It took 10 weeks of the NFL season, but someone finally cracked the code and figured out how to beat the previously 8-0 Philadelphia Eagles. Not many expected Taylor Heinicke and the Washington Commanders to be the culprits, but this was no fluke.
The Commanders played keep-away from Jalen Hurts by rushing the ball 49 times and bleeding the clock whenever possible. Washington dominated the time of possession and took Philadelphia out of its comfort zone on its way to a 32-21 upset victory.
Now, the rest of the NFL possesses the blueprint on how to beat this Eagles team.
The Commanders executed a flawless game plan against the Eagles
Eagles fans had to have known the undefeated dream was going to end at some point, but a home primetime game against the Commanders didn’t feel like a realistic spot for it. Well, that’s why they play the games.
Ron Rivera and Co. drew up the perfect game plan on both sides of the ball Monday night, and it all started with the running game. If you look at Philadelphia’s statistical profile, the one glaring weakness you’ll find is the ability to defend the run. The Eagles rank 25th in the NFL in yards per carry allowed (4.7) this season.
So, even though the Commanders aren’t especially efficient at running the ball, they chose to pound the rock all night. Washington ran the ball 49 times and attempted just 29 passes in the game. The offense was able to pick up three, four, and five yards a pop on early downs to set up short third-down distances, and it took advantage by converting 12 of its 21 third downs.
That methodical offensive strategy led to lengthy, time-consuming drives all game. The Commanders ripped off scoring drives of 13, 12, 16, eight, and 14 plays throughout the night, which bled the clock and kept the ball out of Hurts’ hands. That’s precisely what Philadelphia’s offense has done so well this season. The Eagles entered this game with the second-best time-of-possession average in the NFL (32:13 per game), but they left losing the possession battle to Washington, 40:24-19:36.
Philly has also been so dominant this season because it coughed up a league-low three turnovers through the first nine weeks of the season. On Monday night, the Commanders’ defense forced four turnovers and committed just two.
On the defensive side of the ball, Washington did a stellar job of taking A.J. Brown out of the game. The star WR finished with just one catch for seven yards on four targets. The Eagles were still able to move the ball effectively, but those explosive plays courtesy of Brown were nowhere to be found.
Add it all up, and you get a shocking upset.
The blueprint is out on how to beat the Eagles
The Commanders just drew up the ultimate blueprint on how to beat this talented Eagles team. Here’s how it looks and how Washington was able to check every box Monday night:
- Attack the Eagles defense between the tackles on early downs: Commanders 49 rush attempts for 152 yards and two touchdowns
- Win the time of possession: Commanders 40:24, Eagles 19:36
- Win the turnover battle: Commanders two, Eagles four
- Convert third downs at a high rate: Commanders 12-21 (1-1 on fourth down)
- Limit Jalen Hurts in the running game: Hurts six carries for 28 yards and a touchdown
- Make anyone but A.J. Brown beat you in the passing game: Brown one catch for seven yards on four targets
- Simple, no mistakes!: Joey Slye 4-4 on field-goal attempts (32, 44, 55, 58), 2-2 on extra-point attempts
The Commanders played nearly the perfect game on Monday night, and the Eagles still would’ve had a chance to win in the final minute if Brandon Graham hadn’t hit Heinicke late on the final drive. Beating this Philadelphia team is a tall task, but Washington just proved it’s not impossible.
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