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September 25, 2022

The Eagles' Bat-Family strikes for big day in Washington

Eagles NFL
Eagles-Commanders-DeVonta-Smith-Week-3-NFL-2022 Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith makes a huge catch in double coverage to bring the ball down to Washington's 1-yard line late in the first half.

The clock expired on the first half and the Eagles' three Batmen had struck Washington like a combo in one of the Arkham games. 

Quez Watkins, the fast Batman, drew a couple of defensive pass interference calls for big chunks of yardage.

A.J. Brown, the swole Batman, caught a pass on a shallow post in the red zone and powered through to the goal line for the touchdown. 

And DeVonta Smith, the skinny Batman? He hauled in a 45-yard bomb along the right sideline that set up the field goal to make it 3-0 Eagles early in the second quarter. 

That was only the beginning. 

With around 40 seconds left in the half, quarterback Jalen Hurts launched another pass downfield. Smith, in double coverage, went up for it and brought it down. A 44-yard gain that brought the ball all the way to the Washington 1-yard line. The wind got knocked out of him on the way down, but he stayed in. 

"Man, I recommend don't nobody do that," he said with a smile postgame. 

After the Washington defense forced a 4th and goal situation in the final seconds, Hurts fired a contested pass to the back of the end zone. Smith lept over cornerback Kendall Fuller and got it with the time showing zero. 

"It's my ball or nobody's," Smith said. 

"He's a great player, all-around player," Hurts said of the second-year receiver. "Slim Reaper. By the eyes, he may be a little sly, but he plays like a big boy, and he is. He's a grown man."

The Eagles went up 24 with scoring all from the second quarter alone, which was more than enough to see them cruise to a 24-8 win over an NFC East rival and the team's first 3-0 start since 2016. 

Brown and Smith also took tours up the sideline with that cape they joked about a couple of weeks ago after each of their touchdowns ($9.99 on Amazon, quipped Brown postgame). It's real, they're leaning fully into the Batman motif that cornerback Darius Slay saw in them, and on Sunday down in Landover, that wide receiver Bat-Family was everything fans were hoping for all offseason. 

"If we keep working, keep getting better each and every week, the sky's the limit for us," Brown said. "For us, and the sky's the limit for this offense...They rely on us, they feed off us, so if we handle our business, we come to work, we can go as far as we want to go."

Smith led the way with eight receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets, upping his involvement and production from Monday night's rout of the Vikings and far above Week 1 in Detroit when he didn't touch the ball at all.

Brown followed with five catches, 85 yards, and his own score, continuing to split the field in two as a top threat opposite of Smith, especially for yards after the catch. 

And Watkins, even though he finished Sunday with no receptions and a single target, still brought the speed that Washington's defense had to respect. 

On the Eagles' first drive of the game, Hurts tried to find Watkins on a throw of about 20 yards. It fell incomplete but only because cornerback Rachad Wildgoose had to make obvious contact to slow Watkins down and break up the play. The flag was thrown for defensive pass interference and moved the ball up 23 yards from the Eagles' 12-yard line, though that possession ultimately ended in a punt. 

Later, with 5:45 remaining in the second quarter and the Eagles taking over at their own 36, Hurts looked for Watkins again. And again, DPI on Wildgoose, moving the ball up 17 yards on the first call of the six-play, 64-yard series that ended in Brown's touchdown to put Philly up, 17-0. 

"I know [Watkins] didn't show up on the stat sheet, but he forced some PI calls that were chunk yardage," head coach Nick Sirianni said. "We count those as explosive plays if you get a plus 16-yard chunk on a penalty. We're gonna count that and he did that because of his speed out there."

Along with tight end Dallas Goedert, who caught a quick pass from Hurts and ran it in for the game's first touchdown, the three wideouts made it all look easy for their quarterback. 

Washington had little answer for the Eagles' air attack – the Commanders had little answer for much of anything in generaland Hurts soared to another impressive performance of 340 yards and three touchdowns. 

"[General manager Howie Roseman] has done a great job of getting those guys in here," Sirianni said. "I feel we have a really well-rounded group at wide receiver, love Dallas Goedert, and those guys win their one-on-one matchups when they need to in critical moments. In third down, it's man, right? You gotta win vs. man. Fourth down in the red zone, they get a stop on us, we gotta win vs. tight man-to-man and DeVonta goes up and makes a big-time play, so great job to them."

Coming into the season, the Eagles garnered a lot of buzz for a vastly improved roster, with the receiving corps at the front of it all thanks to the addition of Brown giving them one of the NFL's top duos on paper. 

After three weeks, including back-to-back routs of Minnesota and now Washington, they're living up to every bit of the hype.

And they got a cape to dawn. 

They are vengeance. They are the night.


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