Closing off their first three-game road stretch since Weeks 9-11 of the 2002 season, the Washington Redskins narrowly defeated division rival, Philadelphia Eagles by a final score of 27-22. With the victory, the Redskins ended a two-game losing skid, and improved to 7-5-1, while the Eagles dropped to 5-8.
The win gives the Redskins five straight victories against Philadelphia for the first time since a six-game streak across the 1981-84 seasons. The Redskins claimed consecutive road wins over the Eagles for the first time since the 2007-08 seasons. Additionally, the Redskins’ 42 road wins against the Eagles are their most against any opponent.
The Eagles received the ball first to begin the contest, and a combination of quick throws and play action runs moved the home team deep into Redskins territory. However, the drive stalled at the 27, and Caleb Sturgis converted a 45-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
After the Washington went three and out, Quinton Dunbar was beat badly down the left sideline and flagged for pass interference, setting up Philadelphia at the Redskins 36-yard line. After moving down to the 3, Deshazor Everett stepped up and made the first big defensive play of the game, picking off a Carson Wentz pass intended for Zach Ertz in the middle of the end zone to end the drive. The interception was Everett’s first of the season.
Dustin Hopkins missed his league-high 7th field goal of the season, a 38-yard attempt after the offense moved 60 yards into Eagles territory, to keep the game at a 3-point deficit. Despite being a reliable stalwart to start the season, Hopkins converted just 13 of his last 19 field goal attempts in recent weeks.
With the Philadelphia offense facing a 4th-and-3 on the 13-yard line, Jason Peters false started, the league-high 45th pre-snap penalty of the year for the Eagles. Sturgis made it 6-0 after booting home the 36-yard attempt with 10:31 remaining in the second quarter.
Washington looked in sync on their next drive for the first time in the game, as they marched 69 yards on 10 plays, capped off by a weaving 22-yard touchdown run from Rob Kelley, giving the Redskins their first lead of the day at 7-6.
41 of the yards on the drive were courtesy of Kelley who was involved in five of the plays on the scoring march.
The lead though, was short-lived. Philadelphia marched down the field with relative ease, traversing 77 yards over 12 plays in 3:39 resulting in a four yard touchdown catch by Darren Sproles in the back corner of the end zone behind Bashaud Breeland, making it 13-7 in favor of the Eagles heading into the half.
The key stat of the first half was the Redskins defense inability to get off the field on third down. They allowed the Eagles to convert on six of their nine attempts, and gave up more than 7 yards on 3rd down on five occasions. In addition, Philadelphia outpaced the Washington in first downs, 14 to 8, with 11 coming through the air. The Eagles also dominated time of possession 18:11 to 11:49, though they went into the second half with just a six point lead.
After entering the contest with the fewest three-and-outs in the NFL (12), Washington had it happen for the second time in the game to begin the third quarter. A Darren Sproles punt return for a touchdown was called back after Zach Ertz committed a block in the back penalty, negating the score.
With rumors the past few weeks swirling about the Eagles desire to bring back DeSean Jackson, "The One That Got Away," should he become a free agent in the offseason, Jackson showed his former team exactly what they were missing, collecting in an 80-yard touchdown catch to push the lead back to 1 point, 14-13.
With the score Jackson moved past Devin Hester (21 for sole possession of of second-most total touchdowns of 60 yards or more in NFL history. Jackson is now just two shy of Jerry Rice (23) for the all-time record. In addition, the catch tied Steve Smith, Sr. (26) for fourth in total touchdowns of 50 yards or more in the NFL since the 1970 merger. Jackson also tallied a reception of 50 yards or more in a third consecutive game for the first time since Weeks 6-8 of the 2009 season while playing for Philadelphia.
With injuries starting to pile up, the Eagles sensed blood in the water. After failing to move the chains on third down from the Redskins 36-yard line, coach Doug Pederson rolled the dice on fourth down, and the gamble paid off as Zach Ertz converted a first down catch.
With long-snapper/ television magician, Jon Dorenbos, on the sideline with a wrist injury, Brent Celek filled in on the 50-yard field goal attempt. He put the ball into the feet of the holder who was swallowed up by Josh Norman at the 46-yard line for a turnover on downs.
A 21-yard catch by Jackson, which stood up upon further review, brought him over the 100-yard plateau and into Eagles territory.
DeSean Jackson sideline catch— Chad Ryan (@ChadwikoRCC) December 11, 2016
Ruled a catch on-field
(Eagles will lose, because that is a pretty catch!) pic.twitter.com/zFjLuRqZj4
Rob Kelley picked up 24 yards over the next two plays to move inside the red zone, but struggles inside the opposing 20 did not repeat themselves, as Pierre Garcon created separation in the back corner of the end zone as Cousins dropped the pass in his lap on the fade route, making it 21-13.
The score brought Garçon even with Jean Fugett for 12th on the franchise's touchdown reception list (21), just one away from Rod Gardner for 11th place all time.
On the ensuing drive, Kirk Cousins’ first mistake of the day was a big one. Cousins floated a pass out to Jackson on an out route, but Leodis Mckelvin jumped in the way, picking it off and running it the interception in for the 29-yard score.
With concerns about long-snapper health following an injury to the backup Celek, the Eagles went for two but Norman stripped the ball away from Jordan Matthews, allowing the Redskins to maintain a two-point lead, 21-19 with 13:11 remaining in regulation.
After a booming defenseless hit on Darren Sproles by Deshazor Everett on a Tress Way punt, the boo birds were fired up as the Eagles took over on their own 30-yard line.
Deshazor Everett hits a defenseless Darren Sproles pic.twitter.com/uvX1XQJXB5— The Cauldron (ICYMI) (@CauldronICYMI) December 11, 2016
Another third down conversion to Ertz moved into Redskin territory, where they followed up on a rugby scrum fourth down conversion to the 32-yard line. Without a healthy long snapper, facing another 4th-and-1 at the 21 yard line, the Eagles held a very abbreviated tryout on the sideline and tapped tight end Trey Burton to come on in the position for the first time in his career, as Sturgis converted from 41 yards out, putting the Eagles back in front 22-21 with 4:59 remaining.
Another week, another catch rule frame-by-frame analysis playing a huge role, as Jamison Crowder’s initially ruled incomplete pass was overturned by challenge and gave the Redskins 33 yards into Eagles territory. After a timeout, followed by a broken play on 3rd-and-1, followed by another timeout, Cousins fitted a pass into a tight window as Pierre Garcon sat down in the zone coverage, and picked up six to keep the drive alive.
Out of the two minute warning, Chris Thompson went off the left side behind Trent Williams in his first week back from suspension, and marched in for the score.
The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Redskins took a five point advantage 27-22, with 1:53 left to go in the 4th quarter.
In a very familiar setting, trying to protect a lead late in the contest (see: week 7 @ Detroit, Week 10 v. Minnesota) the Redskins defense took the field, seeking to stop an Eagles offense that had moved the chains to great effect on the afternoon. Three quick first downs through the air advanced Philadelphia down to the Washington 27-yard line with 42 seconds left in regulation. Two straight incomplete passes put the Eagles into another 3rd down and 10 situation with 35 seconds remaining, and out of the timeout Wentz connected with Ertz for 13 yards, to move to the 14-yard line.
On 2nd and 10 with 21 seconds left on the clock, Ryan Kerrigan made the play of the day, the blitz was on as he stripped Carson Wentz of the football, Trent Murphy pounced on top of the lose fumble sealing the 27-22 victory.
Kirk Cousins finished 14-of-21 for 234 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. On the afternoon, he became the first Redskins quarterback with over 4,000 passing yards in multiple seasons. In addition, he moved past Jason Campbell (327 in 2009) for second-most completions in a single Redskins season, while entering the top 10 in team history in touchdown passes in a year, while also throwing a touchdown pass in a 12th straight game to tie for the fifth-longest streak in franchise history.
Facing off against his former team, DeSean Jackson was the leading receiver with 3 grabs for 102 yards and an 80-yard score. Chipping in on the action in the receiving game were Pierre Garcon (5 catches, 59 yards, 1 touchdown) and Jamison Crowder (2 receptions, 37 yards).
Jackson recorded his 10th 100- yard receiving game to tie Henry Ellard (10) for ninth-most in Redskins history, while Garcon passed Michael Westbrook (4,280) for 10th-most career receiving yards in team history. Vernon Davis with his one reception also became 12th TE in NFL history to reach 500 receptions on his career.
Jamison Crowder set a single-season career high in receptions surpassing his 59 in 2015. His 767 receiving yards and 7 receiving touchdowns this season were already career highs coming into the game. He also now claims sole possession of second-most receptions by a member of the Redskins during a player's first two NFL seasons, surpassing Rod Gardner.
Behind an injury-depleted offensive line, Rob Kelley recorded 16 rushes for 63 yards and a score, while Chris Thompson added 3 carries for 38 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
With their performance, the Redskins tied a team record by exceeding 300 yards of offense in a 17th consecutive regular season game, dating back to last season, for the first time since the 1987-88 seasons.
Defensively, the Redskins were led by Mason Foster who recorded 12 tackles, 3 for a loss, and 1 sack. Duke Ihenacho and Donte Whitner each chipped in 8 stops, while Deshazor Everett’s up and down day was highlighted by an interception. Trent Murphy only recorded two tackles, but his fumble recovery off of Kerrigan’s strip-sack clinched the victory as the Eagles were marching in the game’s final moments.
Kerrigan entered the Top 10 in sacks in a single season in team history, and posted a sack in a fourth consecutive game for the second time this season (Weeks 5-8).
The defense though had their struggles on the afternoon, allowing the Eagles to convert 9 of the 18 attempts on 3rd down, and 2 of 3 on 4th down. Philadelphia also out-possessed Washington 36:38 to 23:22.
In addition, Washington was unable to escape with the victory unscathed, as Jay Gruden confirmed in after the game that Su'a Cravens (biceps) and Will Compton (knee) will need MRIs, while RB Mack Brown is in concussion protocol.
Carson Wentz finished his afternoon 32-of-46, for 314 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He was also sacked four times. His leading receiver was Zach Ertz who recorded 10 catches for 112 yards, while Jordan Matthews hauled in 8 catches for 78 yards, and Trey Burton had 65 yards on 7 grabs.
The Eagles were inconsistent running the ball, tallying just 95 yards on 26 carries.
With the victory, Head Coach Jay Gruden's became the ninth coach in team history to reach 20 wins, joining Joe Gibbs (171), George Allen (79), Ray Flaherty (56), Norv Turner (50) Joe Kuharich (26), Jack Pardee (24), Mike Shanahan (24) and Bill McPeak (21).
Despite a very ugly first half of play, the Redskins furious comeback in the second half elevated them to the much-needed division win, and was a huge boost to their postseason hopes. There were five lead changes in the contest, but the last one was what mattered most, as both the Redskins' offense and defensive units did enough to earn the victory in the game’s final moments.
A huge defensive bend-but-don’t-break stand sees Washington close out a very difficult three-game road streak with a win. They will look to carry their momentum into next week in Landover, as the reigning NFC-champion Carolina Panthers come to town in what figures to be another season-defining matchup in the march to a post-season berth.