Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

Rivera reflects on how the Commanders upset the Eagles


The Philadelphia Eagles are just four quarters away from claiming their second Super Bowl in six years, and that should not be a surprise to anyone who watched them play. 

Beating the Eagles was viewed as an unconquerable task throughout the 2022 season, and that was true for the first eight weeks. Their offense is brimming with weapons like A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Miles Sanders surrounding Jalen Hurts, while their defense boasted the most fearsome pass rush and stingiest secondary in the league. 

Then the Washington Commanders rolled into Lincoln Financial Stadium on Monday Night Football as an 11-point underdog. Thanks to the defense pouncing on turnovers and the offense's commitment to the run game, the Commanders ended up winning by 11 points and knocking off the Eagles to get back to .500 and keep their playoff hopes alive. 

The upset is still the only game the Eagles lost with Hurts as their starting quarterback this season. Coach Ron Rivera spent time on Radio Row this week explaining how the Commanders were able to pull it off. 

"When you play a talent like that [Hurts], a triple threat talent, you gotta decide whether you want to run the football or hand the football off or you wanna get the football out of his hands as quickly as possible," Rivera said.

That is a difficult decision to make, because Hurts can be a problem in all three areas. His abilities as a passer have improved from last season -- his 333 yards against the Minnesota Vikings is a prime example of that -- and he can be just as impressive with his legs -- he beat the Green Bay Packers with 157 rushing yards on 17 carries.

There are also games, like the 48-22 win over the New York Giants, where he can let other players thrive. He still had 77 rushing yards in the Week 14 victory, but it was Miles Sanders who controlled the running game with 144 yards and two touchdowns.

The Commanders managed to contain Hurts and the Eagles in every facet. Not only did Hurts put up some of his worst passing numbers (175 yards on 26 attempts), but it was also one of his less impressive nights on the ground (28 yards on six carries).

The Commanders held the Eagles' offense to less than 300 total yards, which happened only two times in the regular season.

"If you can do that, whatever those things you want to do, you give yourselves a better opportunity," Rivera said. "As soon as he no longer is that triple threat, it gives you a chance to focus in on what they're doing."

It also helped that Washington made sure to keep the ball away from Hurts and the Eagles' offense as much as possible. The Commanders ran the ball 49 times in the victory, racking up 152 yards and two touchdowns. The 3.1-yard average was not spectacular, but it did help Washington dominate the time of possession. The Commanders held the ball for 40 minutes compared to just 20 for the Eagles.

That might not be the approach Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs take on Sunday, but it did work in Washington's favor.

"Our philosophy that evening was the longer we held the ball, the less opportunities Jalen had to score," Rivera said. "That was one of the things that we really thought about and talked about as we were getting ready for that week."

The 2022 season was full of memorable moments for the Washington Commanders. Relive the best game action from the team.

That falls in line Rivera's beliefs when it comes to building rosters. He wants a team that can protect the quarterback and control the ground game on offense while being able to rush opposing passers and stop the run on defense.

"If you can handle those situations, you give yourself a much better chance to win," Rivera said.

The Chiefs, who ran through the AFC with a 14-3 record, have the potential to succeed in many of those areas. Their running game is not as strong as their passing attack, but they did allow the third fewest sacks after reworking their offensive line. On defense, they were eighth in rushing yards allowed, and they were second behind the Eagles in sacks.

Like the Commanders, the Chiefs are viewed as underdogs heading into Sunday's game. On Sunday, we will see if they can repeat Washington's feat.

Related Content