It’s one thing to sneak up on someone and take them by surprise. It’s another when they see you coming and still can’t stop you.
Sunday’s 24-8 annihilation of the Washington Commanders in Philly South (DC, not to be confused with South Philly) was a revelation. Just six days after crushing the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football, the Eagles pulverized their old quarterback and once again featured a breathtaking aerial performance from Jalen Hurts and his receivers in running up a 24-0 halftime lead over their bewildered opponent.
Washington had an extra day to prepare for the Eagles, and still, they couldn’t stop them.
Sunday’s victory in the nation’s capital was more impressive than their prime time affair against Minnesota simply because there was no way the Eagles could have snuck up on their divisional rivals. Washington, like the rest of the nation, saw Philadelphia dominate the Vikings six days earlier and still seemed unprepared for the onslaught.
No one saw Jalen Hurts completing 83.9% of his passes, throwing for 333 yards, and adding another 57 on the ground with three combined TDs in his 24-7 win over Minnesota, a game not nearly as close as the score indicates. No one expected the Eagles to outgain the Vikings 486-264 or put up 323 yards through the air, compared to Minnesota’s 202.
It was a breathtaking performance that surprised the entire NFL and launched a week of conversations touting the Eagles’ as a force in the NFC, and Hurts as an MVP favorite.
It would have been easy for players to read the newspaper clippings, smell themselves, and overlook the Commanders this week. It’s happened before. It would have been understandable for Hurts to stumble one week after his Week 2 performance (which, let’s be honest, most of us weren’t sure was for real or not) and for the defense to take a step backward on a short week. Instead, Hurts put up 340 passing yards on 22 of 35 passing and three touchdowns through the air, with a passer rating of 123.5 that bested Week 2’s 108.7.
While the offense got off to a slower start and didn’t score in the second half for the second straight week, they exploded for 24 2nd-quarter points and watched as the defense suffocated Wentz and the Washington offense all game long.
Against Minnesota, Jonathan Gannon’s unit got most of their pressure on Kurt Cousins with the blitz. Yesterday, the front four put on a show, sacking Wentz nine times, with only two of those coming when the Eagles sent an extra man. The other seven came with pressure from the defensive line alone. Brandon Graham (2.5), Haason Reddick (1.5), Fletcher Cox (1.5), Josh Sweat (1.5) and Javon Hargrave (1.0) all had sacks, as did linebacker T.J. Edwards. The D-Line was eating their lunch from start to finish.
It’s fairly common for an up-and-coming team to suffer a letdown after a big prime time win. Suddenly, you’re no longer flying under the radar. Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd are
telling screaming to everyone how good you are. Expectations are raised. Head coaches preach about ignoring the hype and maintaining that “one-game-at-a-time” mentality, but it’s easier said than done. Football players are human beings and it’s easy to feel good about yourself and take your foot off the gas after a win like the one the Eagles had against the Vikings.
The pessimists almost certainly envisioned their former QB, Carson Wentz, with revenge crackling in his mind, playing the game of his life against his old pals. Gannon’s defense slammed the door on that notion from the opening kickoff and glued it shut. Eventually, DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert and Hurts found their stride and showed Monday night’s offensive explosion was no fluke.
The truly great teams push all that stuff to the side, buckle down, and tackle the next challenge with a chip on their shoulders, striving for a perfection that cannot be reached.
For the Eagles, it all comes down to the quarterback.
Jalen Hurts’ leadership qualities are well documented. If there was a ever a player who would refuse to let the MVP talk get to his head, it was Hurts and, sure enough, it appeared he blocked out the noise and played with the confidence and competence of a true franchise QB. It was perhaps an even finer performance than Monday night’s opus, all things considered.
Make no mistake, the Eagles were not perfect on Sunday. The offense stalled at times and the special teams were shaky. There are things to clean up. But head coach Nick Sirianni, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon had their team ready to play on Sunday, and they performed like a true Super Bowl contender.
After a week of immense hype, the Eagles utterly dominated the Commanders in their most impressive win of the 2022 season.