NFL

Eagles defense holds firm to squeak by Washington in Week 17 win

Eagles Washington
Eagles free safety Anthony Harris tackles Washington Football Team running back Jaret Patterson during the first half at FedExField.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty, but the Philadelphia Eagles continue to control their playoff destiny.

Rodney McLeod’s diving, game-clinching interception, however, was a thing of beauty; his diving pick of Taylor Heinicke with 30 seconds to go preserved a 20-16 victory over the Washington Football Team on Sunday afternoon.

The Eagles overturned a pair of two-possession deficits to improve to 9-7 on the season and ensure they hold onto an NFC Wild Card spot, though it was the defense that sparked the victory by holding Washington scoreless for the entire second half.

It allowed a suppressed offense to do just enough — sparked by a pair of Boston Scott touchdowns and Jake Elliott field goals — as Jalen Hurts completed 17-of-26 passes for 214 yards along with an additional 44 on the ground.

It was three fewer than Scott, who led all Eagles rushers with 47 of the team’s 118 rushing yards on Sunday.

Washington leaped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, forcing the Eagles to play catchup throughout the first half.

Jaret Patterson’s 11-yard run capped off Washington’s opening drive with a touchdown before the Eagles were stuffed on a 4th-and-1 from WFT’s 24-yard-line, restoring the ball and momentum to the hosts. They’d kick a field goal after a nine-play, 63-yard drive.

It continued a concerning trend for the Eagles, who have been outscored 35-7 in the first quarter over their last five games.

They got back into it three minutes into the second quarter when Boston Scott pounded one home from 2 yards out on a 4th-and-Goal to cut the Eagles’ deficit to three. For Scott — the Eagles’ best short-yardage back — it was his sixth touchdown of the season to set a new career-high.

Washington responded with a pair of field goals to sandwich an Eagles punt to run out the first-half clock, restore a two-possession advantage, going into halftime with a 16-7 lead.

Eagles running back Boston Scott scores a touchdown as Washington Football Team defensive tackle Daron Payne attempts the tackle.Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles responded on the opening drive of the second half with a methodical 14-play, 75-yard drive that needed Scott to play the hero once again. The Philadelphia back picked up his second touchdown of the day on another 4th-and-Goal from the 1-yard line — this time bouncing out to the right side to get the Eagles back within two with 7:21 left in the third.

After shutting down Washington on two-straight drives, the Eagles took a slim one-point lead with 11:41 left in the fourth quarter when Jake Elliott converted a 42-yard field goal

The defense continued to get the job done by stymying Washington on the ensuing drive. They forced a turnover on downs after forcing a Heinicke incompletion on a 4th-and-4 from the Philadelphia 49-yard-line.

With the shortened field, the Eagles were able to increase their advantage despite gaining just 28 yards with another Elliott field goal — this time from 41 yards out with 2:21 to go.

Needing a touchdown, Washington chipped its way down the field in one final attempt to pull off an upset, but Heinicke’s attempt toward the end zone on a 3rd-&-5 from the Eagles’ 30-yard-line was picked off by a diving McLeod to clinch the victory.

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