EAGLES RIDE JAKE ELLIOTT'S FOOT TO A 4-0 START
The Eagles veteran kicker booted a 54-yard field goal in overtime to lift the Birds to a 34-31 win and remain unbeaten
The phrase “a game of inches” doesn’t quite cut if you try to describe the sheer excitement and anxiety that took place during the Eagles 34-31 overtime win over the Washington Commanders (2-2) at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday afternoon.
The Birds are now 4-0 on the still-young season.
Eagles Pro Bowl-caliber place kicker Jake Elliott sealed the victory for the Eagles (4-0) when he hit a 54-yard field goal with 4:28 left in overtime. It was Elliot’s fourth field goal of the afternoon and his thirteenth (out of 14 attempts) after four games.
“He’s goat-en’,” Eagles corner Darius Slay said with a look of awe in on his face. “You know what I’m saying? I tell Jake all the time…you THE GOAT…best athlete on the team…well, second best…because I’m the best. He’s second best cause he can’t beat me in basketball…well, he can beat me in golf.” Second best…but he’s a dog. We already knew what time it was…we got it close enough for him…we like…aye…we good, we won. Jake kicking? We good…we good.”
Elliott was four of four on the day. The former Memphis standout has hit as far away as 61 yards (Minnesota) this season. If he is not the All Pro kicker this year, there should be an investigation.
Wide receiver DeVonta Smith was asked about Elliott’s performance…he playfully replied, “Chicken Little, the way he came through…that’s just what I call him.”
Realizing that most of the people at his locker did not know the Chicken Little story where Chicken Little comes through in a big baseball game to help his team win…he simply stated what every player in the Eagles locker room believes
“We always have faith in Jake,” Smith said. “Once I caught the last pass, I already knew…Jake is going to come out here and do what he do.”
Quarterback Jalen Hurts chimed in on Elliott after the game.
"Jake, he showed up big time, Hurts said. "Y’all hate sending him on the field, but he showed up and made the game-winning field goal for the team. Those moments like that, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a game where a guy has kicked the game-winner, and I’ve had to witness that in my career. These are all new emotions on different levels, but winning is the main thing. So, you guys assess whatever it is, but the main thing is just to continue to grow. As long as we’re doing that, I’m confident we’re in a good place.”
EAGLES ENDURE A ROCKY START
The Eagles’ first NFC East battle did not start the way they had it planned. Winners of the coin toss, the Birds gave the ball to Washington who promptly executed a 75-yard drive on 14 plays, taking up 7:08 minutes and ending with a Curtis Samuel one-yard run...7-0 Washington.
So much for idea that the Commanders O-line sucks.
Eagles did answer with their own 75-yard drive on 12 plays ending with a D'Andre Swift scores from the five, 7-7 is the score.
Washington followed right up with another drive marching down the field on a seven-play, 75 yard drive. It ended with Terry McLaurin recovering a fumble in the end zone after James Bradberry forced a fumble by Brian Robinson at the one-yard-line. He had rushed to the left for no gain, then fumbled…McLaurin recovered the fumble in the end some to make the score 14-7, visitors.
The Eagles managed to make the score 17-10 at the half on an Elliott 41-yard field goal as time expired.
Hurts and the offense came out in the second half and proceeded to run off 14 answered points to take a 24-17 lead with 14:15 left in the fourth quarter.
One of the scores was a brilliant catch-and-run by A.J. Brown that went 59 yards to the end zone.
Brown finished with nine catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns
Robinson would tie the game 24-24 with a 15-yard touchdown run with 8:01 left in the fourth.
The Eagles seemed on their way to a regular time win when Hurts hit A.J. Brown with a 28-yard touchdown pass with 1:43 left in the fourth. But a taunting penalty on Brown after the score (stuck the ball into the crotch of the seated defender Emmanuel Forbes, Jr.)
The 15-yard penalty forced Elliott to kick off from the Eagles 20-yard line. Antonio Gibson caught the ball at the Washington seven-yard line and returned the ball to their 36-yard line.
Commanders quarterback Sam Howell, who had given all the Eagles defense it could handle all day, marched his team 64 yards on ten plays in just 1:36 minutes, hitting Jahan Dotson with a 10-yard strike with three Eagles defenders around him to send the game into overtime.
The Commanders won the toss but were held to a three-and-out and forced to punt.
It took ten plays, but Hurts led the Eagles on a 23-yard drive. It turned out to be all the yards Elliott needed to keep the Birds undefeated.
Hurts was 25 of 37 for 319 yards, two touchdown passes, no interceptions and QB rating of 112.3. The 25-year-old was sacked three times. Hurts rushed nine times for 34 yards.
Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio used his stars on the defensive line to hold the Birds to just 104 yards rushing on 27 carries.
Swift came back to earth a little bit gaining 56 yards on 14 carries including a five-yard touchdown run in the first quarter
Howell showed Eagles fans why the Commanders coaching staff wanted him as a starter.
The fifth round draft pick out of North Carolina in 2022 was 29 of 41 for 291 yards, a touchdown pass, no interceptions. He was sacked five times.
The Commanders just about matched the Birds on the ground with 107 yards on 28 carries. Brian
Robinson, Jr. led the way with 45 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.
Smith, who finished with seven catches for 78 yards, said the Eagles owe a lot of their success to sticking with each other, even after mistakes.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Smith said. ‘Having each other’s back, being able to overcome some adversity.”
DEFENSE HAD ITS UPS AND DOWNS
Linebacker Nicholas Morrow, in his first season with the Eagles, finished with 11 tackles (10 solo), three sacks, three quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
The 28-year-old was asked if he takes the knocks the Eagles get on defense about the a reported less-than-stellar linebacker room and teams throwing over middle intentionally, to exploit a perceived weakness on the Birds side of the ball to heart?
“No,” the six-year veteran out of Greenville University said without hesitating. “No matter what it is, every game is the same, same approach. It doesn’t change whether the people on the outside are saying this or that…I just go and approach the game the same way I always approach it.
“I don’t think you can go up or down depending on what people are saying about you, you’ve just got to go play ball. That’s just how it is. You never know what’s going to happen when you step on the field. Go out, prepare and play every snap.”
Morrow complimented the Commanders offense, especially their last drive in regulation.
“I think they did a good job of finding certain matchups,” Morrow said. “Really…the whole fourth quarter, especially on third down, they did a good job of finding matchups. We have to go back and look at tape and see how we can find a disguise, technique...whatever we can do to clean it up.”
Cornerback Darius Slay said he never doubted the Birds were going to pull the game out.
“We got great leaders,” Slay said. “We told the offense, if we get the stop (in overtime), we know what y’all going do. So we had to get the stop for them guys. We knew we were going to score points. We got it, and our boys scored.” *
Email Al Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org