If Taylor Heinicke and the Washington Commanders were going to do the almost impossible and beat the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles on the road, they needed to play a mistake-free game and control the clock. Three minutes into the game, Ron Rivera has failed at that task.
Starting with the ball at the eight-yard line, two Brian Robinson runs that went next to nowhere were followed by a poor ball from Heinicke intended for Curtis Samuel. Miraculously, a roughing the kicker penalty on the ensuing punt gave the Commanders new life.
The squad proceeded to do…absolutely nothing with this golden opportunity. On the very next play, Heinicke turned the ball over after Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat closed in on him and forced a fumble. Heinicke has at least one turnover in all four of his starts.
The Eagles took a quick 7-0 lead after Hurts was able to punch it in on the ground, giving one of the best teams in the game the cushion Nick Sirianni was looking for. Every time the Commanders end up in primetime, something wacky seems to happen.
Commanders: Taylor Heinicke fumble gifts Eagles lead.
Ball security has been an issue for Heinicke, as he fumbled the ball seven times last year in addition to his 15 interceptions. While he didn’t lose a fumble this year prior to the Philadelphia game, he certainly picked an inopportune time to cough it up.
While Hurts has taken big strides as a passer, the Eagles are at their best when they use the 1-2 punch of their star QB and running back Miles Sanders to chew the clock when they have a lead. Gifting them seven free points and the momentum is a good way to get this rowdy Eagles crowd screaming at the top of their lungs.
While Carson Wentz has had his struggles with turnovers, Heinicke isn’t exactly avoiding mistakes like he’s Tom Brady. With the Eagles blowing the rest of the league out of the water with regard to turnover differential, it looks like their formula for success is working like a charm once again.
At least Washington responded well, making it 7-7 on an Antonio Gibson touchdown.
If the Commanders are going to hold onto whatever slim hopes they have of making the playoffs, Heinicke needs to take care of the ball. There’s no shame in losing to this Eagles team, but there is shame in conceding the lead in such a comical fashion in the first few minutes.
We need more drives like the second one, not the pitiful first one.