Through the first quarter of Washington's win-and-in Week 17 clash against the Eagles, it looked as if the Burgundy and Gold were going to blow Philadelphia out. Washington scored a touchdown on its opening drive for the first time all season, then added on a field goal moments later following a Kam Curl interception.
But, after going up 10 on the Eagles, Washington's defense began to let up. Jack Del Rio's unit allowed back-to-back touchdown drives to Jalen Hurts and co. and suddenly found itself down to Philadelphia. An incredible Logan Thomas touchdown grab just before the half would give Washington the lead once again, 17-14, but just a narrow margin over a team that had nothing to play for.
However, during the halftime break, Del Rio told his defense one thing that really stuck with Washington head coach Ron Rivera, and in a good way.
"What I loved was the way Jack [Del Rio] approached it at halftime with the defense," Rivera said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.
"He looked at them and said, 'We've scored enough points to win. Let's go! Let's be stingy. Let's be stout.'"
That's exactly what Del Rio's group did in the second half.
To begin the third quarter, Washington forced two consecutive punts from the Eagles offense, as Philly was unable to establish any rhythm.
Following a crushing Alex Smith interception, though, the Eagles found themselves in a prime position to take the lead once again. Taking over at the Washington 15-yard line, the Eagles ran six plays before they found themselves faced with fourth-and-goal from the four-yard line.
Rather than taking the three points and tying the game, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson elected to go for it. His decision would backfire. Hurts' pass to Marquez Watkins fell incomplete, ending a promising Philadelphia drive with zero points to show for it.
"We had a turnover in the red zone. Philadelphia was playing to win and went for it on fourth down, and we were able to force the incompletion," Rivera said. "I think that drive to end the first half and that series [on defense] really spoke well to our football team."
After that drive, Hurts was surprisingly pulled from the game in favor of third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Pederson was criticized heavily for his decision, one he would defend postgame.
The move, once again, would not work out for Philadelphia. Sudfeld turned the ball over on his first two possessions under center, ending any chance for the Eagles to pull off the upset and keep Washington out of the playoffs. The Eagles would go the final 30 minutes of their season without scoring a point.
While Washington's offense didn't play well on Sunday, it was Del Rio's defense that once again propelled the Burgundy and Gold to victory.
"They did. They rose up, they bowed their neck," Rivera said.