Doug Pederson benched QB Jalen Hurts for Nate Sudfeld vs. Washington

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The Eagles’ playoff hopes were extinguished after their 37-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Delaware News Journal

PHILADELPHIA – Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he was trying to win the game even though he benched quarterback Jalen Hurts for third-stringer Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter with the Eagles trailing by three points.

Pederson said he had made the decision before the game that Sudfeld would play at some point in the second half.

He said it had nothing to do with intentionally trying to lose the game. The Eagles lost 20-14 to Washington on Sunday night, finishing their season 4-11-1.

By losing, the Eagles will pick No. 6 overall in the NFL draft. If they had won, they would be picking No. 9.

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Nate Sudfeld plays during the second half against the Washington Football Team. (Photo: Derik Hamilton, AP)

“Yes, I was coaching to win,” Pederson said, adding that no one from management directed him to pull Hurts. “That was my decision solely. Nate has obviously been here for four years, and I felt he deserved an opportunity to get some snaps.”

Still, it seemed rather odd.

If Hurts was surprised in being pulled in a three-point game, he didn’t let on.

“I knew Nate’s worked really hard all year,” Hurts said. “I think he’s a great player and Coach wanted to give him an opportunity at some point in the game … Me being a competitor, I talk about winning all the time, and that’s what I’m all about. I trust Coach with it. That’s all I can do.”

Hurts was 7 of 20 for 72 yards and an interception. He also ran 8 times for 34 yards and two touchdowns, both from 6 yards out.

Hurts’ last play was on a 4th-and-goal from the Washington 4 yard line late in the third quarter, the Eagles trailing 17-14. Pederson decided to pass up a 22-yard field goal that would have tied the game to go for the go-ahead touchdown.

“My mindset down there is when you’re that close, just go ahead and continue to stay aggressive and try to score,” Pederson said.

Hurts, under pressure from Washington’s defensive line, got off a throw to a wide-open Quez Watkins that was just beyond Watkins’ reach as he dove for it.

“Just a throw that Jalen would probably like to have back,” Pederson said, adding that wasn’t the reason why he pulled Hurts.

“I couldn’t get the oomph on it like I wanted to,” Hurts said. “A situation like that, you score a touchdown, it’s a throw that I make often.”

The next time the Eagles got the ball, Sudfeld was in the game.

Sudfeld was only on the game-day roster in the season opener and on Sunday. He had thrown just 25 career passes coming into Sunday, and he does not fit into the Eagles’ longterm plans as a possible starting quarterback.

Sudfeld went 5 of 12 for 32 yards. He threw an interception, lost a fumble on a bad snap and was sacked twice.

Yet there he was, trying to lead the Eagles back from a three-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

He didn’t come close and neither did the Eagles.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.

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