There’s vindication for everyone who thought the Philadelphia Eagles’ undefeated record was fraudulent, propped up by an easy schedule.
For Eagles fans, they’ll wonder if an undefeated season was taken from them by the officials.
Nobody thought the Eagles were going 17-0 this season, but not many people thought it would be the Washington Commanders to hand Philadelphia its first loss this season. The Eagles were outplayed and lost 32-21. They rarely had the ball because they couldn’t get first downs and couldn’t get the Commanders off the field.
They still had a great chance to win, but officials missed an obvious facemask on Washington that turned into a game-changing Eagles fumble in the fourth quarter. Commanders linebacker Jamin Davis dragged Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert down by his facemask, Goedert fumbled and the Commanders recovered. Washington got a field goal off of that gift turnover. It was a huge turning point in the game, though Philadelphia can’t blame just that on the loss, no matter how bad the missed call was.
For another year, the 1972 Miami Dolphins are safe as the only perfect team in NFL history.
Commanders take a lead at halftime
The Eagles came in 8-0 and it seemed like they’d have no trouble against the 4-5 Commanders. On Washington’s first possession Taylor Heinicke was strip-sacked, and Philadelphia scored a few plays after recovering that fumble. Everyone probably figured that was the start of a blowout.
But Washington answered right away with a long touchdown drive to tie the game. That set the tone. The Eagles would’t get an easy win on Monday night.
Still, it felt like the Eagles would eventually take over and win. But their quick three-and-outs kept coming. One allowed Washington to kick a 58-yard field goal to end the first half with a 20-14 lead. Philadelphia went three-and-out again to start the second half. Washington took the next possession and got another field goal.
Washington led 23-14 at that point. All of a sudden, the possibility of Philadelphia being upset by the Commanders started to become a lot more real.
Eagles rally but have momentum stopped
The Eagles weren’t done. They finally went on a long drive, and DeVonta Smith caught a touchdown pass from Jalen Hurts early in the fourth quarter to cut Washington’s lead to 23-21.
The Eagles defense hadn’t done much to that point. They’re vulnerable against the run without rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis, who is on injured reserve, and the Commanders ran it well against them. But Philadelphia finally came up with a big play, as Heinicke threw a reckless pass downfield and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson picked it off deep in Eagles territory. The Eagles had the momentum. Then came the horrible missed call on what was a blatant facemask on Goedert, and a fumble that handed Washington three points. The game changed at that moment.
The Eagles still could have overcome it. After the missed call, Jalen Hurts hit Quez Watkins deep downfield for a long gain. Watkins got up before he was touched, and in the process of going for extra yardage he was stripped of the ball. The Commanders recovered, which cost the Eagles a prime scoring opportunity.
The Eagles made a big mistake in the final two minutes. Heinicke took a knee before he got sacked on third down, but Brandon Graham didn’t stop and he hit Heinicke after taking a few steps. It was a tough call but an obvious mistake by Graham when the Eagles were about to get the ball back. Washington added a defensive touchdown on the final play when it recovered a fumble in the end zone on an Eagles lateral play gone wrong.
It’s unfortunate that the officiating mistake will loom over the result, because Washington deserves a lot of credit for how it played. The Commanders ran the ball well, made some plays in the passing game and limited the Eagles offense all night. That won the game.
The Eagles will just wonder how the game might have turned out if officials didn’t miss an obvious penalty.