Eagles can't overcome turnovers in shocking loss to Commanders

The one thing Eagles just couldn't overcome in shocking loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles protected the football at an NFL-record pace the first eight games of the season, and you couldn’t help wonder what this offense would look like if that stopped.

We got our answer Monday night, and it wasn’t pretty.

First eight games: Three turnovers, matching the fewest in NFL history after eight games.

Monday night: Four turnovers, matching their most in three years.

The Commanders kept giving the Eagles chances, and the Eagles kept giving them back.

In the second quarter, it was a Jalen Hurts interception on a deep ball that A.J. Brown got out-muscled on, and you never see that.

In the fourth quarter, as the Eagles were desperately trying to mount a comeback while trailing by two, there was Dallas Goedert’s fumble at the Eagles’ 33 after a short reception – and yes, the refs missed a blatant facemask that caused the fumble – and then Quez Watkins’ fumble at the Washington 15-yard-line with the Eagles trailing by five.

The final turnover didn’t affect the outcome and came as the game ended with the Eagles trying a crazy Cal-Stanford deal.

But the sum total was disaster.

“We had plenty of chances to win this game and we didn’t do it,” Lane Johnson said. “There’s nobody (else) to blame. Y’all saw it. Everybody else saw it. We just didn’t do it. We had some big plays and we let it slip through our hands.”

If any of those first three turnovers hadn’t happened, the Eagles would probably be 9-0 right now.

“We had our opportunities and we just didn’t capitalize on them,” Jason Kelce said. “A lot of mistakes. They made plays when they needed to and we didn’t. We’ve been great at ball security and taking care of the football and it seems like everybody took turns to make mistakes, myself included.

“We had big plays, we turned the ball over. It felt like the whole team had their plays here and there. I think we’re a much better team than what we put forth today."

The Eagles did force a couple turnovers, but they were still minus-two in turnover ratio after going an NFL-best plus-15 the first eight games – the 5th-highest figure after eight games in the last 20 years.

“We made a ton of mistakes,” Nick Sirianni said. “That loses you football games in this league. You turn the ball over like that, that’ll lose you the football game in this league.”

League-wide, teams committing four turnovers are 1-12 this year, 4-41 the last two years and 36-286 the last 10 years.

It’s just almost impossible to win that way.

“Very uncharacteristic mistakes,” Hurts said. “Those are things that I know that every individual in the locker room takes personally, and we’re eager to fix. …

“Every football team: Pop Warner, high school, college, NFL, they preach to protect the ball,” Hurts said. “They preach to score touchdowns. They preach all these things because it’s football 101. Fundamentals. …

“In terms of us controlling the things we can control, our ball security. Knowing the operation of what we’re supposed to do and where we’re supposed to be. And doing it with the right detail and fundamentals. That’s something that we can control. That will be an emphasis."

The most costly turnover was Watkins’ fumble with six minutes left after a 50-yard catch. It looked like the Eagles had finally figured some things out on offense, and if he doesn’t fumble, they’re 15 yards away from the go-ahead touchdown with a lot of momentum late in the fourth quarter.

“One of the bad days at the office,” A.J. Brown said. “In this league, you only get so many opportunities to win, and I think that was the last opportunity. We gave the game away so many times, and we still had opportunities.”

Watkins tumbled to the ground untouched after his catch and had just gotten back to his feet to try to add some yards when Benjamin St-Juste stripped him.

“Honestly, I was just trying to make a play,” Watkins said. “I know I didn’t get touched and I knew I had left him behind, so I just wanted to get up and get some extra yards. Honestly, I didn’t have good ball security. It is always taught and I didn’t have it and it cost us.”

That’s the kind of day it was.

“We have to control the things that we can,” Hurts said. “When we came out here today, we did not do that. We didn’t do it and today it got us. It’s very important to control the things that you can, control your ball security and knowing where the operational play is supposed to go. Just execution.

“(We had) uncharacteristic mistakes, things that we haven’t really done all year in terms of our formula for winning football games. We go out there and turn the ball over like that, not so good things happen. We have to do a better job.”