The Athletic (paywall)
he somber visitor locker room at Lincoln Financial Field told the immediate story.
This same space held the party of the year on a Monday night in November. The Washington Commanders were amid their annual midseason surge, but upsetting the then-undefeated Philadelphia Eagles took the momentum to the next level. They danced and sang as Philadelphia native Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” blasted throughout the room.
“That’s a tough one,” McLaurin said. “I’m still trying to process.”
He was referencing the 34-31 overtime loss on Sunday to the 4-0 Eagles. Washington, now 2-2, scored two touchdowns in the final 8:01 of the fourth quarter, including quarterback Sam Howell’s 10-yard strike to Jahan Dotson on the final play from scrimmage in regulation. After an empty Washington possession in the extra period, which included a controversial no-catch ruling on a McLaurin target, Eagles kicker Jake Elliott made the winning 54-yard field goal with 3:58 remaining.
Attempting to address the dual angles meant numerous uses postgame of some form of the phrase “no moral victories.”
“I think I did some good things out there,” Howell said, “but at the end of the day, we did not win. … I don’t believe in moral victories. … We lost the game, and I feel we should have won.”
Overall, Washington finished with more first downs (26-23) than Philadelphia, was a solid 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) on third down and had clutch plays in the fourth quarter. It also had a chance to win. Yet it lost. Give the reigning NFC champion Eagles credit. Rivera and his players did. Eagles QB Jalen Hurts passed for 319 yards and two touchdowns as Philadelphia picked on rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes for several big plays.
The downtrodden Commanders wouldn’t accept a pat on the back.
Washington Post (paywall)
Most NFL Sundays are about survival. For the Commanders on this particular Sunday, style mattered, even as the Eagles danced a jig of relief following Jake Elliott’s game-ending 54-yard field goal. The Eagles expect to win each week, and when that’s the standard, their 34-31 overtime victory over the Commanders will be dissected here as disappointing, as cause for concern. That’s Philadelphia, for sure, but it’s also an example of how preseason and week-to-week expectations color everything in this league.
But at this point in the Commanders’ evolution, there is little embarrassing about a competitive, man-we-might-have-had-it loss on the road. The Eagles have their eyes on the gaudiest prize the sport has to offer. The Commanders are still figuring out where they fit, if they do at all.
“The outcome,” [Ron Rivara] said. “The ending. That’s a hell of a football team we played out there. But I think we’ve got a hell of a football team in this locker room.”
with Washington at 2-2, it’s still on course, even if it’s not chugging along at its most efficient. At 4-0, the Eagles are where their fans expected them to be. The Commanders, if their fans are being realistic, are where they should have been expected to be, too.
“We lost,” defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said. “At the end of the day, we played tough. If we’re not going to play tough, why are we in the league?”
McLaurin, for one, clearly thought he got two feet down on a third-down play on the Commanders’ overtime possession. But instead of complaining, he flipped the script.
“I’m about accountability,” he said. “I just got to find a way to get my feet in.”
Howell’s take on the same play?
“I could have got it out a little quicker,” he said, “and given him a little more room.”
Washington Post (paywall)
It was about the details, the smallest details, that the Washington Commanders were missing Sunday. At times all season, those missing details have kept them from playing full games to their potential, despite stringing together a couple of good quarters, a few good drives, a memorable play here and another there.
“Just the little things, just a couple more details that we have to be a little more …” Rivera said before pausing and letting out a sigh. “Good with,” he finished. “Because if we are — I mean, you saw us. We played a very good team out there. We have a chance. But let’s start winning.”
For much of the game, Washington met the challenge. It scored on its first two possessions — a feat it has accomplished only one other time since the start of 2020 — and jumped to a 17-10 lead at the half.
The offense appeared balanced and aggressive in the first half, collecting 14 first downs, compared with Philadelphia’s eight, and netting 192 yards. The Eagles had only 138 in that span.
The Commanders were given a gift in the red zone from the Eagles, a pass interference penalty on cornerback James Bradberry that moved them up to the Philadelphia 10-yard line. But Howell was sacked, and on the next play, Antonio Gibson fumbled. After recovering the ball, Washington was set back to third and 12 and had to settle for a field goal.
The other missing details: the drop by Dotson on a third down in the third quarter and the ensuing punt by Tress Way that sailed only 38 yards.
“That’s a chance right there,” Dotson said of his drop. “That’s a chance for you to keep your offense out on the field; it’s a chance for your defense to get a little more rest [with] three more downs. I take full responsibility for that.”
The Athletic (paywall)
The anger in the Washington Commanders’ locker room, and from Ron Rivera, after the team’s 34-31 overtime loss Sunday was palpable. For the second year in a row, the Commanders came to the Linc and were the better team for long stretches. They ended the Philadelphia Eagles’ undefeated run last year; they came close Sunday to doing it again. But one arm — Eagles safety Reed Blankenship’s — might have kept the Commanders from another win. One that, given the opponent and the locale and the timing, just a week after Washington’s terrible performance at home against the Buffalo Bills, would have felt like it counted for two or three.
A win would have put Washington with Philly and the Dallas Cowboys atop the division, with the imploding Chicago Bears coming to D.C. on a short turnaround Thursday. A chance to then “double up” in one week and go into a mini-bye at 4-1 would have made everyone forget the Buffalo fiasco. Don’t get me wrong; the season isn’t toast, there are 13 games left, 2-2 isn’t a death sentence, you know the drill. But it was there for the taking Sunday.
“Didn’t make enough plays,” Chase Young said. And if a man could say with his eyes, “Y’all better wrap this session up — and quick,” Young did so. But he wasn’t the only one.
So, maybe don’t call it a moral victory. Josh Harris ain’t much interested in them, I can tell you that. Call it dignity restored. The Commanders needed to see improvement after Buffalo, to not wallow in their poor performance.
How did Sam Howell fare during his second road regular-season game?
Sam Howell is clutch
When the Washington Commanders needed Sam Howell to step up and make a play at the Philadelphia Eagles, he delivered more often than not. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy relied heavily on the run for good or bad in the face of an outstanding defensive front, but the signal-caller was nothing short of sensational throughout.
This was magnified in crunch time late in the contest. The Commanders needed a touchdown to tie on their last possession, which was a pressure-cooker situation that brought the best out of Howell in no uncertain terms.
The gunslinger made some outstanding throws, displayed a level of composure more in keeping with someone who has ice in their veins and came through at literally the last second with a phenomenal touchdown throw to wide receiver Jahan Dotson.
It’s been a long time since the Commanders had someone with the clutch gene under center. Howell has all the intangibles needed to fit into this category and it’s the third time in four games he’s put these talents on show for the entire NFL community to see.
The Commanders have a quarterback they can believe in once again. Howell has the clutch traits needed to turn close games into wins - even if the player and Washington fell agonizingly short of meeting this specific target after a cruel overtime reverse.
Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell had a major bounce-back performance against the Philadelphia Eagles.
He finished the game 29-of-41 for 290 yards, while also throwing a clutch touchdown that sent the game to overtime.
However, the most important stat of the day for Howell even with the fact that the Commanders lost was the zero interceptions. He showed much more poise in the pocket, which it certainly helped the line wasn’t giving up as much pressure as they were in prior weeks, but he also was making all of the right decisions.
He wasn’t afraid to use his legs when needed as he was second on the team in rushing yards and led the team in yards per carry. When you consider that the Eagles’ defense is one of the best in the league he performed quite well, and showed that given more time to work through some growing pains he still has a chance to emerge as the franchise quarterback for the Commanders.
It all came down to a toe, or rather, an arm.
The Washington Commanders faced third-and-5 at their own 30-yard line in overtime against the Philadelphia Eagles. Sam Howell, recognizing that the Eagles were in man coverage, aired out a pass to Terry McLaurin near the left sideline. A catch would have put the Commanders in Eagles territory.
McLaurin managed to get one foot down easily enough. On the second step, he landed on Reed Blankenship’s arm, resulting in what was called an incompletion on the field.
The refs huddled to review the play. Ultimately, they deemed there were not enough to overturn the call. Washington punted the ball away, and 10 plays later the Eagles kicked a 54-yard field goal to claim the 34-31 victory.
Eric Bieniemy showed everyone his version of the offense
Eric Bieniemy looked relaxed last week when talking about Washington’s loss to the Bills. Bieniemy was clear about what needed to happen: “My job is to clean up the s–t, and we continue moving forward.”
Bieniemy went to work last week, and it looked like a different offense. Yes, there were sacks, but it was nothing like it was vs. the Bills. Everyone thought Bieniemy needed to run the ball against the Eagles. Stop throwing the ball as much. Bieniemy answered the call, designing an offense reliant on Howell getting rid of the ball quickly, mixed with the running game. It worked. The Commanders scored 31 points against a dominant defense. Sunday’s offense is likely closer to Bieniemy’s complete vision for the West Coast offense.
Officiating was all over the place in this game. And it hurt both teams. However, some plays stood out late that went against the Commanders. One, the “tush push,” where left guard Landon Dickerson moved before the snap on a critical fourth-and-1 play. It wasn’t called, and the play resulted in a first down. Judge for yourself:
The officials missed a clear false-start by the Left Guard on the 4th and 1 Tush Push.— Chad Ryan (@ChadwikoTWW) October 1, 2023
After McLaurin's catch ruled OOB, if the Eagles go on to win this game, remember this play. pic.twitter.com/CGVapuJVWk
Then there was this on third down in overtime, where Howell found Terry McLaurin for an apparent catch, but officials ruled it out of bounds.
Again, judge for yourself:
DID TERRY MCLAURIN GET HIS FEET IN? pic.twitter.com/wah3mYIgvm— Arye Pulli (@AryePulli) October 1, 2023
Podcasts & videos
In video: with @sam4tr on a tough loss by the Commanders. Looking at Sam Howell. Tough day for Emmanuel Forbes. How they reacted in the locker room and what that revealed. More. @ESPNRichmond https://t.co/uVg9Ack5OL— John Keim (@john_keim) October 2, 2023
Commanders Lose to Eagles in OT 34-31, Drop First NFC East Game | BnG Sessions - Post Game Thoughts
The Washington Commanders have begun warming up at Lincoln Financial Field for their Week 4 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. (Photos by Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)
NFC East links
Pro Football Talk
Elliott had little to show for his efforts. He had six carries for 16 yards and two catches for 6 yards.
Elliott rushed for 8,262 yards and 68 touchdowns in his time with the Cowboys, the third-most rushing yards and third-most rushing touchdowns in team history behind only Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett.
The Cowboys paid tribute to Elliott with a highlight video pregame as Cowboys fans gave him a standing ovation. It was the only highlight for Elliott in his homecoming.
“I honestly wasn’t too emotional,” Elliott said. “I was locked in and focused on the game ahead.”
NFL league links
Cowboys at Patriots
- Mac Jones benched after latest dud. Jones turned the ball over three times, leading to 18 Dallas points, and completed only 12 of 21 attempts for 150 yards before being sent to the bench in favor of Bailey Zappe with 3:41 left in the third quarter. The Patriots’ woeful blocking didn’t help, but Jones’ ball security and mental mistakes exacerbated the issues. Jones never looked comfortable, often fleeing the pocket too early and throwing two atrocious interceptions that never had a shot to be completed. He’s lucky to have only thrown two. The third-year QB either couldn’t or wouldn’t stretch the field, attempting only one deep pass. Zappe fared a little better behind a sieve offensive line, completing 4 of 9 attempts for 57 yards. When asked after the game about whether Jones would start in Week 5, Bill Belichick told reporters “Yeah. I didn’t think there was any point in leaving him out there, so I took him out.” The question is how long will the leash be if the struggles continue?
- Cowboys’ red-zone issues persist. It didn’t bite them this week, but Mike McCarthy’s red-zone offense remains a work in progress. Dallas started 0 for 3 in the red area, extending its streak of possessions inside the 20-yard-line without a touchdown to seven straight dating back to last week. It took a 3-yard run from fullback Hunter Luepke late in the blowout to end the streak. Dallas’ red-zone offense remains an amalgam of negative plays, head-scratching play calls and sacks. Through four weeks, Dallas is 7 of 19 in the red zone. The Cowboys moved the ball between the 20s, earning 377 yards and 22 first downs while going 8 of 15 on third-down conversions. The red-zone problems become background noise when the defense plays like it did on Sunday. But it’s something McCarthy will need to clean up to keep pace in tighter contests.
NFL Research: The 35-point loss is the largest margin of defeat in Bill Belichick’s 29-year head coaching career.
Commanders at Eagles
- Don’t overlook Sam Howell’s performance. One week after Howell was pummeled in a nine-sack, four-INT game, the second-year QB came back with a gutsy and prolific performance against a scary Eagles defense. Howell finished the game 29-of-41 passing for 290 yards and one TD. He ran for 40 yards, as well. Early on, the Commanders protected Howell better than the week before, and he was able to cook. But his best work was on the final drive of regulation, with 1:43 on the clock and one timeout left. He hit huge completions to Byron Pringle, Dyami Brown, Terry McLaurin and — with the game clock almost at 0:00 — Jahan Dotson for the game-tying TD. Should Ron Rivera have gone for two there and the win? Maybe. Howell and the offense went three and out to start OT, and they never got the ball back.
NFL Research: Jalen Hurts has won each of his last five regular-season starts in which his team trailed by 10+ points (this excludes Week 10, 2022, against Washington, when the Commanders scored as time expired to go up by 11 points).
The network’s Chiefs-Jets intro with Carson Daily would have been a good choice in 1998 if Mariah Carey was dating Deion Sanders
I’ve had little to no problem with the coverage of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce.
Besides the worst that the tabloids have had to offer, the burgeoning situationship between Kelce and Swift has amused me. That was until NBC’s introduction for the Swifties, just prior to the start of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets.
[T]o have a 50-year-old Carson Daly explain the Jets and Chiefs to the Swifites from the set of The Voice nearly caused the entire storyline to jump the shark.
Carson Daly providing Taylor Swift-themed context to Sunday night's Chiefs/Jets game before the opening kickoff. pic.twitter.com/YjIMTxUkf0— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) October 2, 2023
Rumors about Kelce and Swift have been in the gossip blogs and social media handles for weeks. Her millennial/Gen Z fanbase is known for their rapid research abilities. They have subreddits, Xwitter threads, TikToks, literally the entire internet at their disposal. Pandering to them with the former host of a Y2K-era music video countdown show blurting out the names of Swift’s most well-known songs is corny.
The network’s parent company owns E! — whose entire purpose is to stay current on all things pop culture. A crossover audience is more likely to be found with a face from the channel that aired Keeping up with the Kardashians than Tara Reid’s former boyfriend, and a show whose primary audience is people who watch network television, commercials and all, regularly on weeknights.
The NFL and NBC decided to capitalize on this moment by using a joke that Scott Hanson delivered last week. It worked for RedZone. That channel is for an audience of football fans, and Hanson is the sherpa to our Sundays. Seven days later, the jokes were as cold as an actual mountain climb.
Chiefs -9 bettors, shield your eyes pic.twitter.com/1jz4QVERUc— Barstool Gambling (@stoolgambling) October 2, 2023
I DON’T CARE IF ITS THE RIGHT PLAY … I DON’T CARE OF IT ENDS THE GAME .., I DON’T CARE IF ITS THE SAFE PLAY . I DON’t CARE I DONT CARE I DONT CARE ,
GET IN THE FUCKING ENDZONE IF THE SPREAD AND MORE IMPORTANTLY THE TEAM TOTAL IS ON THE LINE ! MAHOMES … GRAVEYARD . HAVE FUN DRIVING HOME WITH YOUR WIFE WHO SULKED THE WHOLE NIGHT IN THE SUITE WITH THE FUNNEST PEOPLE ON EARTH. ABSOLUTE LOSERS.
GOOD LUCK EXPLAINING THAT TO TAYLOR WHY YOU JUST SLID AND DIDNT TRY TO SCORE. SHE THINKS YOU'RE A COWARD NOW!!! https://t.co/tOAGcJiQEj— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) October 2, 2023