As the Eagles dominated Commanders, green-clad fans dominated FedEx Field
Many Eagles fans said they still appreciate things about Wentz — his faith, his family values and the instrumental role he played in the lead up to the Super Bowl victory in February 2018 — but almost all said they were eager to heckle him.
“I’m here to boo Carson Wentz’s ass,” said Rita Decimo, a 64-year-old retiree wearing a miniature Eagles top hat and Eagles stickers under her eyes. “He wanted to get out of [Philadelphia]. He complained of being an Eagle. Stop the fridge then.
“I’m sober, by the way,” she added, pointing to her can of Liquid Death sparkling water.
Over the past two decades, as Washington’s fan base has decayed, opposing fans have regularly filled empty seats at FedEx Field — and perhaps none more so than Eagles fans. The 100-mile drive south on Interstate 95 led to regular takeovers of the stadium, and in the pockets of the stands, some Commanders season ticket holders had to move to avoid travelers. On Sunday, the Eagles had a significant crowd advantage of 64,426, and there was no escaping them or their buzz on Wentz.
Carson Wentz, sacked nine times, and the commanders fail against the Eagles
In the end, however, the mockery was modest. FedEx Field operations avoided the obvious landmines — they introduced defense, not offense, on the loudspeakers, for example — and while Wentz struggled mightily in the 24-8 loss, his performance made mockery almost useless. Arguably the loudest boos Wentz heard came around 90 minutes before the game, when he ran onto the pitch for warm-ups.
“I was obviously on that side of the ball. I know Eagles fans travel well, and they showed up and had a lot to cheer about today,” said Wentz, who completed 25 of 43 passes for 211 yards and had nine sacks. “We didn’t play our best ball, and I didn’t play my best ball.”
In the parking lot, Eagles tailgaters outnumbered Commanders fans. Even team-sponsored features, such as the HBCU hatchback, were burgundy and gold entries among a sea of green. Philadelphia had such a strong presence in part because larger fan experience companies — such as Philly Sports Trips, Phans of Philly, and the Green Legion — carried a few thousand fans. Several said they paid around $350 for a round-trip bus ticket, lower seats, an open bar, food and personalized t-shirts.
The game has also attracted smaller groups — like 717 Rec, a cornhole league from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Tim Hollenback, the organizer, said the group had made a few other trips but struggled to find 50 tickets together at most stadiums.
“It’s impossible to get a crew of 56 that can get a ticket to the game in Philadelphia,” he said. “You can’t do it physically. For us, it’s much easier to get tickets here.
Four takeaways from the Commanders’ 24-8 loss to the Eagles
A few steps away, Ray Flournoy, a subscriber to Washington since the 1980s, sat in front of his motorhome, his eyes glued to the crowd. He didn’t think he had ever seen so many opposing supporters at the stadium for a match. A truck drove by with a large video screen in the back proclaiming FedEx Field as occupied territory – “Lincoln Financial Field South”.
“Unfortunately, you get used to it,” Flournoy said sullenly.
On the game’s first set, Wentz ran down the field to what sounded like haunting calls of “Carrrr-son!” But after the Commanders punted and Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts ran down the field, there were louder calls of “EAGLES: EAGLES!” Some fans brought duct tape, joking that they would protect Hurts from the railing that collapsed near him last season.
After the game, coach Ron Rivera and several commanders, including left tackle Charles Leno Jr., said they didn’t think Eagles fans were affecting Wentz. But in another abysmal first half, as the quarterback rushed to extend plays, occasionally picking up sacks and fumbling once — his worst Philadelphia traits showing up in Washington for the first time — he It was hard not to wonder why the mostly disciplined and methodical quarterback of the first two weeks was gone.
At halftime, Washington was leading 24-0, and at least one Commanders fan had gone to the birds: He watched the players running off the field and raised his two middle fingers.
Although the crowd didn’t particularly bother Wentz, it clearly disrupted the attack. On a few occasions, Terry McLaurin said, the noise forced commanders to change the number of shots.
“We get paid to play football, and [we] trying to control what happens on the pitch,” McLaurin added. “We don’t necessarily have control over [what’s going on in the stands]. But you could definitely see a lot of greenery there.
Midway through the fourth quarter, heavy clouds darkened the stadium and rain began to fall. After the attack failed to convert fourth and 22, many of the Commanders fans headed for the exits as those in green and black jerseys taunted them.
“Bye Bye!” they shouted while singing the team record: “1-2! 1-2!”