Eagles survive overtime thriller thanks to Jake Elliott’s heroic 54-yard field goal

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts warms up before an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

After a game filled with penalties, missed opportunities and all-round chaos, it was only fitting that overtime would be needed to separate two divisional rivals in the Eagles and Commanders. In the end, it took a heroic moment from a man who’s come up big for Philadelphia time and time again – Jake Elliott.

The Eagles are 4-0 after Jake Elliott nailed a 54-yard field goal to finally put an end to what felt like a never-ending barrage of twists and turns. All that matters is the W, but it could’ve very easily ended differently.

A slow start

The Philadelphia Eagles started out a little sluggishly on defense. The Commanders were quick to try and put the spotlight on Josh Jobe, who has been given a starting role in light of the season-ending injury to Avonte Maddox, with varying success.

Washington scored on their opening drive and marched down the field relatively unchallenged, highlighting a potential area of weakness for Philly. If they could keep Sam Howell away from that fiery pass rush and get the ball out of his hands quickly, it would be tough for the Eagles to keep up.

Jalen Hurts is HIM

The Eagles responded with a touchdown of their own and for the most part, Jalen Hurts looked really strong. Not only in that drive, but the entire game. After completing every pass for 49 yards and a touchdown in that drive, it was clear that the Oklahoma product was ready for battle.

He was cool, calm, and collected, leading the offense down the field with confidence and both A.J Brown and DeVonta Smith benefited greatly from that. This almost looked like it was going to be a repeat of the week 10 game last year, and if the team was going to win, it would require the strongest game of the season from Jalen Hurts.

Hurts stepped up to the challenge, making big plays at big times. No pass was more important than the late touchdown pass to A.J Brown, which gave the Eagles a 30-24 lead with just 1:43 remaining.

The $255M man found his best friend throughout the matchup, with Brown ending the day on 175 yards. It’s the second week in a row that Brown has passed the 130-yard mark.

It’s been a long time coming. Jalen Hurts has been getting better each week but still felt some way off the player who challenged Patrick Mahomes for the MVP Award in 2022. This was a much better effort and one that very much deserves praise.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) gestures during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

That sideline spat feels like a distant memory. Hurts and Brown are dealing like we are all used to seeing, and the chemistry between Jalen and his receivers was arguably the difference in today’s game. Unfortunately, injuries and a soft approach to coverage defensively meant that the offense would just have to keep digging deeper.

The rest of the game?

Sandwiched between those opening drives and the thrilling finish was a filling of penalties and unbuttoned play from both teams. The Eagles were certainly victims of suspect calls right from the off, including a phantom offside, phantom PI’s, and just about everything else you could possibly imagine, with each seeming more egregious than the last. Good teams find a way to win in those situations, however, and that’s exactly what Philadelphia did.

You’d think the fun would stop in overtime, but it somehow got worse. Washington missed on a 3rd and 5 because Terry McLaurin’s foot was on Reed Blankenship’s arm and not the turf, with his other being out of bounds. The pass was ruled incomplete, the Commanders punted, and finally, the Eagles had some luck of their own.

But it should never have got to that point.

The Eagles defense struggles

Whether it was a lack of execution or a gameplan that the Commanders accounted for is irrelevant. What matters is that this felt like a prime Jim Schwartz defense. Passes being thrown underneath at will with cornerbacks too far away to do anything about it. The secondary was burned time and time again and with penalties complicating things, it felt like the defense needed a swift swing of the pendulum.

Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14) throws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Nicholas Morrow was one man to orchestrate that move. He registered 3 sacks on the day, which as a linebacker on the EAGLES is a hall of fame-worthy achievement! His third came in the dying embers of regular time to give Washington a 2nd and 17 with just over a minute remaining.

Morrow started the year on the practice squad and was a key cog in suffocating and keeping Sam Howell uncomfortable. Unfortunately, Sean Desai’s defense somehow allowed Washington back into the game, with Sam Howell taking endless easy options thanks to soft ‘bend but don’t break’ coverage.

Haason Reddick was another name to come up big when the Eagles needed him most. Now finally free of a lingering injury, it felt like it was right back to full-speed for Reddick, who registered his first sack of the season in crunch time. Again, this would, unfortunately, be undone because of Washington’s ability to consistently take advantage of the 10-yard pockets of space between the corners and the line of scrimmage.

A sigh of relief

The Eagles didn’t exactly make life easy for themselves. But after finally getting some luck of their own in overtime, the offense did what it was able to all game – move the ball with ease. Jake Elliott was left with a 54-yard attempt to win the game, and there was never a doubt that he’d send the ball right through the middle of the uprights.

Good teams win even when the odds are stacked against them. Sure, the Eagles dug themselves some holes defensively and penalties hardly helped. But Jalen Hurts brought his A-game to will the team over the line, and Jake Elliott’s field goal was enough to put the cherry on top.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Philadelphia Eagles are 4-0. Their attention now turns to the Los Angeles Rams, who also recorded a thrilling crunch-time win on Sunday afternoon. Can the Birds move to 5-0? Only time will tell.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum