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Commanders Knock Eagles Off Their Undefeated Perch

By Mark Solway | November 15th, 2022

There weren’t a lot of people giving the Commanders much of a chance of beating the 8-0 Eagles leading into the Monday Night Football game. That’s why they play the games. Any Given Sunday. Washington stunned Philadelphia and their fans with a 32-21 victory and handed them their first loss of the season.

Eagles fans and pundits were quick to complain. And cry.

“The refs gave them the game.”

Boo hoo hoo.

Washington completely dominated time of possession.

The Commanders also forced the Eagles to commit as many turnovers in one game, as they had in the entire season – three.

Does that prove that the referees clearly wanted Washington to win?

Perhaps the excuses were because the fans had started to buy into the undefeated hype. They thought they could make a run at Miami’s 17-0 mark from 1972, and the lone perfect season. Or the New England Patriots 18-0 streak in 2007, before losing in the Super Bowl.

Instead they’re just one of many teams that started the season with a bang, but fell short. In fact, there have been 28 different NFL teams that made it to 8-0. That includes the 11-0 Pittsburgh Steelers that Washington knocked off in 2020.

Ref Excuses

Jamin Davis grabbed Dallas Goedert by the face mask in the fourth quarter and it wasn’t called. Then Goedert fumbled the ball. Did one cause the other? That’s debatable. But referees miss calls all the time and true football fans know that no football game can be pinned down to a single play. Or shouldn’t be anyway.

The second referee gaffe that Eagles fans were complaining about came at the very end of the game.

Defensive End Brandon Graham was penalized for an unnecessary roughness call on QB Taylor Heinicke. The penalty extended Washington’s drive and left Philadelphia with just 5 seconds at the end of the game.

Fans were upset because they thought that Graham barely hit him.

Alex Kemp – the refereee – said that Graham was penalized because Heinicke “had clearly given himself up. Therefore, he is down and a defenseless player. The contact by Philadelphia No. 55 was not only late, but also to the head and neck area.”

Case closed.

Heinicke Leads

He may not have been spectacular, but Heinicke was certainly the leader out there.

He finished 17 of 29 for 211 yards. Terry McLaurin caught 128 of that total 0n 8 receptions.

The injured Carson Wentz is still on the shelf but once he is healthy, it’s not a foregone conclusion that he will return to the starting position. Could he? Yes, he gets paid a lot of money. But Taylor Heinicke is the current heart and soul of this team – and their 4-1 run that has put them back in contention.

Joey Slye

Joey Slye kicked four field goals. Ordinarily, that alone would be mentionable but not earth-shattering.

The fact that he kicked a 55 yard field goal and a 58-yard field goal however, is quite remarkable.

The 58-yarder was the longest field goal from a Washington kicker for more than a decade (Graham Gan0, 2011, 59 yards).

Scott Turner

Oh what a difference a week makes. Last week Turner ended up with the ugly tag after calling a lacklustre game against the Vikings.

This week, he was arguably the game’s most important cog.

Washington ran the ball 49 times. They converted 9 of 12 third downs in the first half alone.

Washington possessed the ball for more than 40 of the 60 minutes. In fact, in the first half they possessed the ball almost 18 minutes more than the Eagles – 23:49 to 6:11. That’s the biggest possession spread in a first half in franchise history.

The best way to silence a great offense like Philadelphia’s, is to keep them on the bench. That’s exactly what Turner’s play-calling did.

Dynamic Duo

Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson were a solid one-two punch. Robinson had 86 yards on 26 carries and just wouldn’t be denied on his touchdown. What an effort.

Gibson also had a touchdown and had 44 yards on 14 carries despite seemingly getting injured early on.

Washington had 152 yards on 49 carries and it was the main reason that they were able to keep the Eagles offense off of the field.

That Hurts

Despite Jalen Hurts striking a Heisman pose after an early score, he finished just 17 of 26 for 175 yards. He had two touchdowns and one interception.

That won’t win many trophies.

The Eagles trailed at halftime for the first time this year. Hurts connected with wideout DeVonta Smith for an 11-yard touchdown in the fourth that got the Eagles within two at 23-21, but failed to draw them any nearer.

He wasn’t posing after the game for some reason.

On A Run

The win was Washington’s fourth in their last five games. Heinicke has lost just one of his four starts.

The Commanders now sit at 5-5 and are on the edge of playoff contention. From 1-4 to 5-5 is a great turnaround.

Could all four teams in the NFC East make the playoffs? What a happening that would be.

Will it be Wentz or Heinicke moving forward?

It’s hard to imagine Ron Rivera taking the ball out of Heinicke’s hands at this point.

Final score Wk 10 graphic

What’s Next

The 5-5 Commanders play Sunday at Houston.

The 8-1 Eagles play Jeff Saturday’s Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

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