The Washington Commanders outplayed the Eagles for most of Monday Night Football and duly gave their NFC East rivals their first loss of the season.
Key to the Washington win was their rushing attack and they ran the ball down the throat of Philadelphia 47 times, averaging over three yards a carry. It kept Jalen Hurts and his offence sitting on the sideline for long periods and when Taylor Heinicke needed to convert third downs he routinely found his best receivers, particularly Terry McLaurin who had 128 receiving yards on the night.
The Eagles got off to a terrific start when Josh Sweat knocked the ball out of Heinicke’s hands and two plays later, Jalen Hurts broke the plane for an early touchdown for the home side.
The Commanders answered back, working the ball downfield on a 13-play drive, which included three third down conversions, and Antonio Gibson ran in from two yards to tie the game.
Before the end of the first quarter the Eagles were seven ahead once again when Hurts faked a run and then passed over the defensive line to Dallas Goedert for another six-pointer as this contest threatened to turn into a shootout.
Rookie Derrick Forrest picked off Jalen Hurts to give the Commanders possession and 16 plays and 86 yard yards later, Brian Robinson Jr managed to break the plane from short yardage to give the Commanders the lead. Washington’s plan of keeping Hurts off the field was working and their 51 plays in the first half set a new NFL record this season.
It left the Eagles trailing at half time for the first time all year.
In the third quarter, Heineke found McLaurin for 42 yards for the biggest play of the night, but a redzone stop on third down left Slye to kick Washington nine points ahead.
On the first play of the fourth quarter Hurts found Devonta Smith who brushed off a tackle and ran into the endzone. It was a birthday TD for the former Heisman winner and left only two points separating the sides.
CJ Garner Johnson then got his sixth interception of the season when Heinicke underthrew a deep ball to McLaurin. Soon after Washington forced a Goedert fumble and Slye added a 55-yard field goal to extend the lead to five.
Then came the most important play of the game. Quez Watkins was found over the top but as he got to his feet Benjamin St Juste knocked the ball out and the rookie safety Forrest collected his second turnover of the night.
By the time Hurts got the ball back there were 3.30 left on the clock but they couldn’t convert a first down. The Eagles were about to get the ball back when Heinicke took a knee on third down and Brandon Graham collided into the quarterback to give the visiting team another set of downs.
The Eagles did get a last play with a five seconds left. It led to a mis-placed lateral and Casey Toohlill scooped and scored from a yard out to add some gloss to a close fought contest.
The Commanders are now 5-5 for the season, while the Eagles stay top seeds of the NFC alongside the Vikings with a record of 8-1.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are pulling strings at the death of the trade deadline, with a new addition in the secondary after trading for William Jackson III, from the Washington Commanders.
William Jackson III stats: Position: Corner-back, Solo Tackles: 15, Interceptions: 0, Pass Deflections: 2, PFF Grade – 49.6
Steelers Receive: William Jackson III and a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2025
Commanders Receive: conditional sixth-round draft pick in 2025
Steelers POV: After the trade of Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh hopped straight back into action as they traded for William Jackson III.
Only a year out from his three-year $40 million contract in the nation’s capital, Jackson and Washington decided to part ways due to a scheme difference. Wanting to play more man coverage, Jackson will have the chance to do so on a talented Steelers’ defence.
Jackson played his best ball when at the Cincinnati Bengals during the first four years of his career. The former first-round pick in 2016 then moved to Washington where things didn’t quite work out.
He now finds himself on an aggressive Steelers defence that will suit his playing-style and he looks to be the lock-down corner he formerly was.
Commanders POV: Reports came earlier in the day that if Jackson wasn’t dealt before the trade deadline, then he would be released from Washington.
The Commanders were able to find a trade partner at the end, to pick up some draft capital and move on from their big free agent signing only a year ago.
Overall, things didn’t work out for the corner-back in the capital city but they were able to get some compensation, which is always a plus. Their defence has been improving as the season has gone on and one less distraction will only improve that.
While the contract they gave to Jackson was in hindsight, a bad decision, it shows strong decision making from the front office to move on from the deal instead of playing out a bad hand.
For a contest that was 3-0 at half time, this was decent fare between two of the poorer NFL sides so far this season.
It was competitive throughout, with Justin Fields showing flashes of his talent as did the Commanders D-line still without Chase Young, which did well to put the young QB under pressure, getting sacks and an important first quarter redzone turnover when Jonathon Allen caught the ball after it had deflected into the air from the helmet of his teammate Efe Obada.
In the third quarter, Chicago started to get their run game going and Fields threw one of the best touchdowns for his career so far finding Dante Pettis in the corner of the end zone while under pressure at midfield.
Heading into the final quarter a second Joey Slye kick had the scores 6-7.
Velus Jones Jr made a significant mistake when he failed to catch a punt and it gave the Commanders possession inside 10 yards. Two runs later and Brian Robinson Jr got the first touchdown of his career, less than two months since he was shot twice in a car-jacking. A missed two-point attempt saw five points separating the sides.
Fields got possession with just under two minutes remaining. By the time, he got to midfield he took off left on a scramble and with no options available, he took off on a run to bring the Bears down to five yards out with a first and goal.
The Commanders defence did well to keep them out and on fourth down, Fields threw to Darnell Mooney who came down with the ball, but only after he had been pushed out of the endzone by corner-back Benjamin St-Juste for a Washington win.
A tough loss for the Bears but on a good note, Fields looked the best player on Soldier Field last night.
The Bears offence has been nothing short of terrible this season. They could potentially have their franchise quarterback in place, but with no support around him there have been struggles.
The running game isn’t all that bad with Khalil Herbert having 328 rushing yards on the year at 5.9 yards per carry, but the passing game is what has been a tough watch. Fields is by far the most sacked quarterback in the league with a poor offensive line protecting him. Combined with receivers, most of whom would struggle to make another roster in the league, has led to the fewest total passing yards and passing yards per game in the league.
But despites these internal issues, the Bears are coming off their best offensive performance to date when they scored 22 points against the Vikings. Now, granted they lost the game, but from an offensive perspective it was a big improvement on what we had seeing of late.
Washignton is having an underwhelming season to say the least. With expectations of pushing for playoffs after their Week 1 win when Jahan Dotson hit the scene, the wheels have started to fall off with a four-game losing streak.
Carson Wentz was traded to the Commanders this past off-season and hasn’t met the heights of what Ron Rivera and the fans would have wanted. In classic Wentz fashion he has the talent to make spectacular plays, but his lack of consistency means every good play is followed soon after vwith a horrific play.
On a positive note Washington has got rookie Brain Robinson back, with a three-headed rushing attack monster in the works. Last week Robinson, Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic all split snaps across the game as Washington tried to put them in positions to take advantage of what the opposing defence showed. They seem to have a few weapons to turn this ship back around towards the playoffs, but does something need to change?
Head coach Ron Rivera was asked that question last week, his response. “It’s something that we have to address if it gets to that point, and we’re getting close,” the coach told NBC Sports Washington.
That question was asked prior to their matchup against the Titans which they went on to loss. So if they fall to the Bears and drop to 1-5 on the season, could that be the final straw for Rivera to start making changes?
Now it’s looking like this game could be another sluggish offence affair, much to the same as last Thursday Night Football. In similar fashion both teams have struggled to get things working on offence whilst being average on defence.
On paper I like this Bears team better. In my opinion, they have the better out-and-out quarterback and have starting corner Jaylon Johnson back, with N’keal Harry expected to make his debut in Chicago. Not to mention Washington are beaten up and missing some starters.
But when it comes to match-ups I like the chances of this Washington side. Both teams are going to want to rely heavily on the run and Washington looks in better shape to stop that. With this new look rushing attack, Tennessee did a good job in stopping it last week, but the Bears are far weaker allowing 170 rushing yards per game for 31st in the league.
Wentz up to date has fared well on Thursday Night Football and if their defences can keep heading in the right direction they should be able to get an away win on prime time.