Washington rallied in second half to upset Eagles 27-17
The Washington Football Team rallied behind their defense and overcame a flat start on offense to score 27 unanswered points for a come from behind victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the season opener at FedEx Field on Sunday.
Washington entered Week One as heavy home underdogs to their NFC East division rivals who have had their roster ravaged by injuries over the last month and for almost the entire first half they played like the inferior team and found themselves staring up at a 17-0 deficit.
It wasn’t until fourth-year corner Fabian Moreau picked off Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz with just under two minutes to go until halftime that the offense was able to show some signs of life.
Second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins led a five-play scoring drive that cover 45 yards in 57 seconds and was capped off by a short touchdown toss to tight end Logan Thomas, cutting Philadelphia’s lead to just 10 points and giving them some momentum to feed off of heading into the locker room.
The Eagles received the second-half kickoff and the two teams traded back to back punts to open the third quarter but the second interception that was thrown by Wentz, this time hauled in by second-year corner Jimmy Moreland, set up Washington’s offense with a short field and a jolt of energy that they used to march 20 yards to pay dirt where veteran running back Peyton Barber scored his first of two touchdowns on the day to cut the visitors’ lead to just a field goal’s difference.
From then on it was all burgundy and gold as Washington’s defensive line stacked with first-rounders across the board completely took over the game. Led by rookie second overall pick Chase Young, they finally took advantage of an Eagles offensive line that was without three of their starting offensive linemen from 2019 when they were regarded as one of the league’s best.
Washington sacked Wentz a whopping eight times on Sunday and shut out Philadelphia’s offense in the entire second half as their offensive counterparts on the other side of the ball finally found their footing and began feeding off the momentum they were stockpiling with each defense stop that was as impressive and physical as the last.
After the Eagles turned the ball over on downs late in the third quarter, Washington was able to knot the game up at 17-17 even with a short drive that ended with a 38-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal to close out the period heading into the fourth and final stanza.
Washington’s defense didn’t let up in the fourth quarter and their offense stayed in a steady rhythm. Their pass rush notched their last two sacks of the game including a strip-sack Young and defensive tackle Daron Payne on the first play on their second to last drive of the game to effectively shutting the door on any lingering hope of a pulling off a comeback of their own.
Nobody expects much out of the Washington Football Team in 2020 but that didn’t stop them from persevering through a rough start to their season opener to deliver Head Coach Ron Rivera, who is currently battling skin cancer, his first win at the helm of the franchise that has had its reputation dragged through the mud this summer with the first-year head coach serving as the unofficial spokesman for the brunt of it.
“They were down, 17-0, and they responded, and they just kept fighting and stuck to it,” Rivera said. “And it just shows what these guys are capable of.”
Washington avenged their collapse from last year’s season opener when they got out to a 17-0 lead of their own over the Eagles on the road before ultimately losing 32-27. Haskins delivered a fiery speech at halftime reminding his team and those that were around in 2019 what feeling was like and how they were going to flip the script on Philadelphia this time around.
“Pretty much the moral of the speech was, ‘We’re home, we’re the home team. They’re the visitors. There’s no reason why we should be feeling like the little bro in a sense,'” said Haskins following the game. “For me, it was find a way to win. They beat us last year at their place, and this is our house and we’re killing ourselves. It was nothing that they did that really stopped us, so we just got to keep finding ways to win every game.”
Up next for Washington will be a road trip to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals who pulled off the biggest upset of opening weekend when they went into Santa Clara and came away with a 24-20 victory over the reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers.
Their pass rush will have to be on their ‘A’ game from start to finish against the Cardinals because second-year quarterback Kyler Murray was able to elude and outpace the Niners ferocious front for 91 yards and a touchdown with his legs so corralling him for sacks will be far from a walk in a park. Haskins will have his hands full on the offensive side as well going up against an Arizona secondary that features Pro Bowl defensive backs Patrick Peterson at cornerback and Budda Baker at safety.