Instant Analysis of Eagles' comeback win over Washington

Eliot Shorr-Parks
December 15, 2019 - 4:11 pm
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A showdown with Dallas is coming thanks to another comeback win by the Eagles. 

After struggling most of the game, quarterback Carson Wentz and the Eagles came away with a thrilling victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday, 37-27. 

With the win, the Eagles are now 7-7, and could potentially clinch the NFC East with a win over the Dallas Cowboys next week if the Cowboys lose to the Los Angeles Rams. 

Here are some takeaways from the win:

Wentz: Give Wentz credit — for the second week in a row, he stepped up when the Eagles needed him to. 

After struggling most of the game, Wentz took the offense down the field in the final minutes of the game for the game-winning touchdown. 

The first big play of the drive came on 3rd-and-five, with Wentz sitting back in the pocket and waiting for receiver Greg Ward to get open, then completing it for 13-yards and the first down. Then, on 1st-and-10 three plays later, Wentz found tight end Dallas Goedert, who made an extremely impressive one-handed catch for a 20-yard gain to get the Eagles down to the Washington 28-yard line. Wentz capped the drive off with a four-yard touchdown to Ward, who made a great catch in the back of the end zone. 

Still, once again, Wentz’s accuracy was an issue for the offense. 

One of Wentz’s first poor throws of the game came on the second drive, when he had receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside open in the end zone, but didn’t do a good job leading him and made what should have been a touchdown into an incompletion (although the pass was also dropped). On 3rd-and-7 with just over two minutes to play in the first half, Wentz had tight end Zach Ertz open over the middle of the field, but put it too high and off to the side, causing Ertz to have to reach for the ball and an incompletion. Wentz’s accuracy issues struck again on the first drive of the third quarter, when on 3rd-and-3 from the team’s own 22-yard line, he threw a pass right at the feet of a wide-open Greg Ward. 

Like the accuracy issues that have plagued Wentz, he had issues holding onto the ball on Sunday as well. Wentz’s first fumble was recovered by the Eagles, but his second wasn’t at came at a terrible time, as he turned it over with just over six minutes to play in the game, giving Washington the ball on the Eagles’ 33-yard line. Wentz now has his 45 fumbles in 54 career games, an issue he has insisted he will fix but has been unable to so far. 

Wentz did make one of the best throws of his career in the third quarter, finding running back Miles Sanders from 15-yards out to give the Eagles a 17-14 lead. The throw was an absolute rocket and couldn’t have been placed any better, hitting Sanders right in the hands in the corner of the end zone.

The bottom line is this -- Wentz is winnig games the last two weeks and playing his best when they need them most. The issues he is having overall, however, are very concerning. 

Miles Sanders: One of the few bright spots for the Eagles on offense this season has been rookie Miles Sanders and that was once again the case on Sunday. 

Sanders got off to a great start, making multiple defenders miss on first catch, then going for 11 yards on his second carry. Overall Sanders had 64 yards of offense on the Eagles’ first two drives, including a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Eagles up 10-7 midway through the second quarter. 

Sanders scored the Eagles’ second touchdown of the day as well, holding onto a rocket of a pass from Wentz from 15-yards out, giving the Eagles a 17-14 lead with five minutes to play in the third quarter. 

It is scary to think of where this offense would be if it wasn’t for Sanders, who has met the challenge of having to step up this season more than a rookie should be expected to. 

Sanders stepped up once again in the fourth quarter, when on 3rd-and-10 from the Eagles’ own 25-yard line, he took the ball 56-yards all the way down to the Washington 19-yard line. While the play was perfectly blocked, Sanders showed some great speed on the play to turn it into a huge gain. Three plays later, Wentz found Ertz from two-yards out to give the team a 24-21 lead — a lead they wouldn’t have had without Sanders’ big play. 

It isn’t often that a rookie running back carries the offense, but that is exactly what happened on Sunday. It is scary to think of where this offense would be without Sanders. 

The Defense: Not great! 

For the third week in a row the Eagles’ defensive backfield had an extremely rough start to the game, putting the team in an early hole. The blame deserves to go all around in the secondary, who once again made an offense that was one of the worst in the NFL look like one of the best. A sign of just how bad the secondary was to start the game? Rookie quarterback Dwyane Haskins, who has struggled all season, started the game 8/10 for 138 yards, two touchdowns and a 158.3 passer rating. 

The defense held it together for the third quarter, but after the offense scored at the end of the third quarter to take a 17-14 lead, the defense allowed Washington to go right down the field on a 10-play, 75-yard drive to take the lead right back with a touchdown. The issue on this drive was the run defense, as Washington ran it eight times, including a 10-yard run by Adrian Peterson for a touchdown. 

The best way to summarize how the defense played on Sunday? They allowed Washington score after each of the Eagles’ scoring drives, killing any chance the team had to gain momentum or put Washington away.  

Good start for offense: Things didn’t seem promising when the Eagles took the ball on the 5-yard line to start their first drive of the game, considering the personnel they were taking the field with. Three third-down conversions, and 88-yards later, the Eagles kicked a field goal to take a 3-0 lead. The offense went down the field on the next drive as well, going 75-yards on 10 plays.

Doug Pederson: Two questionable decisions at end of the first half. First, Washington was called for holding on 2nd-and-4 from their own 15-yard line. Pederson, instead of pushing Washington back, elected to decline the penalty and put Washington in a 3rd-and-four situation — which they converted. Then, two plays later, another Washington penalty called for a 10-second runoff — but Pederson declined that as well, giving Washington more time with the ball. The penalties didn’t end up hurting the Eagles, but they were head scratchers considering how the defense had been playing so far in the game.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: The struggles of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside have been clear each week this season, but they looked even worse on Sunday. Arcega-Whiteside dropped what should have been a touchdown on the second-drive of the game, allowing a pass that was poorly thrown but catchable to bounce off his chest in the end zone. The drop looked even worse after Washington rookie receiver Terry McLaurin went 75-yards for a touchdown on the previous drive. 

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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