PHILADELPHIA — A.J. Brown saw more than a spark out of Jalen Hurts.
With the Eagles needing to channel the big-play, clutch-in-crunch time machine that powered them to the Super Bowl, Brown saw Hurts bring the heat.
“That fire,” Brown said. “He woke up a little today.”
Hurts threw for 319 yards and hit Brown for two touchdowns, and Jake Elliott kicked a 54-yard field goal in overtime to lift Philadelphia to a 34-31 win over the Washington Commanders on Sunday for its second straight 4-0 start.
Elliott also kicked field goals of 41, 47, and 36 yards before booming the winner that sent the crowd into a frenzy. And kept the Eagles unbeaten.
“My whole career has kind of been a rollercoaster in terms of being in different and unique and unprecedented moments, which you may call pressure and stormy and that fire,” Hurts said. “But that’s what I was born in. I feel like it’s a unique feeling being in those situations because you work so hard and you prepare so hard, and you go through so much to put yourself in a position where you’re comfortable in those moments.”
The Eagles survived a little late-game drama that put them on the brink of being upset at home by the Commanders (2-2) for the second straight season.
Hurts hit Brown for a 28-yard touchdown with 1:28 left in regulation for a 31-24 lead. Instead of killing the clock and trying for a winning field goal, the Eagles left enough time for Sam Howell to lead Washington to the tying score.
Brown was flagged for taunting on his TD, giving the Commanders a boost. Washington started on the Eagles 36 and tied it when Howell hit Jahan Dotson for a 10-yard touchdown as time expired.
Coach Ron Rivera went for the extra point and the tie on the road, a call that sent them knotted 31-all into overtime.
The Commanders did nothing with the ball in OT. Hurts then converted a fourth-down sneak that pushed the Eagles to Washington’s 48-yard line and helped set up the winner.
Sparked by Brown’s nine catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns, the NFC champion Eagles are 4-0 in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1992-93. A year ago, the Eagles’ 8-0 start was spoiled by a home loss to Washington. The Commanders tried it again and led, 17-13, in the third and tied it, 24-24, in the fourth.
Hurts came as close as he has all season to the type of dynamic games that punctuated last season’s run to the Super Bowl. He sure knew how to connect with Brown.
Hurts and Brown are well past a brief spat on the sidelines during the home opener and are instead hooking up for game-changing scores. Hurts hit Brown in stride and the speedy receiver cut across the field and scored a go-ahead 59-yard TD in the third. The Eagles converted the 2-point conversion for a 21-13 lead.
After the Commanders rallied — Brian Robinson Jr.’s 15-yard score made it 24-all — the Eagles responded and Brown hauled in his score.
Howell was 29 of 41 for 290 yards.
“It was definitely a game I think we should have won and we were capable of winning it,” Howell said. “We feel like we can play a lot better and that is a good thing. We were really close against a good team.”
A week after Howell threw four interceptions and was sacked nine times, he went 13 of 17 for 161 yards in the first half behind an offensive line that gave him plenty of time to throw and take a 17-10 lead into the break.
Yes, the Commanders used ball control — they had the ball for 17 minutes in the first half — to get a 1-yard TD run from Curtis Samuel and Terry McLaurin’s fumble recovery in the end zone for a 14-7 lead.
But the Eagles did their best to give away the game. They were penalized six times in the half and two were especially critical. On the game’s opening drive, linebacker Zach Cunningham was whistled for a holding penalty on third and 11. Washington got new life and Samuel scored.
The Eagles also lined up in " tush push " formation at midfield on fourth down, only to have a likely first down thrown out on a holding penalty. The Eagles punted.
D’Andre Swift, who entered second in the NFL in rushing, had a 5-yard score that made it 14-7. Washington’s Joey Slye and Elliott each followed with field goals. Elliott opened the second half with a 47-yarder that cut it to 17-13.
Then the fun really began. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni appreciated the character, trust, and coolness needed for a team to pull out a win like this one.
He could just do without the frayed nerves.
“That’s not good for me when we have to win in overtime,” he said. “There’s a lot of anxiety going into that.”