LANDOVER, Md. — Good morning, Eagles fans. I bet you’re still thinking about yesterday’s 37-27 Eagles’ win. Well, especially since you’re starting your day by reading this newsletter (thanks, by the way).
In case you need a recap, much like last week the Eagles came out sloppy and apathetic-looking in the first half. The defense did next to nothing against a bad three-win Redskins team, whose quarterback Dwayne Haskins entered the game as one of the least productive signal callers in the NFL and halfway through the second quarter had a perfect passer rating on the day. Thankfully for the Eagles, the offense began clicking in the second half. In the final minutes, practice-squad call-up Greg Ward caught the go-ahead touchdown, and on the final play of regulation, linebacker Nigel Bradham scored off a Haskins fumble.
Also good news for the team, they didn’t add anyone else to their injury report.
The players said they’re hoping they can carry this confidence and momentum into Sunday’s home game against the Dallas Cowboys. If the Eagles win, another Giants game would be all that stands between them and the playoffs.
— Erin McCarthy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For weeks, the Eagles have talked about “must win” games.
In his postgame news conference on Sunday, quarterback Carson Wentz said several times that he and his teammates’ “backs were up against the wall” in tough, fourth-quarter wins last week against the Giants and this week against the Redskins.
But those two opponents combined have won one fewer game than the Eagles.
This Sunday comes the real test in a true must-win matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles’ 7-7 divisional rival and a team that has struggled itself since the Eagles last faced them in an embarrassing 37-10 road loss in Week 7. However, the Cowboys came out Sunday and crushed the Rams, 44-21.
More than 1,300 miles away, in a cramped locker room deep inside FedEx Field, the Eagles blasted “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” during their postgame celebration. Once reporters entered, veterans and newcomers alike made clear they knew which team was next on their schedule.
“We realize what week it is,” Wentz said. “We realize what’s at stake.”
What’s at stake is the NFC East.
There are two ways the 7-7 Eagles can win it, and both involve a win over the 7-7 Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field this Sunday. The Eagles can beat the Cowboys and the Giants, or they can beat the Cowboys and lose to the Giants, if Dallas somehow loses to the Redskins the same week.
“We understand nothing’s promised right now in terms of the postseason," tight end Zach Ertz said. “So we’re just trying to do everything we can to win football games."
On Sunday, it took the offense and defense pulling it together in the game’s final 30 seconds.
With the ball back in Washington’s possession after Greg Ward’s go-ahead score, defensive end Brandon Graham said he thought about the big picture, and about how a loss could sink his team’s season. But he thought, too, about the ways the group was still succeeding despite adversity.
“When stuff’s going bad, you start to see what type of team you’ve got,” he said. “I felt like we did a good job with keeping [up] the positive talk.”
When Jason Kelce was asked about an emotional pregame speech he gave before last week’s win, the center said he believed those words should remain “in-house.” Such emotion, he said, isn’t rare.
“A lot of guys have a lot of emotion,” Kelce said. “A lot of guys take this seriously, and are very passionate."
Graham recalled the team’s three-game losing streak to the Patriots, the Seahawks, and the Dolphins. Even after two wins, albeit ugly wins, he said the team is still fueled by the feelings after those games.
“We ain’t trying to feel embarrassed no more,” Graham said. “We’re trying to give our best effort and if we lose on our best effort, I’m happy with that.”
Next week, the Eagles may have to be. But for now, the team and its fans have a few relaxing days to savor the win, and the possibilities that come with it.
With all the injuries at WR, why cut Jordan Matthews? — @JAuchey via Twitter
Hi J, thanks for the question.
So Jordan Matthews returned to the Eagles last month and played in just two games, the loss to the Patriots and the loss to the Seahawks. During those games, he had only four catches for 33 yards. At the time, the Eagles’ struggles at wide receiver had yet to hit their low point, and Matthews wasn’t worth keeping on the roster as a backup, in part due to simple math.
Greg Ward, who caught the go-ahead touchdown pass against Washington, had already shown promise against the Dolphins. Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor were injured, but both were active for the Dolphins game just days after Matthews was cut.
While Agholor and Jeffery are prone to injury, the Eagles didn’t know the pair’s struggles would continue until this point in the season. Jeffery suffered a season-ending foot injury during the Giants game last week. Agholor hasn’t played since early October, despite his active status in that Dolphins game. It’s unclear whether he will recover from his knee injury in time to return this season.