The Washington Football Team clinched the NFC East division and a postseason berth with a controversial 20-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football.
Washington (7-9) entered the game knowing that a win would send them to the playoffs, while the already-eliminated Eagles (4-11-1) could have sent the New York Giants (6-10) – who had earlier beaten the Dallas Cowboys – through with a victory of their own.
The Eagles trailed by only three points, down 17-14 in the third quarter, when head coach Doug Pederson passed up a chip-shot field goal to tie the game up to instead go for it on fourth-and-four.
- Eagles passing: Jalen Hurts, 7/20, 72 yards, 1 INT
- Rushing leader: Boston Scott, 15 carries, 65 yards
- Receiving leader: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, two catches, 40 yards
Jalen Hurts’ pass to Quez Watkins fell incomplete and the Philadelphia quarterback – who had earlier scored two rushing TDs – was benched shortly after in another bizarre move by Pederson.
Backup QB Nate Sudfeld was intercepted on his second pass, fumbled the snap on his second series leading the offence. That helped set up a 42-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins that made it 20-14 midway through the fourth quarter and Washington held on from there.
With victory, Washington clinched the No 4 seed in the NFC playoffs and will now host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wild Card Weekend. Ron Rivera’s team is the first to make the playoffs with a sub-.500 record since his former team, the 2014 Carolina Panthers, won the NFC South with a 7-8-1 record.
- Washington passing: Alex Smith, 22/32, 162 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
- Rushing leader: Antonio Gibson, 19 carries, 75 yards
- Receiving leader: Cam Sims, five catches, 43 yards
Back after missing two games with a calf injury, Alex Smith improved to 5-1 as a starter this season as he completed 22 of 32 passes for 162 yards, with two touchdowns as well as two interceptions.
Eagles QB Hurts admittedly struggled against Washington’s fearsome defensive front, completing only seven of his 20 passes, as well as being picked off in the first quarter. But his two rushing scores in the second saw Philly not only back into the game but into a 14-10 lead briefly.
The Washington defence, which has held seven straight opponents under 21 points, registered three sacks, forced three turnovers and held Philadelphia to 216 yards of total offence.
After entering the game with zero points all season on its opening possession, Washington drove 91 yards in 15 plays and led 7-0 on Smith’s five-yard pass to Terry McLaurin. A 42-yard field goal by Hopkins off the back of Hurts’ interception made it 10-0 two minutes later.
The Eagles grabbed the momentum as Hurts redeemed himself with two rushing scores in the second quarter, but Washington regained the advantage by half-time with Smith picking out a leaping Logan Thomas in the endzone for a 13-yard TD and a 17-14 lead.
The second half was a hugely disappointing affair, not in keeping with what was on the line in the game. The two teams traded two punts each to start, before Smith threw his first interception.
That’s when Hurts and the Eagles had the chance to tie things up at 17-17 with a field goal only to choose not to. Sudfeld came into the game shortly after and Washington eased to victory.
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