The Washington Commanders had a plan to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, and this time, they had the workhorse to execute it.
When the Eagles defeated the Commanders 24-8 on Sept. 25, running back Brian Robinson Jr. was recovering from two gunshot wounds inflicted during an attempted carjacking on Aug. 28.
On Monday night, the rookie from Alabama ran for 86 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries as Washington’s ball-control strategy resulted in a 32-21 victory over previously undefeated Philadelphia.
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Antonio Gibson augmented Robinson’s performance with 44 yards and one touchdown on 14 rushing attempts as the Commanders doubled the Eagles in time of possession – 40:24 to 19:36.
“We found one of the best ways to slow (Eagles quarterback) Jalen Hurts down is keep him off the field,” Commanders coach Ron Rivera said, “and we were fortunate that we were able to do that today. …
“We felt if we could control the line of scrimmage and run the ball, we could slow things down, and that’s what we were able to do. The dude’s a dynamic quarterback. He’s done a heck of a job.”
Gibson capped a 13-play drive with a 1-yard run for Washington’s first touchdown as the Commanders tied the game at 7-7 with 5:00 left in the first quarter. Robinson capped a 16-play drive with a 1-yard run for Washington’s second touchdown as the Commanders went ahead 17-14 with 1:39 left in the first half. Washington led the rest of the game.
The Commanders also had possessions that ended in field goals that featured 12 and 14 plays.
“They had 21 third downs,” Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni said. “That’s a lot. So they stuck to their game plan. I respect that. (Washington offensive coordinator) Scott Turner did a good job of calling it. They stuck to their game plan and kept us on the field for an awfully long time.”
Robinson entered Monday night’s game with 219 yards and one touchdown on 67 carries in the five games since he made his delayed NFL debut on Oct. 9.
Against the Eagles, the former Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa star carried the ball on third down four times and produced three first downs.
“He looked pretty dynamic to me,” Rivera said. “Those 2- and 3-yarders looked pretty good. The thing that you’ve got to understand is the one thing you’ve got to do is you got stick with it, you got to pound on it because, again, it opened up the opportunity for us to throw the ball down the field.”
Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin had eight receptions for 128 yards on Monday night.
In addition to Robinson, 13 players from Alabama high schools and colleges got on the field during the Washington-Philadelphia game:
· Jonathan Allen (Alabama) started at defensive tackle for the Commanders. Allen made two tackles.
· Eagles safety Reed Blankenship (West Limestone) played but did not record any stats.
· James Bradberry (Pleasant Grove, Samford) started at cornerback for the Eagles. Bradberry made two tackles.
· Landon Dickerson (Alabama) started at left guard for the Eagles.
· Eagles offensive lineman Jack Driscoll (Auburn) played but did not record any stats.
· Jalen Hurts (Alabama) started at quarterback for the Eagles. Hurts completed 17-of-26 passes for 175 yards with two touchdowns and one interception and ran for 28 yards and one touchdown on six carries. Hurts had thrown only two interceptions this season and had played four full games since his previous one when he was picked off by Darrick Forrest on a long pass in the second quarter. Hurts scored the game’s first points on a 1-yard run with 12:21 left in the first quarter. Hurts threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Goedert as the Eagles took a 14-7 lead with 1:30 left in the first quarter and an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DeVonta Smith as Philadelphia cut Washington’s lead to 23-21 with 14:54 to play.
· Eagles cornerback Josh Jobe (Alabama) was designated as a game-day inactive.
· Commanders defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis (Alabama) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Bobby McCain (Oxford) started at free safety for the Commanders. McCain made four tackles.
· Commanders running back J.D. McKissic (Central-Phenix City) was designated as a game-day inactive. A neck injury kept McKissic sidelined for the second game in a row.
· Daron Payne (Shades Valley, Alabama) started at defensive tackle for the Commanders. Payne made three tackles.
· Commanders safety Jeremy Reaves (South Alabama) made a tackle on special teams.
· Cam Sims (Alabama) started at tight end for the Commanders. Sims was targeted once but did not have a reception. A wide receiver, Sims appeared in the game book listed at tight end for the first time.
· Eagles punter Arryn Siposs (Auburn) averaged 47.0 yards on three punts, with a 43.0-yard average. Siposs had a 40-yard punt for a fair catch at the Washington 30-yard line, a 48-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Washington 20 and a 53-yarder that was returned 12 yards to the Washington 47.
· DeVonta Smith (Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Eagles. Smith had six receptions for 39 yards and one touchdown. On his 24th birthday, Smith caught an 11-yard touchdown pass as Philadelphia cut Washington’s lead to 23-21 with 14:54 to play. Smith also got charged with a lost fumble when his lateral on the final play of the game was recovered by the Commanders in the end zone for a touchdown with no time remaining.
· Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins (Athens) caught four passes for 80 yards. He also lost a fumble at the Washington 23-yard line at the end of the 50-yard reception with 5:43 left to play and Philadelphia trailing by five points.
Philadelphia fell to 8-1, and Washington improved to 5-5.
Both teams will play on the road against AFC South opponents at noon CST Sunday, with the Eagles visiting the Indianapolis Colts and the Commanders visiting the Houston Texans.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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