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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson

BROWN, EAGLES STORM BACK TO EARN 38-31 WIN OVER WASHINGTON

Updated: Oct 30, 2023


Eagles pass rusher Haason Reddick puts a game-wrecking hit on Washington quarterback Sam Howell in the fourth quarter during the Eagles 38-31 win over the Commanders. Photo by Jessie Garber.

LANDOVER: When it comes to playing the Washington NFL franchise, the Eagles never make it easy.


The Birds first meeting in 2023 at the Linc went to overtime before the Eagles chalking up the win.


In the rematch on Sunday, the Eagles spotted the Commanders 14-3 lead early in the second quarter.


But the Birds (7-1) survived two turnovers inside the Washington five-yard line and rallied to score 28 points in the second half, came up with two turnovers of their own and walk away from FedEx Field with 38-31 win over the Commanders.



Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown talks to reporters after setting an NFL record for games recording at least 125 receiving yards (six) . Photo by Al Thompson

Jalen Hurts overall was outstanding going 29 for 38 for 319 yards, four touchdown passes, no interceptions, one fumble and a quarterback rating of 135.7. He was sacked twice.


The Eagles defense struggled all afternoon to try and handle quarterback Sam Howell, who seemed one-step ahead of the Eagles pass rush and secondary.


The second-year signal-caller was brilliant in defeat going 39 of 52 for 397 yards, hitting four touchdown passes.


Howell threw a crucial interception late in the fourth quarter and was sacked once.

The former North Carolina star talked about playing well but coming up short against the Eagles twice this year.


“Yeah, it’s very disappointing,” Howell said. “Obviously both games against these guys, we felt like they were games that we could have won. I think we’re just right there. But at the end of the day, we let another one slip away from us and we just got to come back and regroup. Stay positive and just take it one game at a time and move on to next week.”


The first quarter ended with the home team leading 7-3. The Commanders scored on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Howell to Terry McLaurin.


Midway through the second quarter, the Eagles used nine good-looking plays to march down to the Washington three-yard line.


Looking for another Kenneth Gainwell touchdown like he scored the week before against Miami, Hurts handed off to the third-year back out of Memphis; He was caught two yards behind the line of scrimmage then fumbled.



Eagles WR A.J. Brown hauls in one of his eight catches for 130 yards and two TDs. Photo by Jesse Garber.

The fumble was caused by Kamren Curl and recovered by Phidarian Mathis at seven-yard line.

The Eagles continued to have no answer for Howell and the Commanders offense.

The Birds caught a break when Washington’s drive stalled at the Eagles 40-yard line.


The Commanders went for it in fourth down.


James Bradberry broke up a pass intended for Terry McLaurin and the Eagle took over 1:38 left in the first half.


The Birds pulled off a 65-yard, seven-play drive that made the score 14-10. A.J. Brown scored on a 16-yard circus catch that would be impossible to anyone but him. There was just 38 seconds left in the half.


That karma was thrown into the Potomac River when Washington pulled off an amazing five-play, 32-yard drive that ended with a 61-yard field goal by Joey Slye as time expired.

The Eagles offense was erratic for the entire first half with no ground game to speak of.

The six-yard rushing total in the first half was the worst in eight years.



Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 319 yards and four touchdowns. He fumbled on the goal line trying to execute the "Brotherly Shove." Photo by Jesse Garber.

THINGS GOT WORSE BEFORE THEY GOT BETTER

It actually got worse as the third quarter started. The Eagles got the ball to start the second half.


The Birds drive was chugging along, and then a 32-yard pass interference call on Washington cornerback Benjamin St.-Juste on a pass from Hurts to Brown gave the Eagles the ball to the Washington one-yard-line.


The whole stadium knew what was coming next.


The “Brotherly Shove” for the first time not only didn’t work, Hurts fumbled the snap and the Commanders Kendell Fuller recovered the loose ball at the one.


It was the second turnover of the game for the Birds.


Hurts admitted he caused the turnover.


“[I] wasn’t able to get the snap” Hurts said. “I didn’t secure the ball well enough and that’s what happened.”


Center Jason Kelce said he was unaware the ball came loose and was recovered by Washington.


“I thought we scored,” Kelce said. “I felt like we got the push and then all of a sudden it went back. Yeah, I don’t know. We talked about it. It felt like, I don’t want to get into it but it sounded like we needed to clean up the operation a little bit to prevent that from happening. But you know, I think we’ve run that play enough that we shouldn’t have that situation occur.”


On the ensuing drive that started at their own one-yard line, it appeared the Commanders may start a long drive after advancing the ball to their own 19.


But Haason Reddick did his game-wrecker thing causing an intentional ground call on Howell. That pretty much ended the drive and forced Washington to punt.


Hurts and company got the ball back on their 49-yard line after a 25-yard return by Britain Covey


The Eagles went on a 51-yard drive that ended with a 25-yard touchdown to Brown.


The score now was 17-17.


Could the Eagles get another stop?


Everything over the middle is working for Commanders...simple slant beats Reed Blankenship...24-17 Washington.


But Hurts led the Eagles to two quick scores. The first was a 38-yard touchdown pass from Hurts to a wide open DeVonta Smith.


The second touchdown came after a Reed Blankenship interception of Howell at the Commanders 32-yard line.


The second-year safety out of Middle Tennessee State returned the ball to the Washington seven-yard line.


Two plays later, Hurts hit newcomer Julio Jones over the middle in the end zone, and suddenly the score was 31-24 in the visitors' favor.


Swift would make the score 38-24 after Reddick forced a Howell fumble on fourth down at their own 16-yard-line. Swift scored on a seven-yard run with 1:50 left in the fourth.


Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell lit up the Eagles secondary for 397 yards passing and four TD passes. Photo by Jesse Garber

A too-little-too-late score by Washington; a 26-yard pass to Jamison Crowder from Howell with just over a minute left make the final score 38-31.


BROWN SETS NFL RECEIVING RECORD

Almost lost in the shootout, Brown set an NFL record for recording at least 125 receiving yards for six consecutive games. He finished with eight catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns.


Brown was asked about how he felt about the achievement.


“I really haven’t had time to really digest what happened, more importantly, I’m just so happy that we go this win,” Brown said after the game. ”It really wasn’t going our way at first, but we found a way. I thought that was huge for this team.”


He was also asked…where does the one-handed catch in the second quarter rank among the pantheon of his great catches?


“That’s for everybody else to decide,” Brown said. “We did that (play) in practice on Friday.”

It was the same corner and everything, so my teammates were like, ‘I’m not surprised, I’m not surprised.’ I’m like ‘It wasn’t in a game though, so.”



Eagles safety Reed Blankenship rejoices after his fourth-quarter interception helped the Eagles take the lead for good. Photo by Jesse Garber.

BLANKENSHIP – BURNED EARLIER IN THE GAME – REFLECTS ON HIS INTERCEPTION – MORE TEAM POST-GAME QUOTES

The 24-year-old safety, who returned after missing two games due to a rib injury, was asked if this kind of game requires the grind players talk about frequently.


“Absolutely,” Blankenship said. “One of our main things is belief. And honestly, I take this game kind of personal. I didn’t get a lot of my job done today. But at the end of the day, you have to go back and fix your mistakes. A win is a win. I believe in everyone else around me, on offense and defense. ‘Got the job done and that’s all that matters.”


Blankenship was asked why he felt like he didn’t get the job done despite a game-changing interception with the game on the line.


He was the defender covering tight end Logan Thomas on a seven-yard slant touchdown pass that gave the Commanders a 24-17 lead with 12:06 left in the fourth quarter.


“Cause I didn’t feel like I got my job done,” Blankenship said. “It could have been a lot cleaner at the back end. I’m going to take responsibility for it and get it fixed.”


Lane Johnson said the same thing and was glad to grab the win.


“Whatever could go wrong went wrong today,” Johnson said. “But we battled and…a win’s a win. This was a very important game for us, a division opponent. It could have gone the other way.”


Head coach Nick Siranni admitted his team was not at the top of their game.

“That’s our job to make sure that we’re correcting the mistakes, that we’re not making the same mistakes,” Sirianni said. “The turnovers…we’ve got to cut that out. That’s big right there.


“It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t pretty at all. This is the National Football League. It’s tough to win games. We came into a road game and ending up winning. But we have a lot of work to do to make sure we are continuing to climb.”


Running back D’Andre Swift was asked about the decline of the numbers in the running game. The fourth-year pro rushed 16 times for 57 yards and a TD. The team rushed 22 times for just a net 59 yards.


Sunday was the lowest number of yards rushing this season.


Does he know the reason for the low production?


“Not me personally, no” Swift said. “You have to look at the tape. We did whatever we had to do to get the win.” *


Email Al Thompson at al.thompson@footballstories.com

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