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The Philadelphia Eagles entered Sunday’s matchup against former quarterback Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders planning to hit the signal-caller early and often. They did so to the tune of nine sacks in the 24-8 division victory.
“Get after the quarterback,” coach Nick Sirianni said, via the team transcript. “One thing we really wanted to do on known pass (downs) was get after him and get him to a known pass. I think we did a really nice job of getting him to known pass, and then our defensive line, they just went out and hunted. And again, it wasn’t just one guy. It was all the guys, but to get there you have to be successful on first and second down, and first down really. So, great job on first down to get us into known pass and they just went out there and they got after them and won their one-on-one matchups and competed all day.”
The Eagles’ defensive line bamboozled Wentz out of the gate, sacking the QB six times and holding him to just a career-low 24 passing yards in the first half. The nine overall sacks were the fourth-most in a game by Philadelphia in the Super Bowl era.
“Hitting the quarterback, getting at the quarterback, putting pressure on him, it was a big emphasis,” pass rusher Haason Reddick said of the plan for Wentz. “Takeaways and turnovers as well were an emphasis. We want to be a team that takes the ball away, whether it comes through sack, fumbles, knocking it out. If it’s a running play by a running back or getting interceptions, we want to be the team that takes away the ball.”
The Eagles displayed a deep defensive front, with seven players generating at least three pressures in the game. Brandon Graham (2.5), Reddick (1.5), Josh Sweat (1.5), Fletcher Cox (1.5), Javon Hargrave (1.0) and T.J. Edwards (1.0) each netted sacks.
The pressure had Wentz spooked, as Washington earned just five first downs through three quarters and didn’t have a drive longer than 23 plays until garbage time.
“I think that’s a combination of a number of things whenever there’s a number like that,” Wentz said after the game. “It’s not the O-line. I’ve got to be better. I have to get rid of the ball in a lot of those situations, find a checkdown and move on, different things like that. Hats off to their D-line and their front — it’s a good front. But I’ve got to do better and help our guys out.”
Philly jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead and coasted down the stretch thanks to big plays from MVP candidate Jalen Hurts and a menacing defensive front.
“I think they were able to affect them early,” Hurts said of the defense. “Just the front seven. They played a great game. They played a great game. Nine sacks is crazy.”