With 1 second on the clock and his team down 7, second-year Quarterback and first-year starter Sam Howell had the Commanders at the Philadelphia 10 yard line and needing a score.
On the final play of regulation, the Washington QB threw a bullet pass to the right into the hands of second-year receiver Jahan Dotson for the touchdown.
His first score of the year could not have come at a better time, tying the game on the road against the defending NFC Champions in as hostile of an environment as you’ll find in the NFL.
The game went into overtime, where the Commanders couldn’t capitalize on starting with the football, punting to the Eagles after a three-and-out. Ten plays later, Jake Elliott won the game for Philly on a 54 yard field goal to keep the Eagles perfect at 4-0.
Walking away from the game, it’s hard not to take the controversial moral victory in stride.
Just one week ago, this same Washington team lost by 34 at home and scored just 3 points in a rout against Buffalo.
On Sunday, they went toe-to-toe with one of the league’s best.
To open the game, the Commanders mounted back-to-back touchdown drives.
First, Howell led the offense on a 14 play, 75 yard touchdown drive that lasted over 7 minutes to open the game. The drive was capped off by a Curtis Samuel rushing touchdown.
After surrendering an Eagles touchdown drive to tie the game at 7-7, Howell led the Commanders to another touchdown, this time a score by Brian Robinson to cap off a 7 play drive to retake the lead.
By halftime, Washington led 17-10.
In the third quarter, the Eagles shutout Washington and took the lead early in the 4th after another Jake Elliott field goal, 24-17.
With his team down by a touchdown, Howell led the Commanders back on yet another long drive, this time a 11 play, 75 yard march that was capped off by Brian Robinson’s second touchdown of the day from 15 yards out.
After the teams traded punts, Philadelphia Quarterback Jalen Hurts led the Eagles on a go-ahead touchdown drive that was finished off with a 28 yard touchdown pass to AJ Brown, who finished the game with 175 yards on 9 catches and 2 touchdowns.
Following the score, Brown was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, creating a shorter field for Howell and company on the ensuing drive.
Well, the Commanders needed every second to eventually find Dotson in the endzone on the final play of regulation, proving Brown's penalty to be costly.
Washington had a chance to win the game right then and there, had they gone for two. However, Head Coach Ron Rivera opted for overtime, kicking the extra point and tying the game at 31-31.
“Those guys, they were gassed. They really were,” Rivera said on the decision to kick the extra point and not go for two. “It was a long-ass drive, they were hurrying, they were hustling. I really thought we had the chance, and that’s too bad.”
Hindsight 20/20, obviously. But unlike many similar overtime situations where coaches regretted their decisions late in regulation, Rivera’s Commanders won the coin toss to begin overtime, giving themselves a chance to win the game if they could put together a touchdown drive.
Instead: Run for no gain, 5 yard completion, incomplete pass. Three-and-out. Just their second of the game.
When Hurts and the Eagles got the ball in overtime, there was no stopping them, converting a 4th down and getting into field goal range on a crucial 3rd down a few plays later, setting up Elliott for the game-winning 54 yard field goal.
34-31 in overtime.
The Commanders don’t have long to sulk. Washington welcomes in the Chicago Bears for Thursday Night Football, a foe that is one of two remaining teams in the NFL without a win.
If Howell and the offense continue to hum they way they did for much of Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, the Commanders should find their footing against a team that’s been reeling since Week 1.