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The Washington Football Team looked at their home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles as the ultimate test of what they could be capable of this season. With a new head coach, fairly unproven offense, and a defense that looked good on paper, there were still questions about how the team would actually perform in a game day situation.
“I like this as the home opener because these guys are the gold standard in our division,” Rivera said prior to the game. “They won it last year and got into the playoffs. So, this will be a good measuring stick as far as where we are as a football team.”
Washington found out where they are on Sunday when they pulled off a 27-17 come from behind victory that propelled them to 1-0 to start the season. While the outcome is positive, the game started off shaky and it appeared that the team was not quite different from where they left off last season.
On Philadelphia’s opening drive, the Eagles marched down the field until Carson Wentz connected with his favorite target Zack Ertz for their first touchdown of the game. Wentz followed that up with a 50+ yard dagger through the air to rookie Jalen Reagor, leading to a Jake Elliott field goal which put the Eagles up 10-0.
As for Washington, they struggled to get going on offense and defense. Dwayne Haskins was unable to move the ball down the field, mostly because of breakdowns in protection by the offensive line. This resulted in the second-year quarterback rushing to get the ball out before he had time to set his feet.
Defensively, there were a few penalties on rookie Chase Young as well as Montez Sweat and the secondary was exposed again as Wentz hit Dallas Goedert for a 34-yard touchdown in the second quarter. This extended the Eagles lead to 17-0.
Heading into halftime, there were a few bright spots, including cornerback Fabian Moreau intercepting Wentz, which changed the tone of the game.
In the second half, Washington looked like a completely different team. The defense dominated like we thought they could. They continued to pressure Wentz and force turnovers. Two of those turnovers put Washington’s offense in good field position, which resulted in two touchdowns that made the score 14-17.
From there, the team was clicking on both sides of the ball and Washington scored 20 unanswered points after halftime, leading them to their first win under Ron Rivera. It was the first time Washington won a home opener since 2014 and it snapped their six-game losing streak against the Eagles.
The defense finished with eight sacks and two interceptions. It’s also important to note that Ryan Kerrigan’s two sacks earned him the franchise’s official all-time sack leader honors, surpassing Dexter Manley.
After the game, it was revealed that Haskins gave a spirited halftime speech that inspired the team while Coach Rivera was receiving an IV (due to cancer treatments) to ensure he could the present for the second half.
“Pretty much the moral of the speech was, ‘We’re home, we’re the home team. They’re the visitors. There’s no reason why we should be feeling like the little bro in a sense,'” Haskins said after the game. “For me, it was find a way to win. They beat us last year at their place, and this is our house and we’re killing ourselves. It was nothing that they did that really stopped us, so we just got to keep finding ways to win every game.”
With week one in the books, Washington will be on the road next Sunday to face the Arizona Cardinals led by Kyler Murray.