The Washington Football Team is headed to the playoffs. By defeating the division rival Philadelphia Eagles on "Sunday Night Football," the Football Team finished the season with a 7-9 record, putting them one game ahead of the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
The game itself was not the most well-played contest, and it seemed like the Eagles didn't have much interest in winning the game, considering they benched Jalen Hurts for Nate Sudfeld down the stretch -- a decision that will surely generate a whole lot of discussion throughout this week. In the end, though, what matters is the final score: 20-14 Washington, which will host the No. 5 seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a playoff game next week.
Here are some immediate takeaways from Washington's playoff-clinching victory:
Why Washington won
We use the term "won" loosely here, because if you watched the game, you know all too well that Washington tried its hardest to surrender a narrow lead over a team starting plenty of backups (and igniting online debates about the integrity of a QB swap in a meaningless game). But here's what they did mildly well: They got perfect execution on a few key red-zone throws to Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas, they mostly avoided catastrophic miscues, and their defense got its signature push up front, pressuring Jalen Hurts into an inaccurate day and then feasting on Nate Sudfeld to the tune of three sacks and two picks to seal the deal.
Why the Eagles lost
Twitter will happily tell you why. But in all seriousness, the headlining move to pull Hurts for Sudfeld was not the only reason the Eagles didn't win. Before Sudfeld entered, Philly had gone just 7-of-20 through the air, with Hurts struggling to penetrate Washington's secondary and missing on some crucial red-zone throws behind an inconsistent O-line. Defensively, the Eagles' backup-littered secondary allowed Alex Smith to dink and dunk his way up and down the field early on. Almost no one stepped up out wide, as per usual. Sudfeld, of course, helped cap the loss with a bumbling performance in the fourth, playing right into Washington's hands.
This, friends, is where we can correctly highlight the Hurts move. Although the Eagles weren't exactly lighting the world on fire before making their QB swap, the change to Sudfeld early in the fourth quarter definitely signaled the tables had turned. Washington didn't run away with things by any means, but the Eagles scored precisely zero points after the swap, with Sudfeld finishing 5-of-12 for 30 yards and a pick. It marked the moment Philly at least partially accepted the "L" and allowed Washington's defense to thrive.
Play of the game
Give it to Logan Thomas, who outjumped pretty much everyone in his vicinity to haul in this Alex Smith TD just before halftime:
The Eagles (4-11-1), justified or not, will endure a barrage of criticism for their handling of the QB situation in a meaningless game, then enter what figures to be a wild 2021 offseason with questions surrounding their leadership and QB room. Washington (7-9), meanwhile, will advance to the playoffs as NFC East champions to meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild-card round.