The Washington Commanders were close to pulling off another upset at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday for the second consecutive season. Sadly for Washington, the Philadelphia Eagles made a 54-yard field goal overtime to give the Commanders their second loss of the season.
Here’s what we learned from Washington’s heartbreaking loss to the Eagles on Sunday.
Sam Howell went toe-to-toe with Jalen Hurts
Jalen Hurts and the Eagles came away with the win Sunday, but Commanders QB Sam Howell toe-to-toe with Hurts from start to finish. It was an impressive performance from Howell in a losing effort. Howell faced elite defenses in back-to-back weeks. He struggled last week but rose to the occasion against the Eagles. We don’t know what it means moving forward. Howell must continue to put together these types of performances weekly.
Despite a losing effort, it was a good day for Sam Howell.
Eric Bieniemy showed everyone his version of the offense
Eric Bieniemy looked relaxed last week when talking about Washington’s loss to the Bills. Bieniemy was clear about what needed to happen: “My job is to clean up the s–t, and we continue moving forward.”
Bieniemy went to work last week, and it looked like a different offense. Yes, there were sacks, but it was nothing like it was vs. the Bills. Everyone thought Bieniemy needed to run the ball against the Eagles. Stop throwing the ball as much. Bieniemy answered the call, designing an offense reliant on Howell getting rid of the ball quickly, mixed with the running game. It worked. The Commanders scored 31 points against a dominant defense. Sunday’s offense is likely closer to Bieniemy’s complete vision for the West Coast offense.
Bravo, Mr. Bieniemy.
Rivera not going for win
Was Rivera right or wrong in kicking the extra point at the end of regulation? It depends on who you ask. In the old days, there’s no question you play for overtime. In this day and age of analytics, the game has changed. Several coaches would’ve gone for the win. Rivera was not necessarily wrong in his decision. While he said he thought his team was gassed, perhaps he was confident that if they got to overtime, his team could do it again.
But, should he have attempted the two-point conversion? You had the Eagles on their heels after a long drive. Don’t you like your chances of getting those two yards better than driving the field again? After all, his nickname is “Riverboat Ron.” It will be interesting to see how Rivera handles a similar situation in the future.
What’s going on with the defense? And can we please have those on commentary to stop referring to this group as elite? The Commanders have allowed over 30 points in three consecutive weeks. Sure, two of those teams were Buffalo and Philadelphia, but one was Denver. So much focus was on the offensive issues last week that no one wanted to talk about the defense. It’s time to talk about the defense.
The defensive line isn’t taking over games. Sure, they did against an overmatched Denver offensive line, but a line that is supposed to be a team strength and among the NFL’s best has looked average at times over the past two games. The defensive line played well in the first half, but the Eagles took over in the third quarter. From that moment forward, the offense kept Washington in the game.
In good news, Chase Young had another sack; he has 2.5 on the season.
Jonathan Allen said it last week against the Bills: The defensive line needs to play better. It’s time for the defense to resemble a top-10 unit if Washington is to make a playoff run later this season. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio needs to do better, too.
Officiating was all over the place in this game. And it hurt both teams. However, some plays stood out late that went against the Commanders. One, the “tush push,” where left guard Landon Dickerson moved before the snap on a critical fourth-and-1 play. It wasn’t called, and the play resulted in a first down. Judge for yourself:
The officials missed a clear false-start by the Left Guard on the 4th and 1 Tush Push.
After McLaurin's catch ruled OOB, if the Eagles go on to win this game, remember this play. pic.twitter.com/CGVapuJVWk
— Chad Ryan (@ChadwikoTWW) October 1, 2023
Then there was this on third down in overtime, where Howell found Terry McLaurin for an apparent catch, but officials ruled it out of bounds.
Again, judge for yourself:
DID TERRY MCLAURIN GET HIS FEET IN?🤯 pic.twitter.com/wah3mYIgvm
— Arye Pulli (@AryePulli) October 1, 2023
This was ruled out of bounds originally, which is likely why the call wasn’t overturned.
There were multiple bad calls against both teams in the game, another clear indication of how the NFL needs to let these teams play instead of calling everything. On Sunday, officials called 18 penalties.