The Washington Football Team won its first NFC East title since 2015 on Sunday night, taking down the Philadelphia Eagles 20-14 at Lincoln Financial Field, and clinching a playoff berth in the process.
But, said receiver Terry McLaurin, "It's not a complete celebration party, because we gotta get ready for Tampa next week.''
Still, there are things to be celebrated.
Despite the 7-9 record, first-year coach Ron Rivera somehow managed to cap off a dramatic regular season filled with controversy, personal troubles, and a worldwide pandemic, on the right note, leading his team back from a 1-5 record to an improbable postseason berth.
Said O-lineman Morgan Moses: "The positivity of the coaching staff is the difference, man."
It wasn't the most aesthetically-pleasing game to watch, but Washington (thanks in part to some help from Eagles head coach Doug Pederson's questionable quarterback-related decision down the stretch) was able to stave off an Eagles comeback bid, holding them scoreless in the second half.
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As a team, Washington's defense was once again at the center of their success, holding Philadelphia to just 192 yards of total offense, including just 72 yards passing from Jalen Hurts, and forced three turnovers.
Rookie Chase Young, who was named a team captain just a week prior, unsurprisingly led the way for the Washington defense, finishing with a sack, a fumble recovery, a tackle for loss, and two quarterback hits, while disrupting the Eagles passing attack all night long.
On offense, the WFT didn't fare much better than their counterparts but was able to muster just enough production to make a difference with quarterback Alex Smith back at the helm.
Smith ended the game completing 22 of his 32 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. Running back Antonio Gibson also joined the 1,000-yard club on Sunday night, rushing for 75 yards on 19 carries.
Following the win, the WFT will head into the wild-card round of the playoffs, where they will take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 8:15 pm ET at FedExField.
It will be the first playoff start for Alex Smith since 2018, when he was at the helm for the Kansas City Chiefs’ 22-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium.
“It speaks way more to the team, the character we have,” Smith said. “Everything that was stacked against, going through the offseason, new coaching staff, all the changes, all the COVID stuff, and for us to get off to a slow start like we did and find a way to battle back and then finish it off like this, it says a lot about the character we have in the locker room. Good or bad, those guys come to work and we put in the effort.”