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October 29, 2023

Eagles game ball: A.J. Brown's unreal tear continues in win over Commanders

A.J. Brown scored two touchdowns in a record-setting performance, and Reed Blankenship made the big interception late to lead the Eagles in a 38-31 win.

The Washington Commanders once again gave the Eagles all kinds of headaches in their second and final matchup of the season. 

But A.J. Brown continues to make highlight reel catches on every ball thrown his way, and Reed Blankenship, in his first game back from injury after two weeks away, came up with a crucial interception late that helped get the Eagles to a 38-31 win that, for the better part of Sunday down in Landover, they had no business winning. 

But in the end, they did find a way – again – and these two were major reasons why, which is also why they are receiving the Week 8 editions of PhillyVoice's offensive and defensive game balls.

Offense - A.J. Brown

A.J. Brown's unreal tear continues, catching eight passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns, which set an NFL record of six consecutive games with 125-plus receiving yards.

And his two touchdowns on the day were big momentum shifters, keeping the Eagles in a game that they struggled to get a hold over. 

His one-hander in the end zone that posterized Washington cornerback Benjamin St.-Juste gave the Eagles signs of life and cut the lead down to four late in the half with Philly getting the ball back to begin the second.

Then he caught Jalen Hurts' 25-yard toss-up to the pylon that tied it up at 17 late in the third quarter and put the Eagles on even footing for what felt like the first time all day.

Whatever Hurts sailed up for him on Sunday, Brown caught it, which kept the Eagles afloat long enough to figure out the rest and pull away from a Commanders team that once again gave them inexplicable fits.

He's arguably the best receiver in the NFL right now – definitely the one with the hottest hand – and maybe even the Eagles' MVP.

The case is at least there, and building.

"I haven't had time to really digest what happened, but most importantly, I'm so happy we just got this win," Brown said postgame. "It really wasn't going our way at first, but we found a way, and I think that was huge for this team."

Defense - Reed Blankenship

Sam Howell seems to become the second coming of Peyton Manning whenever he faces the Eagles.

Through three quarters, he was picking them apart in the passing game, and even though the offense and pass rush were doing what they could to keep Philly in it, relatively weaker and banged-up linebacker and safety groups had little answer to getting exploited over the middle.

Tied at 24 approaching the midway point of the fourth and with Washington's offense coming back out, the Eagles needed a stop.

Reed Blankenship, in his first game back from injury since Week 6 against the Jets, did them one better.

With the Commanders on 2nd and 15 from their own 20, Blankenship was right place, right time on a Logan Thomas route that broke down in coverage.

The ball sailed right past the Washington tight end and into the chest of Blankenship over top, who ran it back down to the 15 with an additional eight more tacked on with an unnecessary roughness call on Washington that made it a goal-to-go situation for Philly.

"Honestly, I take this game kinda personal," Blankenship said." Didn't get a lot of my job done today, but at the end of the day, you gotta go back, fix your mistakes. But a win's a win."

And he did help get them there. 

Veteran Julio Jones' first touchdown as an Eagle quickly followed to put them up 31-24, and the Commanders crumbled.

Howell and the Washington offense turned it over on downs on back-to-back drives – the last on another big-time sack from Haason Reddick that essentially iced it with 2:16 left – and the Eagles offense did what it does best late game and drained the clock from there – granted, with a tacked on rushing TD from D'Andre Swift and a last-ditch scoring throw from Howell to Jamison Crowder, but still.

And hey, the Eagles won't have to see Washington again after this (they're reportedly expected to be deadline sellers now), so big plus there.

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