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October 01, 2023

Eagles game ball: A.J. Brown, Nick Morrow have huge games on an uneven day

A.J. Brown's taunting call late nearly haunted the Eagles in the end, but his two touchdowns had them in it in the first place.

It wasn't pretty, once again, and took overtime after a forced tie at the very last second, but the Eagles found a way.

They beat the Commanders, 34-31 in OT, down at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday to improve to 4-0 and win their first NFC East matchup of the season.

The game could've gone either way for a while, but a few Eagles across each of the three units really helped make the difference on Sunday, making them the ones to leave with PhillyVoice's game balls for the Week 4 edition of the ongoing series.

Offensive game ball: A.J. Brown

The Eagles were in bad need of a jolt coming out for the second half, and eventually, A.J. Brown, in unmistakable pink and neon green cleats, gave it to them.

With the ball spotted at the Eagles' own 41 on a fresh first down, Jalen Hurts launched one up for Brown, who was streaking up the left sideline on a wheel route with plenty of separation from his man, and he came down with it, cutting back inside and following the blocks from DeVonta Smith and Olamide Zaccheaus in front of him to run it right into the end zone.

Touchdown, 59 yards, a 21-17 Eagles lead after the two-point try, and an offense that, for the first time all day, had life.

They were in better control of everything from there.

In total, Brown caught nine of his 13 targets for 175 yards and the two scores, including his (finally) first of the season on Sunday. While the Eagles' offense was all kinds out of sorts through the first half, he was one of the very few constants, breaking free for catches on short routes that did some chip damage, but didn't amount to much else.

But that all shifted in the second half, starting with the first touchdown pass he hauled in, and then a drawn defensive pass interference call in double coverage on a 3rd and 5 that moved the ball up and gave the Eagles a fresh set of downs within Washington territory, leading to a field goal.

The 28-yard loft from Hurts he came down with in the end zone for touchdown No. 2 probably should've iced it late in the fourth quarter, but that taunting call he got tagged with on the celebration came back to bite him when Washington used those 15 extra yards from the foul to score and force OT with no time left. 

Still, that didn't deter Hurts from looking for him in the extra frame. Brown could've ended it on one pass. He was that game-changing. 

It hasn't been an easy start to the season for Brown, or the passing attack as a whole – hell, it wasn't even a pretty game for them on Sunday either – but he had his day, and the Eagles don't win without him.

Defensive game ball: Nick Morrow

After a lukewarm camp, Nick Morrow started the season on the outside looking in with the Eagles' linebacking group.

But an injury to Nakobe Dean created an opening for him to come back up from the practice squad, and on Sunday, he finally made his mark, coming up with three huge sacks – two of which forced Washington to punt on potential drives that could've seen the Commanders pull ahead, and the last late that pushed them back down seven and with little time left.

The first came on a 3rd and 8 in the second to force a three-and-out when Washington was up, 14-7.

The second came on a 3rd and 4 in the third, when pressure cracked down and Sam Howell tried to run and escape.

The quarterback definitely started running, just straight into a No. 41 charging straight at him. The Commanders had to punt, and the Eagles turned that into a field goal after taking the lead the drive before to go up, 24-17.

And the third, with a 1:13 left and Washington trailing, Morrow sent Howell seven yards backward with next to no room for error – even though the Commanders still wiggled out of it, 

The Eagles, of course, needed more to get the job done, but Morrow's sacks were crucial in putting a complete stop to moments where Washington could've completely taken over.

And that was huge coming from an overall suspect linebacking corps where, at one point, Morrow might've been viewed as the weakest within it.

Special teams game ball: Jake Elliott and Britain Covey

Elliott for his bionic leg – 4-for-4 on field goals, including the winning 54-yarder in overtime.

And Covey for weaving and juking into that 20-yard punt return to the Eagles' 43 that set up Brown's late fourth-quarter TD drive.

The team's "goofy little brother" came up big.

Honorable mentions

• Line judge Maia Chaka, who bounced back up after just eating a Jalen Hurts hit out of bounds along the sideline. Straight up pro.

• "Tush push" (or "Brotherly Shove") on a 4th and 1 in OT? Never a doubt.

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