The Washington Football Team took on the Philadelphia Eagles with playoffs on the line and dropped its second-straight contest, 27-17. Here are five takeaways from the defeat.
1. Washington zoomed out to an early lead…
It certainly wasn't the best situation rolling with a quarterback that was on another team's practice squad five days ago, but there were some things Washington could have done to make life easier for Garrett Gilbert. Giving him a short field was one of them, and that's exactly what it did.
In one of the wildest sequences of the week, Jalen Hurts' pass to Dallas Goedert bounced off the tight end's foot, and Landon Collins was in the right spot once again and grabbed his second pick in as many games. Seven plays later, all of which were highlighted by Antonio Gibson, Washington pounded into the end zone.
It seemed like the Eagles were starting to gain some momentum on their ensuing drive, but they were struck with even more misfortune when Montez Sweat ripped the ball away from Hurts, and once again Collins was to capitalize on the turnover. After a 46-yard snag by Terry McLaurin, the offense stalled at the Eagles' 4-yard line, and Brian Johnson’s 22-yard field goal gave the team a two-score lead.
Given how Washington had received a bevy of bad news ahead of the critical division matchup, it was about as good of a start as the team could hope for.
2. …but it could not hold that lead for long.
Once the Eagles got calmed down from coughing up two turnovers in their first two drives, Hurts and the offense began to roll.
Philadelphia scored 17 unanswered points, racking up 227 yard in that span. Hurts was the star of the surge for the Eagles. Not only did he punch in both of the Eagles' touchdown drives, but he also gashed the defense through the air. At one point, he was 10-of-13 for 169 yards, most of which went to Goedert, who finished the game with 135 yards on seven catches.
Washington, meanwhile, was stalling without the turnovers to fuel the offense. As the Eagles closed, tied and eventually took the lead, Washington put up an uninspiring 28 yards. The team punted on two of its last three drives, with the third ending a sack on Gilbert.
The Eagles held a 17-10 lead after their opening drive of the third quarter, and while it was only a one-score game, it was clear Philadelphia had all the momentum.
3. The Eagles had their way in the running game.
The Eagles were the best running team in the league heading into the matchup with an average of 160 yards on the ground. Against Washington, they showed why they were so dangerous.
Philadelphia finished the game with 238, but it was already an impressive night midway through the third quarter with 182 yards at that point, most of which was credited to Miles Sanders, who carried the load with 131 yards on 18 carries.
One of the most damning examples of just how well Sanders was playing came with the score tied, 10-10. Sanders flipped the field with a 37-yard sprint all the way down to Washington's 21-yard line. Three plays later, Hurts snuck into the end zone to give his team the lead.
Adding to the headaches was Washington's inability to get its own running game going. For the first time in almost two months, the team was held to fewer than 100 yards on the ground. It finished with 63 and an average of three yards per carry.
4. Once again, a late push was not enough for a comeback.
Once the Eagles got the lead, it did enough to keep Washington at bay. Once again, as the fourth quarter was drawing to a close, Washington tried to rally for a comeback.
And once again, it was not enough.
Washington was desperate with the score 20-10. It had not had a successful drive since the end of the first quarter. But thanks to a pass interference drawn by Adam Humphries, Washington stayed alive and turned into Jaret Patterson’s first-career touchdown.
The three-point gap lasted about four minutes, and during that time the Eagles marched 80 yards downfield, and with a 19-yard pass to Greg Ward, Philadelphia put its lead back up by 10 points.
Washington then went on a 12-play drive, but it could only muster a dismal 26 yards, leaving the Eagles the opportunity to run out the clock.
5. Playoff hopes narrow.
Washington is still technically in the playoff hunt, but it will need plenty of help in order to get to the postseason.
Washington now has a quick turnaround before taking on the Dallas Cowboys, who locked up the NFC East, in primetime. It will then play the Eagles again at FedExField before wrapping up the regular season by playing the New York Giants on the road. Washington will need to win all of those games to give itself a chance.
Then, assuming Washington has won out, it will need several things to swing in its favor around the league. Ron Rivera’s message will be for the team to control what it can control as it tries to get healthy in the next five days.