October 1, 2020

Washington Redskins avoid another disappointing blown lead with late comeback over Eagles


In just the fourth game of the regular season, the Washington Redskins were already in a must-win situation if they wished to stay relevant in the weakened NFC East. With their second straight divisional opponent in the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington knew the magnitude of the game.

The Redskins got off to another hot start in the first half, before having a let down in the third quarter possibly due to injuries to Chris Culliver and Ryan Kerrigan. Before it was too late, the Redskins did something they rarely have done lately: they came back to win the football game after losing all momentum. Washington is 2-2 and looking for a possibility to be tied for first place in the NFC East after a 23-20 victory over the Eagles.

Things looked to be bad early as the Redskins were called for two penalties for two yards within the first three plays of receiving the football. On a third-and-19 draw play for the Redskins, the team got an unexpected jolt from third down running back Chris Thompson, who rumbled up the middle for 42 yards on a conservative delayed draw. After converting on two more third downs, the Redskins would have to settle for a chip shot field goal after failing to punch it into the end zone on third-and-goal from the 2.

After a three-and-out forced by the defense culminating in a Chris Baker sack, the Redskins were set up with good field position. However, the offense failed to convert on a third down, as Jamison Crowder was unable to get both feet in bounds on a wheel route to the end zone. The front seven of the defense was harassing Bradford, stalling the Eagles next two drives with pressure from an unblocked Ryan Kerrigan and then another Baker sack.

Kirk Cousins started the next drive by methodically picking his spots and continued to convert on third down. After already having two catches on the drive, the Redskins targeted Ryan Grant in the end zone on a third-and-8 play that resulted in Eagles’ Eric Rowe being called for pass interference. Two plays later on a dropped snap, Cousins was able to think quickly on his feet and just find a little bit of a crease to sneak into the end zone. Washington was surprising many by being up 13-0 with just over five minutes remaining on the first half.

The Eagles then started to heat up with a 45-yard, one-handed catch by rookie Nelson Agholor against Chris Culliver. On the very next play, the Redskins caught a break when Agholor fumbled the double-reverse from Ryan Matthews. However after a three-and-out by the offense, Darren Sproles bursted on to the scene with a 45-yard punt return setting the Eagles back up past the point where they had just fumbled. The defense held strong again with a sack from rookie Preston Smith and after a missed field goal by Eagles’ new kicker Caleb Sturgis the Redskins had their third straight double digit halftime lead at home this season, up 13-0.

Philadelphia knew they had to get something going offensively and started with back to back conversion on third down including a scramble by Bradford for a 14 yard pick up. When the defense finally looked to have rebounded by forcing a 2nd and 20 play, Bradford dropped back and had enough time to deliver a deep ball to Riley Cooper who beat Culliver and Trenton Robinson on what seemed to be a miscommunication. After Sturgis missed another “33-yarder” on the PAT the Eagles were down just 13-6.

Things continued to go wrong for the Redskins, who were forced to punt after Darrel Young could not get a mere half-yard on third down. Then, after a personal foul on recently promoted Quinton Dunbar for making contact with Sproles on a fair catch, reception over the middle to Jordan Matthews and incorrect targeting penalty against Trenton Robinson, the Eagles were in the red zone. Two plays later, Sam Bradford found Brent Celek wide open for a walk-in touchdown to tie the game after Ryan Kerrigan whiffed on his sack potential. Kerrigan had left the game with a hip injury and if that limited him, his withholding of that information from the coaches cost his team seven points.

Cousins came back by converting a deep pass to Rashad Ross for 43 yards, but was unable to get any kind of yards after the catch as the Michigan State product did not have the arm to lead him to the end zone. Jamison Crowder then made a highlight-reel catch in triple coverage jumping way up in the air to convert a third-and-13, but the Redskins would again have to settle for a Dustin Hopkins field goal.

After the defense got back on track by forcing a three-and-out, where Jason Hatcher had an effective rush on the quarterback, the Redskins looked to extend their lead. After getting behind on the down and distance with 2nd and 16, the Redskins would end up converting on another third down misdirection play. Two plays later, disaster would unfold when Jordan Reed fumbled the football after a short grab setting up the Eagles in great field position.

After another incorrect targeting penalty against Trenton Robinson — he hit teammate Will Compton in the head not Zach Ertz — Bradford dropped back to go deep again. The Eagles targeted Chris Culliver, who was clearly not 100% after dealing with some knee soreness, this time with ex-Cowboy Miles Austin. With DaShon Goldson out of position, Bradford was able to drop it in the bucket for an easy touchdown giving the Eagles their first lead at 20-13.

Cousins tried to will his team back into a score. He started the drive off with two 12 yard receptions to Crowder and a screen to Garcon that drew a 15-yard personal foul penalty. The team would follow up with negative one yards on the next three plays and moronically opted to punt from the Eagles 35-yard line. If the team was not confident in Dustin Hopkins‘ ability from 53 yards they should have called a draw play on third-and-11 to make it a little bit closer instead of a 15-yard net punt.

Then with everyone thinking the Redskins had waster away another double digit lead, Cousins had other things in mind. After the defense got the ball back for the offense to go to work, the Redskins had the ball with 6:05 to go and needing 90 yards for a touchdown. Alfred Morris finally got on a role with 38 yards on four carries to put Cousins in Eagles territory. Then the gun slinger in Cousins came alive with multiple dangerous passes, but every single time he trusted that his receiver would fight harder for the ball and they did. Pierre Garcon burst on the scene with two catches of double digit yard gains setting up the Redskins with first and goal from the four yard line. Two plays later, Cousins drilled home another dart to the end zone that was hauled in by Garcon in tight coverage!


The Redskins regained the lead at 23-20 with 26 seconds, but the Eagles did have three timeouts. The pressure from the Redskins defense, while just rushing four, returned as back to back sacks from Trent Murphy and then Ryan Kerrigan. On the final play of the game, the Eagles hoped for magic with the hook and ladder but a cross field lateral was “intercepted” by Murphy to end the game.

It was not the Super Bowl, but FedEx Field was rocking for one of the first times since the 2012 season. If the Cowboys lose tonight to the Saints, the Redskins could see themselves in a tie for first place in the NFC East! There is still clearly much to work on, mainly the elimination of self-inflicted penalties, but for now Washington can celebrate the victory before returning focus to the dangerously hot Atlanta Falcons next week.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.


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