Three‌ takeaways from the WFT’s failed last-second comeback against the Eagles

By Gibson Hirt

When Dan Synder bought the Washington football franchise in 2000, the franchise had won three Super Bowls in the past 20 years. Since Snyder took over ownership, Washington has exactly zero playoff wins, and with Sunday’s loss to the Eagles, the team isn’t going to be playing postseason football for the 23rd time in 29 years. The 2022 season is ending the same way as many previous ones have: Washington will be heading into the final week of the season knowing they have nothing to play for. They actually had a long shot at making the playoffs heading into Week 17, but a blown lead turned into a failed comeback saw Washington lose a game they definitely should’ve won. The Eagles deserve lots of credit though, as their 20–16 defeat of Washington earned them a playoff spot for the third time in four seasons. They battled through injuries and COVID issues all year long, and their potent rushing attack, as well as their rock solid defense, will hopefully help Philly make some noise in the playoffs. 

Here are three takeaways from Washington fate-sealing loss on Sunday to the Eagles:

The offense disappeared in the second half

For the second time this season, Washington was up 10–0 on Philadelphia after one quarter of play. In the first matchup, the team pulled an Antonio Brown and stopped playing after the first quarter. This time around, Washington decided to play the entire first half before pulling an AB. At the half, Washington held a 16–7 lead but failed to score a single point in the second half. The frustrating part was that the Eagles didn’t play particularly well in the second half, either; they were forced to kick two field goals on drives that stalled near the red zone. The Washington defense was able to get a decent amount of pressure in Jalen Hurts’ face, forcing him to roll out of the pocket and eliminate any deep passing threat. The offense just wasn’t able to get anything going in the final two quarters of play. After throwing for 170 yards on 14/16 passing in the first half, Taylor Heinicke tallied only 77 more yards in the second half despite completing 13 passes. He was hitting almost every throw in the first half, putting the ball only where his receivers could make a play. In the second half, it was the complete opposite. Heinicke was constantly leaving throws high and not even giving his wideouts a chance to make a catch. On the final drive of the game, with a chance to take a last-second lead, Heinicke missed tight end John Bates, resulting in a  loss-sealing interception. In both losses to Philadelphia, Washington started off the game hot, but the Eagles came right back and ended up winning the game.

Washington lost the turnover battle

Although the defense performed well overall, the only knock on Sunday’s performance was their inability to force turnovers. There were a few times where the d-line got pressure in Hurts’ face, forcing him to make an off-balance throw in tight coverage. Unfortunately, the secondary was unable to come away with any interceptions. In previous games, Hurts hadn’t looked great throwing on the run, but he looked super comfortable on Sunday. On several occasions, Hurts rolled out to his right and hit a receiver downfield right in the chest. On the opposite of the ball, the Washington offense only committed one turnover, but it really could’ve been two. After an opening drive touchdown from Jaret Patterson, the defense was able to stop Philly on fourth down, giving the ball back to the offense. From just outside the red zone, the Eagles d-line got immediate pressure in Heinicke’s face, causing him to heave a prayer into no-man’s-land that was picked off by Genard Avery. Luckily, an illegal contact flag on the Eagles negated the interception. After that mishap, Heinicke looked poised for the rest of the first half. We already talked about how bad the offense stalled in the second half, which included Heinicke’s interception that allowed Philly to ice the game. With how little the offense accomplished in the second half, the defense needed to force a turnover if Washington wanted to come back and win the game.

Jaret Patterson stepped up admirably

In the absence of Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic, rookie running back Jaret Patterson received his first career start in the NFL and made his mark. Standing in at just 5’8”, 195 lbs, Patterson played much bigger than he actually is, breaking tackles and making hard cuts all afternoon. Patterson registered 12 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown. He also brought in all five of his targets for 41 yards, bringing his total yardage from scrimmage to 98. While he isn’t quite as talented of a runner as Gibson or a receiver as McKissic, Patterson proved that he deserves a spot on an NFL roster and that Washington made a great choice signing him after the 2021 draft.

Washington’s 2022 playoff hopes are officially toast, but that doesn’t mean the final game of the season is pointless. Week 18 will be an opportunity for Washington to give some younger players a chance to show their talents before heading into the offseason. Washington will be taking on the 4–12 Giants, who have looked like a high school football team ever since Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm took over for an injured Daniel Jones a few weeks ago. In Week 2, Washington barely snuck by the Giants on a game-winning field goal, so hopefully, they can end the season on a high note.