sirianni got conservative. He punted on fourth-and-4 at the WFT 45 when various analytical models deemed the win percentage significant enough for the Eagles to go for it.

“I wanted to punt in that scenario,” Sirianni said. “I wanted to make them go a long way.”

A long way they did, and Sirianni seemingly helped. He called a timeout on third-and-1 with 34 seconds left thinking his defense might stop Washington — the Eagles did not — and the offense could get the ball back and score.

And he called another timeout just before Washington kicker Joey Slye attempted a 55-yard field goal with seconds left. Slye booted away and was wide right. He made sure he was good, though, on his next try, and Washington took a 16-7 lead into the break.

“I try to put myself in those scenarios before they happen,” Sirianni said. “We try to do that as much as we can as a staff before they happen, and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t.

“But I’m never going to second-guess myself when I feel confident in something.”

» READ MORE: Eagles’ comeback win against Washington tells the story of the season

Little was known about Sirianni’s thoughts on analytics and how aggressive he would be before his first game. Owner Jeffrey Lurie has long advocated for offensive aggressiveness that is often a byproduct of numbers-based reasoning.

Sirianni has not coached like a robot, though. He likes to make decisions based upon feel and tends to lean conservative. Only four other teams had more fourth down tries than the Eagles through the first 16 weeks. But his decisions in the second half Sunday were supported by the analytics community.

His fourth-and-1 handoff to Scott at the goal line to open the second half was a green light. A quarter later, the Eagles faced fourth-and-3, again at the Washington 24. But Sirianni had Jake Elliott kick the 42-yarder for a 17-16 lead.

And then a series later, after Hurts sneaked for a first down on a short fourth-and-1, Sirianni had Elliott boot a 41-yard field goal on fourth-and-5 for a 20-16 margin that would force Washington to score a touchdown with just over two minutes left.

They did not, thanks to McLeod. But also thanks to the Eagles’ other leaders, who Sirianni said kept the team relaxed after they spotted Washington a 10-0 lead for the second time in 12 days.

“What I felt on the sideline today was this calmness,” Sirianni said. “There was a calmness throughout the entire game. … Us recovering from the 2-5 [start] to where we are now, it prepares you for games like this, where you’re in a hole and you got to chip away at it.”

Sirianni certainly didn’t want to be in an early-season hole. But in retrospect it forced the coach to look at his approach and make changes, as much as he stuck to his core values of connectivity, competition, accountability, football IQ, and fundamentals.

He tilted his offensive play-calling toward the ground. He had defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon make personnel and scheme changes to allow the Eagles to challenge offenses more.

And Sirianni looked inward. He was riding the emotional roller coaster of the Eagles’ start, or he would have sideline outbursts, and he didn’t want his players to adopt the same temperament. His steadiness since could explain the calmness he described above, and probably the Eagles’ turnaround.

Sirianni became the fourth rookie head coach to have a winning season after starting 2-5 or worse through seven games, joining Mike Holmgren (1992), Mike Mularkey (2005), and Frank Reich (2018).

Reich was the only one of the first three to reach the postseason. Sirianni was right there by the side of his mentor with the Colts. He has now followed in his footsteps. He has more possible steps to take, although the Eagles have already come so far.

“We’ve connected, we’ve communicated,” Hurts said, “we’ve just grown one percent better every day.”

Sirianni saw it. It took a while for almost everyone else.