Washington advances to playoffs with win against Philadelphia.

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Defensive end Chase Young looks to sack the Eagles’ quarterback.

Brittyn Leonard, Co-editor-in-chief

The NFC East has been up in the air all season, as teams competed for a spot in the playoffs. Teams like the Dallas Cowboys, the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Giants, and the Washington Football Team held tight games as their rivalries grew stronger. With the divisional champion still unknown, it came down to the final week of the regular season to determine who was going to take the spot in the playoffs.

Coming down to the week 17 game, Sunday night football had a lot more at stake than usual. If Washington could beat the Eagles, they would win the division and be awarded a spot in the playoffs. Winning also meant they would have home field advantage in week one of the playoffs. If Philadelphia won, New York would advance to the playoffs, after beating Dallas earlier in the day. A lot was riding on this game as teams and fans nervously watched the two compete.

Early in the game, Washington took a 10-0 lead, being led by Quarterback Alex Smith, who had missed previous games due to a calf injury. With running back Antonio Gibson and wide receiver Terry McLaurin also back from injuries, Washington looked like they were going to take this one early.

Eagles quarterback, rookie Jalen Hurts, showed he was not going to give up that easily and quickly changed the pace of the game, rushing for two touchdowns and giving the Eagles a 10-14 lead. With a last minute touchdown by Washington, they made the score 17-14 going into halftime.

After the half, Washington kicked a field goal to make it 20-14 and the Eagles had a chance to take the lead. With this, fans could not believe what the coaching staff had decided to do. After missing the chance to tie the game earlier in the half by going for it on fourth down and resulting in a turnover, the coaches decided to bench Hurts. No one could quite understand why they did this, as it looked like they somewhat had given up the game and the rest of their season.

As the Giants were relying on the Eagles win, watching them give the game up was hard, as New York saw their playoff chances dwindle. They took to Twitter to show their emotions, as players like Peyton Manning tweeted, “this is why we do not like the eagles,” and Darius Slayton tweeted, “this is sickening.”

In addition to Giants players, Mina Kimes, a NFL analyst at ESPN, also added her opinion on the game saying, “Doug Peterson woke up today and chose violence.” Implying that Coach Peterson was going to get a lot of hate for his decision.

Although some may say he was throwing the game and giving up by benching his quarterback, Coach Peterson told reporters late Sunday night after the game, “I was coaching to win.”

No matter how fans and players might say the game went this is a huge accomplishment for the Washington Football team. Advancing to the playoffs and winning their division was not what they may have thought in the beginning of the season. With a 1-5 record to start their season, inconsistent quarterbacks, a new coach, and changes to their matchups, Alex Smith has had a huge impact on the team’s offense this season. Smith suffered an almost career ending injury after completely snapping his leg back in 2018. After undergoing 17 surgeries, it looked like his career might be over. After returning to the team and soon after becoming the team’s starting quarterback, he has led his team to their first divisional championship since 2015.

With Smith’s leadership on the offense, defensively that leadership has to be credited to potential rookie of the year, Chase Young. The young defensive end has shown up big in key games this year for Washington and looks to continue his success later into the post season. Full of muscle and adrenaline, this duo will be deadly to any team planning to cross the Washington football team.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will travel to Washington to take on Alex Smith and the rest of the team next Saturday in the first round of the playoffs.