The Eagles fell to the Redskins 27-22. There are no real moral victories, but despite losing the Eagles played pretty well, all things considered.
After the Eagles looked listless in their loss to the Bengals last week, their effort was questioned, with Doug Pederson eventually admitting that not every player gave it their all.
Not today. Zach Ertz, criticized for not trying to block Vontaze Burfict during a Carson Wentz scramble last week and a season of failing to extend plays, fought for yards after every catch. Nelson Agholor, benched for bad play three weeks ago, had his best game of the season since the season opener. Fletcher Cox, criticized for not producing since the team’s 3-0 start, had 1.5 sacks. Leodis McKelvin, criticized for poor play, had an interception returned for a touchdown. The Eagles were a motivated and hard fighting team on Sunday.
As mentioned, Ertz silenced the deserved criticism of his play from last week. He caught 10 passes for 112 yards, gaining extra yardage on nearly all of catches. His block in the back was a bad penalty that wiped out a Darren Sproles touchdown, however that illegal block is what sprung Sproles. Ertz gave total effort, but still lent credence to the criticism of him only playing his best in December.
Burton had a career game: a career high 7 catches, four of which gained a first down, for a career high 65 yards, and a pinch hit long snap after Jon Dorenbos and his long snapping replacement Brent Celek went down with injuries. Had the Eagles won, he would have deserved a game ball.
Wentz had two bad turnovers but otherwise had a strong game. He had a career high 314 yards, spreading the ball out to seven different pass catchers. His first quarter interception in the end zone was a bad decision and throw. His fourth quarter fumble came at the worst time and will be credited to him, but it was on Matt Tobin for completely failing to block Ryan Kerrigan. With in-game injuries piling up and an inconsistent and depleted running game, Wentz was a big reason why the Eagles were in position to win the game with seconds left on the clock. With rookies you have to take the good with the bad, and with the roster the Eagles finished the game with, there’s going to be bad.
Depth has been a problem all season, and today it had a significant domino effect.
-The Eagles offense fielded a starting lineup that half resembled a preseason finale. Paul Turner, Isaac Seumalo and Stefen Wisneiwski started, with Allen Barbre again starting at right tackle rather than his usual left guard. Before kickoff, the already struggling offense was behind the eight ball.
-Jon Dorenbos’s injury meant Brent Celek was forced to long snap, and his bad snap denied Caleb Sturgis a field goal attempt, which in turn denied the Eagles the chance to attempt a field goal to win the game and forced them to go for a touchdown on the final drive.
-Darren Sproles’ injury when he was hit before he could field a punt (and Wendell Smallwood’s injury earlier in the game) meant that Ryan Mathews had to play every snap to finish out the game. Wentz had to further carry the offense without one of the best pass catching running backs in the league available as an option. On the final drive of the game a pass to Mathews with space a head of him went just out of his hands, perhaps with Sproles in the pass is completed, or a RB screen to take advantage of the Redskins sending pressure could have been called.
-Brandon Brooks was a late scratch due to illness for the second time in three games. This forced Isaac Seumalo to start at right guard at the last minute, the Eagles could not find any consistency running against a Redskins run defense that has struggled.
-Allen Barbre went down with an injury, forcing Matt Tobin to play, he was beat by Ryan Kerrigan, who forced a game winning fumble.
The Eagles best receiver had 8 catches for 79 yards, but could have had more and the win. He failed to get two feet in bounds on a perfect strike by Carson Wentz in the end zone, two plays later Wentz threw an interception.
The Eagles defense was significantly better than the previous Redskins game, but it still had issues.
-The Eagles gave up touchdown runs of 25 and 22 yards to Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson, respectively, the rest of the game they gave up just 54 yards on 17 carries. In fairness, Thompson’s touchdown with 1:53 left to go gave the Eagles a chance to win the game, a stop probably would have seen Washington run the clock down and try a game winning field goal attempt.
-DeSean Jackson’s 80 yard touchdown was a back breaker and was nearly one third of Kirk Cousin’s total yardage, and Jamison Crowder added a 33 yard pass on the Redskins final, game leading drive.
With a depleted offense, the big plays were too much to overcome.