The Washington Football Team dropped its home finale and its fourth straight to the Philadelphia Eagles, 20-16. Here are five takeaways from the afternoon.
1. Washington jumped out to another double-digit lead…
Two weeks ago, Washington took advantage of Eagles turnovers to build an early lead for itself. This time, it was because of an efficient stretch by the Washington offense.
Washington looked completely different from the team that showed up in Texas last week as it went 67 yards downfield on nine plays. Jaret Patterson, who received the start for Antonio Gibson, had 17 yards on the drive and scored his second touchdown of the season. After a turnover on downs from the Eagles, Washington went 60-plus yards again and put Joey Slye in position for a 31-yard attempt.
Slye's kick pushed Washington's chances of winning up to 67.5%, according to ESPN. The surge was the catalyst for why Washington had out-gained one of the most successful offenses in the league for the past eight games. Washington had 231 yards and a nine-point lead at the half, compared to 161 for Philadelphia. What's more, Washington had converted five of its eight third downs, while the Eagles were 1-of-4.
2. …but fell flat for the rest of the game.
Washington scored on all four of its possessions in the first half. All four of its drives in the second half ended in disappointment.
In its second-longest drive of the game, the Eagles came out for the third quarter and went 75 yards on 14 plays taking up nearly eight minutes off the clock and allowing Boston Scott to run in one-yard score.
Washington responded by going backwards and punting three plays later.
In the fourth quarter, the Eagles took the lead for the first time all afternoon with a 42-yard field goal, capping off a nine-play drive. There was still time left with 11:41 on the clock, but Washington would have to do better than the four yards it had put up in the second half up to that point.
Washington drove the ball 30 yards downfield before turning over the ball on downs at its own 49-yard line.
Another field goal came from the Eagles with just under three minutes to go, leaving Washington one last shot to retake the lead and keep its playoff hopes alive. For 11 plays, it looked like Washington was going to do exactly that. But an interception in the end zone dashed those chances with 24 seconds left.
After putting up 231 yards against in the first half, the offense mustered up 89 for the rest of the game.
The Washington Football Team takes on the Philadelphia Eagles looking to snap a three-game losing streak. (Photos by Emilee Fails and Karlee Sell/Washington Football Team; Joe Noyes/NFL)
3. Big plays came at crippling times for Washington's defense.
It's hard to argue with the way Washington's defense played against an Eagles offense that racked up 238 yards on the ground. This time, Washington held Philadelphia to 118 -- a much improved performance that snapped the Eagles' nine-game streak of rushing for at least 125 yards.
The only problem for the defense was the occasional big play from Jalen Hurts that kept the Eagles on the field, and it ultimately proved to be the unit's downfall.
The Eagles had nine plays result in gains of at least 10 yards on scoring drives. What was even more frustrating was that those plays came after minimal gains. In the first quarter, a 19-yard catch from Scott followed a five-yard gain from the running back. A 27-yard catch from Greg Ward in the third quarter came after a three-yard loss and a false start.
Aside from the two touchdowns from the Eagles, Washington's defense was able to hold them in check. The longest drive outside of those two was 33 yards. In the end, it came down to the fact that Philadelphia did enough to stay alive, while Washington could not.
4. Sacks came at inopportune moments.
Washington has generally been one of the better teams when it comes to protecting its quarterbacks. Taylor Heinicke was sacked three times against the Eagles, and all of them came at the worst possible moments.
After rushing out to a 7-0 lead, Washington was on track to find the end zone once again as it got to the Eagles' 19-yard line. The momentum was stopped dead, however, thanks to a seven-yard sack. Luckily, Washington was still able to end the drive with a field goal, but Washington was averaging seven yards on the previous seven plays. After the sack, it only gained five yards.
Both of Washington's punts can be attributed to sacks. The first came on a third-and-6 at the Washington 29-yard line, pushing the offense five yards behind where the drive started. The second was even more discouraging; after moving to the 31 from its own 9-yard line, the 13-yard loss spoiled the progress Washington had made.
The box score will show the sacks resulted in 29 yards lost, but the impact they had felt like so much more.
5. Hoping for a strong finish.
The loss means that Washington has been eliminated from playoff contention. After a four-game win streak that allowed the team to have control of its postseason hopes, a four-game losing streak -- all of which came against NFC East opponents -- has left Washington with headaches.
The only thing left for Washington to hope for is a win to close out the season. To do that, the team must travel to one last time to play the New York Giants, who it defeated all the way back in Week 2 on Thursday Night Football.