Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson not only enraged many Eagles fans he also caused fury among New York Giants fans when he surprisingly benched starting quarterback Jalen Hurts on Sunday.
In the fourth quarter of the Eagles' regular-season finale against Washington, Pederson put backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld in the game to replace Jalen Hurts, who had been struggling. Hurts completed only seven of 20 pass attempts for 72 yards and an interception, but he had rushed for two touchdowns.
Sudfeld was not an improvement over Jalen Hurts. He threw an interception lost a fumble during his first two possessions. He finished 5 of 12 for 32 yards passing.
Sudfeld's first turnover was an interception thrown to Washington safety Jeremy Reaves. The second was a low snap that got past the quarterback and into the hands of Washington rookie defensive end Chase Young.
Washington won the game, 20-14, clinching the NFC East division title and a playoff berth.
Washington's win also eliminated the New York Giants from playoff contention. The Giants beat the Dallas Cowboys earlier in the day and would've claimed the NFC East with a Washington loss.
The Philadelphia-Washington outcome didn't matter for the Eagles, who had already been eliminated from playoff contention last week. But it was crucial for the Giants, who happen to be rivals of the Eagles.
When the Eagles benched Jalen Hurts, even members of the Giants wondered if their NFC East rivals were intentionally trying to ruin their playoff chances. (In their defense, the Eagles also have a rivalry with Washington.)
Giants fans watched their potential NFC East title burst in flames as Washington took the path to victory.
Would the Eagles have won the game with Jalen Hurts?
There are also debates about whether Pederson benched Jalen Hurts for third-stringer Sudfeld because of his struggle on the field or possibly tanked his own team for a shot at a higher draft pick in 2021.
However, Pederson claimed his decision to make the switch was decided before the game started. Pederson intended that Sudfeld would play sometime during the second half. He was switched in towards the end of the fourth quarter.
Pederson felt that Sudfeld had been with the team long enough (four years) and he deserved an opportunity to get some snaps in.
Jalen Hurts' final play was on 4th-and-goal from Washington's 4-yard line late in the third quarter, with the Eagles lagging behind 17-14. Pederson chose that moment to pass up a 22-yard field goal that could have tied the game.
Sudfeld was not an improvement, practically gifting Washington two takeaways in his first series.
With opening day starting QB Carson Wentz inactive, Jalen Hurts running was the Eagles' chance to win despite his struggles throwing the ball against Washington's secondary.
The Eagles finished the season 4-11-1 and will have the No. 6 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.