PHILADELPHIA — Last week, when a certain Jimmy Johnson said he was not yet sold on the Philadelphia Eagles, despite their 8-0 start, guard Landon Dickerson was baffled.
“Who’s this guy?” Per The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dickerson asked Jordan Mailata about his teammate. “The NASCAR driver?”
No, Mailata explained. Jimmy Johnson was the man behind two Super Bowl wins while coaching the Dallas Cowboys during the 1990s. Jimmie Johnson does not wear the helmet of another sport, and he makes his living turning left.
The confusion could have been caused by Dickerson (24). Johnson was not yet a child when he won the last Super Bowl ring. Johnson, who is now Fox commentator, still had a point. His skepticism arose from the Eagles’ tendency to score a flurry of points early in games, only to struggle later when opponents grew more familiar with and resistant to Philadelphia’s run-pass option offense led by quarterback Jalen Hurts.
This torpor was evident again in the Eagles’ first defeat of the season, a 32-21 loss to Washington on Monday night. Philadelphia took a 14-7 lead in the first 13 ½ minutes, scoring its second touchdown on a short run and a jump-pass by Hurts. Washington scored 16 more points to make it an impossible lead. Philadelphia was able to score only one more point in the third quarter. The Eagles were unable to score after scoring 133 in the second quarter for its eight previous games.
It was a collective loss, due to penalties and uncharacteristic fumbles from a team leading N.F.L. in turnover differential, an interception thrown by Hurts at the Washington 14-yard line and the inability of Philadelphia’s defense to stop a Washington offense that controlled the ball for 40 minutes and 24 seconds of the game’s 60 minutes. Philadelphia was cold, but it wasn’t the weather.
Futility continued until the game’s final play, when the desperate Eagles began lateraling the ball and Washington defensive end Casey Toohill scooped up a backward toss by Philadelphia receiver Devonta Smith near the goal line and sauntered into the end zone.
Philadelphia’s loss guaranteed that for the 50th consecutive year — since the 1972 Miami Dolphins — the N.F.L. The N.F.L. will not end a season without an undefeated team.
“We played like crap,” Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia coach, said it bluntly. “We made our own luck today and it was bad.”
Due to the scheduling challenges, the Eagles had only played their third game in 29 games. Rust, though, did not explain Philadelphia’s familiar offensive lethargy as the game progressed or Washington’s ability to control the ball with long, sustained drives.
The Commanders (5-5) converted 12 of 16 third-down plays. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke (12 of 21 for 145 yards) punctured the Eagles’ zone defense, hitting receivers as they ran freely over the middle and throwing precise passes along the sidelines.
Kicker Joey Slye made field goals of 44 yards, 58 yards, 32 yards, and 55 yards with perfect accuracy. The Commanders dominated the game with 152 rush yards. Philadelphia’s defensive line has been left susceptible by an ankle injury to its best run-stuffer, Jordan Davis, the 6-foot-6 inch, 336-pound rookie. Running has become a prescription for the Eagles’ opponents in seeking victory.
“That’s going to happen until we stop it,” Brandon Graham, defensive end
The victory continued an impressive recovery for Washington’s rookie running back, Brian Robinson, who was shot in the right leg and knee on Aug. 28 in what police said was an attempted robbery or carjacking while he was out to dinner. Robinson underwent surgery and missed the Commanders’ first three games, including a 24-8 loss to Philadelphia on Sept. 25.
Robinson ran for 86 yards Monday night on 26 pounding runs. Robinson ran for 11 yards against Philadelphia defenders in the second quarter. He then cleverly reached above the goal line to make the Commanders lead 17-14.
Even with their disjointed play, though, the Eagles had their chances to salvage Monday’s game after an 11-yard touchdown pass from Hurts to Smith drew them within 23-21 on the first play of the fourth quarter. However, the Eagles lost their last chance to win with fumbles.
Dallas Goedert, tight end, gave up a pass after the referees missed a face mask penalty. Sirianni stated that his team had to be more secure in protecting the ball. Slye made a 55-yard field kick to put Washington ahead 26-21. Philadelphia was forced to score a touchdown to win.
On Philadelphia’s next possession, receiver Quez Watkins caught a 50-yard pass over the middle, only to be stripped of the ball at Washington’s 20-yard line. An unnecessary roughness penalty by Graham on the kneeling Heinicke with 1:38 remaining kept the ball out of Philadelphia’s hands until the final frantic and distressed seconds.
“We lost it together,” Sirianni. “Offense, defense, special teams, coaching. We lost it together.”