EAGLES CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH AFTER WIN OVER WASHINGTON AND VIKINGS' LOSS TO PACKERS
Eagles fans come tumbling down after railing at players exit tunnel gave way at FedEx Field. Fans were getting high fives from players coming off the field when it gave out right at Jalen Hurts' feet. No one was injured.
LANDOVER: After the Eagles held off a resilient Washington football team, walking away with a 20-16 win and eventually a playoff berth in hand, quarterback Jalen Hurts was strolling across the field toward the tunnel and the ramp to the visitors’ locker room.
A big chunk of the tens of thousands of Eagles fans who took over FedEx Field Sunday afternoon were packed around the tunnel exit hoping to high five players coming off the field.
As Hurts approached, the crowd seemed to whip into a frenzy, hanging over the rail with the hope of getting any kind of contact with Eagles budding star.
It was obvious the second-year signal caller was taking it all as he got closer to the tunnel.
Just as he entered the exit, the railing on Hurts’ left gave way. About four or five fans came tumbling to the ground.
Hurts hopped to his right to avoid the fans who actually only fell a few feet and appeared not to be injured.
Hurts started to help some of the fans back their feet when out came the cell phones…selfie time!
In fact, to a man, every person who fell was more interested in getting a quick photo with Hurts as security picked up the railing and made sure no one was hurt.
“I'm just happy everyone was safe from it,” Hurts said after the game. “That's some crazy stuff right there. It was a real dangerous situation. I happy everyone bounced back from it.
Passionate Eagles fans. I love it.”
HURTS ALWAYS COOL REGARDLESS OF THE SITUATION
Nothing seems to phase this guy. He calls any reference to the playoffs or looking back at his or the team's achievements at “rat poison.” He stays in the moment whether it's facing an early deficit in a crucial game or when a railing collapses right in front of him dumping humans all over the ground at his feet. He just rolls with any situation and responds with the cool of a 35-year-old.
Hurts is just 23 years old.
Eagles tackle Lane Johnson was asked about the poise and calmness Hurts seems to show every week.
“He's tough He's tough minded,” Johnson said after the game. “I've still never seen him happy, really, a whole lot. Like far as enthusiastic, I guess. He takes the game very serious. Win or lose, he's always the same.
“And that's what you need for the mentality of a quarterback in this league,” Johnson continued. “You're gonna take a lot of heat for the wins. You're gonna take a lot of heat for losses. That's just the nature of the game, but what he's done this year, how he's persevered, battled through some injuries and being leader that he is. So, shout out to Jalen Hurts.”
Nick Sirianni is making history for being a rookie head coach and leading a team from a 2-5 start and make the playoffs.
Sirianni was asked if the calmness Hurts always shows has become the face of the team.
“I think that is definitely a reflection of how the quarterback is and how he was all day today and how he is in general,” Sirianni said. “And the leaders on our time like I said. All the guys, Alex Singleton, Fletcher Cox, Rodney McLeod and Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson. Those guys are calm. They’ve been in these situations before.
“What a great resource to have those guys to not only make the plays that they made throughout the entire game but have that veteran leadership like we have. Like you said, it starts with Jalen as one of our captains. You know, Darius Slay, who’s not a captain but shows that confidence and calmness throughout an entire game. T.J. Edwards. We’ve just got some great guys on this team that know what it is to put their head down and work, whether things are going good or things are going bad.”
Hurts finished 17 of 26 for 214 yards and no interceptions. He was sacked just once.
VETERAN SAFETY RODNEY McLEOD SAVED THE DAY FOR THE BIRDS
The Eagles fell behind 16-7 at the half but, like have done over the past few weeks, rallied in the second half.
The Birds reeled off 13 consecutive points to take a 20-16 lead with 2:21 left in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles defense, which came to life in the second after allowing the WFT to score on its first four possessions, looked like it was folding like a cheap suit as Heinicke led the Football Team on an eleven-play drive down to the Eagles 20-yard line with just 30 second left.
If Washington scored a touchdown, the season effectively over.
On first-and-ten, Heinicke dropped back to pass, and sensing pressure, fired a pass to the middle of the end zone looking for rookie tight end John Bates.
The pass was off target...Eagles veteran safety Rodney McLeod made a leaping playoff-clinching, shoestring catch to in the end zone to end the game.
Hurts called the interception the catch of the year. I may have been
“I wanted to make sure I closed out this game the right way,” McLeod said.
The Eagles defensive line was outstanding in the second half. Josh Sweat led the way with five total tackles, 1.5 sacks, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits. Sweat also knocked down two passes.
Linebacker T.J. Edwards recorded 13 total tackles (seven solo). Alex Singleton registered eight total tackles (four solo).
EAGLES RUSHING ATTACK WAS NOT AS POTENT AS IT HAS BEEN
As a team, the Eagles' rushing attack was not as potent as it had been in recent weeks.
The Birds ended with 118 yards on 34 carries. Obviously with Mile Sanders out and Jordan Howard trying his best, but obviously hobbled, the team had to rely on Boston Scott, who didn’t see many touches throughout the first half of the season.
Scott’s numbers weren’t great, but the third-year pro out of Louisiana Tech rushed 14 times for 47 yards and two fourth-down touchdowns from the two- and one-yard line.
Sirianni talked about being aggressive on fourth down even after their first attempt failed.
“Every game is going to be played a little different depending on who you are playing,” the coach said. “Right there in that game, I thought (QB Taylor) Heinicke started off hot. And I know I’m going to get some questions about how the defense started.
“Did you see some of the throws Heinicke was making early in that game, getting away from the pressure that we were getting? The guy was playing good, so I felt like in those scenarios, we had to be aggressive. I’m always going to look at the chart, see what it says and then I’m going to make a decision based on what I think is necessary for that game. That’s why we did what we did today with some of those fourth downs down in the redzone.
“Great job to our offensive line to be able to run it in and our backs and our quarterback and the tight ends and the receivers, everybody involved to make my decision. That’s awesome team football.”
Dallas Goedert caught six passes for 71 yards, Scott had four receptions for 39 yards and DeVonta Smith grabbed three passes for 54 yards.
Taylor Heinicke was 27 of 36 for 247 yards and an interception. He was sacked three times.
Washington’s only touchdown of the day came on its opening drive when the home team drove 67 yards on six plays ending with an eleven-yard touchdown run by Jaret Patterson.
All other Washington scores came from Joey Slye field goals. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii