Eagles hand Washington NFC East title to eliminate Giants

NFL: Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles
Alex Smith and the Washington Football Team clinched the NFC East on Sunday night, eliminating the New York Giants.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

If the Philadelphia Eagles wanted to sabotage the New York Giants’ chances of making the playoffs on Sunday night, they didn’t do a very good job veiling it. 

After defeating the Dallas Cowboys in a helter-skelter 23-19 victory to move into a temporary virtual tie for the NFC East division lead with the Washington Football Team, the Giants watched their title hopes go up in smoke as they were eliminated from postseason contention. Washington defeated the Eagles 20-14 in Philadelphia with the hosts not showing much interest in actually winning the game. 

After taking a 14-10 second-quarter lead, the Eagles took their proverbial feet off the gas pedal as head coach Doug Pederson’s mystifying play calls and decisions destroyed any hope that his team would spoil Washington’s chances at the NFC East crown. 

Washington took a three-point lead just 40 seconds before halftime when Alex Smith hit Logan Ryan for a leaping 13-yard score before the Eagles fell apart in the second half. 

A remarkable Marcus Epps interception that simultaneously coincided with contact with the receiver he was defending gave the Eagles the ball on Washington’s 15-yard-line after his return was inexplicably blown dead by the referees. After four runs got Philadelphia to the one-yard-line, Pederson called three-straight pass plays, including a 4th-&-Goal incompletion that saw rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts underthrow a wide-open Quez Watkins in the back of the end zone. 

Pederson then opted to bench Hurts — who provided the offense with a spark since the benching of Carson Wentz in Week 13 — for Nate Sudfeld, who had appeared in just three regular-season games since 2017.

His second pass attempt was intercepted before fumbling possession away on the first play following a TJ Edwards interception with 10:23 to go in the fourth quarter. 

Off that turnover, Washington extended its lead to six with a field goal nearly three minutes later.

“Why on god’s green earth is Jalen Hurts not in the game?” Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton tweeted while watching. “This is sickening.”

The Eagles offense was nothing short of inept with Sudfeld in while the defense put the icing on the cake of the team’s suspect effort. On a 4th-&-inches near midfield with two minutes to go, T.Y. McGill jumped offsides to give Washington an automatic first down to close things out.

“Can someone make it make sense to me what’s going on….?” injured star running back Saquon Barkley asked. 

A lot of people probably could make sense of it, but that’s when the integrity of the game starts to get questioned. 

While the Giants season ends, they’ll have the No. 11 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft while the Eagles pick sixth with their 4-11-1 record. They would have picked ninth if they won. 


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