The Eagles welcomed Washington to town on Tuesday night for one of the last of the NFL's delayed Week 15 games, and for a while, it looked like they might let their NFC East rivals silence the Philadelphia crowd. Behind journeyman Garrett Gilbert, making an emergency start at quarterback for a club down a combined 20+ coaches and players due to COVID-19, Washington jumped out to a 10-point lead on the road. But then the Eagles' ground game came alive, and Jalen Hurts led Nick Sirianni's run-heavy attack to own the second half and claim a 27-17 victory, maintaining their place in the NFC wild card race while putting a major dent in Washington's chances.
Here are some instant takeaways from Tuesday's Eagles win:
Why the Eagles won
They ran the ball and stopped the run. It may sound cliche, but it's a recipe for success in December, and it just so happens to be something they've done well under Nick Sirianni. Things were ugly out of the gate, with Dallas Goedert dropping a wide-open short pass that turned into a Washington pick and Jalen Hurts losing the ball on a long scramble. But they never panicked and leaned deeper into the ground game as the night wore on, with Hurts, Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard teaming up to gash Washington with both speed and power. A killer showing from the Eagles' offensive line helped, and Goedert made up for his drops with a slew of first-down routes. Jalen Reagor, DeVonta Smith and Greg Ward all contributed key catches, meanwhile, and Hurts really settled in after his sloppy first quarter; he would've finished 23 of 26 if not for the drops. Defensively, Fletcher Cox came alive with 1.5 sacks and additional pressures, while the unit stuffed a banged-up Antonio Gibson all night.
Why Washington lost
They couldn't find any rhythm when they had the ball. Honestly, that was to be expected considering how many bodies they were missing coming into this game. And emergency QB Garrett Gilbert wasn't horrible; the guy literally just joined the team over the weekend, and he stood tall to extend and make a handful of plays to keep Washington battling. But Antonio Gibson struggled to find space in between a lengthy trip to the sidelines, Terry McLaurin was limited to a few big catches, and no one else emerged out wide. Ron Rivera's defense was feisty early on, with Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen chipping in with plays up front, but the unit had zero answers for Sirianni's rushing attack -- even when it became predictable later in the game.
The Eagles scored 20 unanswered points before Washington narrowed Philly's lead to three with a Jaret Patterson TD run. Then, on the Eagles' ensuing drive, facing a third-and-6 near midfield, Sirianni dialed up a bubble screen to Jalen Reagor -- who's been on the wrong end of some game-sealing plays this year. Reagor didn't just catch the screen, though; he exploded for 34 yards down the sideline after avoiding initial contact. Right after that, Hurts found Greg Ward for the Eagles' final score, keeping the home team in front for good.
Play of the game
Landon Collins showcased his awareness by picking off an early Jalen Hurts pass that bounced off Dallas Goedert's heel, but Hurts made a more important play late in the contest when he rifled a perfectly placed end-zone shot to Greg Ward, whose touchdown catch was maybe the best of his career:
The Eagles (7-7) will return to the field in just five days for a Week 16 rematch with the Giants (4-10), who could be turning to Jake Fromm at QB on Dec. 26 after a blowout loss to the Cowboys. Washington (6-8), meanwhile, will stay on the road to take on the Cowboys on "Sunday Night Football," perhaps with their playoff lives on the line.