Eagles feature

Call in the closers: Eagles get clutch plays late in win over Commanders

The Eagles got a couple of clutch plays from Haason Reddick and Reed Blankenship in their win over the Commanders.

NBC Universal, Inc. Reed Blankenship talks about about being thankful for the pivotal interception against the Commanders after failing to get the job done in the first half.

LANDOVER, Md. — Feel free to call Haason Reddick the closer.

Just don’t expect him to parrot it back. Because he’s not exactly sure what to say when someone brings up the clutch gene.

“You said it, not me,” Reddick said after the Eagles’ 38-31 win over the Commanders on Sunday afternoon. “I just go out there and I try to play ball until it’s all zeroes on the clock in the fourth quarter. 

“Just extremely blessed to be able to make those plays. To have the ability to make those plays. Just blessed. That’s all I can really say about it. It’s just me trying to be relentless and give effort.”

Reddick on Sunday got a huge sack on Commanders quarterback Sam Howell on 4th-and-5 with just 2:18 left in the game. It pretty much iced the win. Entering Week 8, Howell had been sacked an NFL-high 40 times but the Eagles were being shut out in that department on Sunday.

Until Reddick finally got a 1-on-1, beat his man and got to Howell.

That strip-sack and a Reed Blankenship interception earlier in the fourth quarter were two highlights from a day that will otherwise be pretty forgettable for the Eagles’ defense. This is the same defense that dominated the high-flying Dolphins a week ago but somehow surrendered nearly 400 passing yards to Howell on Sunday. Funny sport.

Despite all their shortcomings on the defensive side of the ball on Sunday, when the Eagles absolutely needed plays on Sunday, they got them. First from Blankenship and then from Reddick.

At this point, it shouldn’t surprise anyone when these plays come from Reddick. He leads the Eagles with 6 1/2 sacks through 8 games this season and it’s worth noting that 4 1/2 of those sacks have come in the fourth quarter.

What allows Reddick to play as hard as he does late in games? He has an idea and it goes beyond motor, D-line rotation and taking care of his body.

“It’s the want-to. It’s the will. I have that,” Reddick said. “I try not to get discouraged in games when frustrating things are happening. I continue to play ball until there’s no more time on the clock. 

“But man, it’s a will, it’s a want-to, it’s determination. The game means so much to me. A lot of people do this thing to have fun. Man, I’m doing this because I’m trying to leave something behind. I’m literally trying to be the best at what I do … and that pushes me. That’s what drives me more than anything.”

Reddick was able to overcome a frustrating start to Sunday’s game and make a play in the fourth quarter, which sounds awfully similar to Blankenship’s experience in this game.

Overall, it wasn’t a good outing for the second-year safety. Blankenship made his return to the starting lineup after missing last week with a ribs injury and didn’t play well for most of the afternoon.

“Honestly, I take this game kind of personal,” Blankenship said. “Didn’t get a lot of my job done today.”

So when he got a chance to pick off Howell with a little over 8 minutes left in the game, he didn’t squander it. Blankenship intercepted the pass and a couple plays later the Eagles punched in a touchdown to take a 31-24 lead, their first lead in the game.

Howell on Sunday completed 75% of his passes for 397 yards with 4 touchdowns. It felt like for most of this game, the young quarterback just refused to make a mistake.

So when he finally did, the Eagles had to make the most of it.

“We were just waiting to capitalize on the opportunity and the opportunity came,” Blankenship said. “You just gotta make a play on the ball. Especially that crucial point in the game.”

That was Blankenship’s second interception of the season and one of the biggest plays of this game.

It even got the seal of approval from the Eagles’ resident closer.

“We needed it. Big play,” Reddick said. “They were hitting us with quick little passes, dinking and doinking us. Finally, Reed was able to pick him off on it and extremely happy that he made the play. We needed the play and he was there to make it.”

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