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January 02, 2022

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Washington game

The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Washington Football Team in a game with major playoff implications on Sunday, by the score of 20-16. As always, win lose, or tie, we hand out 10 awards. 

1) The 'Exceeding Expectations' Award 📈: The 2021 Philadelphia Eagles

No matter what happens against Dallas next weekend, the Eagles will win more games than they will lose in 2021, at least during the regular season. There were more than a handful of bad opponents — and some low points — along the way, but the Birds found a way to win at least nine games, which exceeded expectations heading into this season.

They have now won four straight games, albeit against a quartet of teams with a 20-44 record, and with some luck (we'll get to that in a bit), could clinch a playoff berth by the time the day is over.

2) The 'Slow Start' Award 🐌: The Eagles

Of course, the aforementioned four-game winning streak hasn't always been pretty, especially at the beginning of each game, as the Eagles have been outscored 35-7 in the first quarter of their last five games. 

1st quarter scoring Eagles Opponent 
Week 12: At Giants 
Week 13: At Jets 12 
Week 15: Washington 10 
Week 16: Giants 
Week 17: At Washington 10 

The Eagles don't seem to know why the slow starts keep happening, buuuut that needs to get fixed if they want to avoid an immediate exit from the playoffs, should they get that far.

3) The 'Spinning Wheels' Award: The Eagles' rushing attack

The Eagles stuck to the run today even when it wasn't as dominant as it has been over the back half of the season. They ran it 34 times for 118 yards (3.47 YPC) and 2 TDs. Jordan Howard looked hampered, and while Boston Scott scored twice, I do think the Eagles missed Miles Sanders.

4) The 'Neutral' Award 😐: Jalen Hurts

Let's go ahead and update Hurts' stock up / stock down tally:

  1. Week 1: Eagles 32 at Falcons 6 📈
  2. Week 2: 49ers 17 at Eagles 11 😐
  3. Week 3: Eagles 21 at Cowboys 41 📉
  4. Week 4: Chiefs 42 at Eagles 30 📈
  5. Week 5: Eagles 21 at Panthers 18 😐
  6. Week 6: Buccaneers 28 at Eagles 22 📉
  7. Week 7: Eagles 22 at Raiders 33 📉
  8. Week 8: Eagles 44 at Lions 6 😐
  9. Week 9: Chargers 27 at Eagles 24 😐
  10. Week 10: Eagles 30 at Broncos 13 📈
  11. Week 11: Saints 29 at Eagles 40 📈
  12. Week 12: Eagles 7 at Giants 13 📉
  13. Week 13: Eagles 33 at Jets 18 🪑
  14. Week 15: Washington 17 at Eagles 27 📈
  15. Week 16: Giants 10 at Eagles 34 😐
  16. Week 17: Eagles 20 at Washington 16 😐

The tale of the tape:

📈 = 5 games

📉 = 4 games

😐 = 6 games

🪑 = 1 game

On the day, Hurts was 17 of 26 for 214 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs. He didn't make big mistakes, but on a day that the rushing attack wasn't performing at a high level, Nick Sirinni seemed apprehensive about putting the game in Hurts' hands. Hurts made some nice throws, particularly one on the run to Greg Ward, but there were others that he missed.

Hurts' best play of the day was his ability to somehow pitch the ball to Boston Scott on fourth down at the goal line. 

That's just an athletic kid turning a disaster into a touchdown. I think it was closer to a stock up performance than a stock down performance, but on the whole, I think we have to go neutral here.

UPDATE: So it appears I'm being nearly unanimously overruled in the "stock neutral" call. Alright. I can re-watch and reevaluate.

5) The 'Maddox Island' Award 🌴: Avonte Maddox

Clinging to a one-point lead in the fourth quarter, Maddox had three great efforts in a span of five plays. He had excellent man-to-man coverage, breaking up a pass intended for Washington's best skill player, Terry McLaurin. He was flagged for a ridiculous pass interference call on the play, but whatever. 

He then made a great one-on-one tackle to set up a 4th and 4, and was in position to help create an incompletion on fourth down, resulting in a turnover on downs.

That was a huge, game-turning series by Maddox, who helped justify his in-season contract extension today.

6) The 'Disruption' Award 😅: Josh Sweat

Sweat had pair of sacks (he had to share one with Fletcher Cox), and he got his hands on a pair of passes. The sacks weren't cheapies, either. Sack No. 1: 

And sack No. 2: 

Sweat now has eight sacks on the season.

7) The 'Hands' Award 👐: Rodney McLeod

The Eagles haven't been involved in many nail-biters this season. When they've won, they've typically won handily, and when they've lost, again, those games typically haven't been super tight. McLeod delivered the game-sealing play with this great catch on a diving interception.

McLeod has kinda been a quiet, but great Eagles player over the years.

8) The 'Steady' Award 🦶: Jake Elliott

If Elliott would have missed either of his field goal attempts from 42 or 41 yards, the Eagles probably lose this game, right? So we should probably give him a little hat tip for, you know, not missing them.

9) The 'Sweep' Award 🧹: The Washington Football Team

In 2020, the Washington Football Team swept the Eagles in a pair of games in which the Birds were severely depleted. In 2021, the Eagles returned the favor.

10) The 'Help!' Award 🙏: The Panthers, 49ers, and Packers

As you're no doubt aware by now, the Eagles can clinch a playoff berth, today, if the following two boxes are checked:

  1. The Panthers beat the Saints OR the 49ers beat the Texans during the late afternoon games.
  2. The Packers beat the Vikings on Sunday Night Football.

As of 5:30 p.m. EST, the 49ers are not doing their part, as they're losing 7-0 in the second quarter of their game. The underdog Panthers are up 10-6 on the Saints, also in the second quarter.

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