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Eagles-Redskins Postgame: The Grinch
Well, at least now Philly fans don't need to worry about rooting for the Dallas Cowboys to lose in order to get the Eagles into the playoffs. That's because the Eagles choked in embarrassing fashion in losing to the Washington Redskins 27-24 on Saturday night and all but eliminated themselves from the playoffs.
Heck, it's probably better that this Eagles team lost now, rather than torture their fanbase with false hopes that they could make the playoffs.
The Eagles lost this game to a team with nothing to play for and only marginal talent. They lost because Chip Kelly got pass-happy again, Bradley Fletcher continued his season-long trend of not being able to cover anyone, Cody Parkey missed two field goals after only missing two in the first 14 games of the season and Mark Sanchez absolutely stinks.
The Redskins managed to win a game when their QB, Robert Griffin III completed only 16 of 23 passes for 220 yards, with no TDs and one bad interception. More than half of those yards were to DeSean Jackson (4 receptions for 126 yards), who miraculously looked healthy again after dogging it for the last month. That's nothing new for Jackson. His career is defined by the occasional spectacular game among stretches where he looks disinterested and lacking in effort. Anyway, the Redskins coaches didn't even really have to try to outsmart Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Billy Davis. All they had to do was look out on the field and see CB Bradley Fletcher out there and target him repeatedly.
Chipper must have taken a trip to see the Wizard for a brain and eventually benched Fletcher with 10:26 left in the game, but the damage was already done...as usual.
The game started off with a Sanchez turnover. This is a recording.
The only difference this time is that it wasn't really Sanchez's fault that he fumbled, as RT Lane Johnson got beat like a rented mule by Ryan Kerrigan and the Redskins recovered at the Eagles' 47 yard line. Luckily, the Eagles defense actually held Washington to a Kai Forbath FG. The Eagles answered with a nice 10-play, 70-yard drive that ended with LeSean McCoy's 11-yard TD run to give the Eagles a 7-3 lead. Unfortunately, that's when RGIII noticed Fletcher on the field and decided he might as well abuse him like every other QB in the NFL has this season.
DeSean Jackson beat Fletcher on a 51-yard catch and then Alfred Morris scored on a 28-yard TD run on the next play to give the Redskins a 10-7 lead. The Eagles managed to take the lead back with a 15-play, 93-yard drive that ended with a Riley Cooper (remember him?) 3-yard TD reception.
That was the score at the half, but it should have been more. With the Eagles at the Redskins' 41 yard line and only 16 second left in the first half, Kelly decided to punt the ball. I don't care what stupid answer Chip gives to explain why he didn't try attempt a 58-yard FG. It was a gutless move by a guy whose reputation as an innovative risk-taker has turned into complete fiction this season. Plus, he has a kicker who is 4-for-4 on FG attempts of 50+ yards.
The Eagles managed to recover a Washington fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, but came up empty when Parkey pushed a chip-shot, 34-yard FG attempt wide right. After that, the referees decided that they obviously needed more face time on the television broadcast.
The Eagles were called for two phantom roughing the passer penalties on the ensuing drive that gift wrapped a 1-yard TD for Washington fullback Darrel Young. A drive that should have only been a FG attempt, instead gave the Redskins a 17-14 lead.
The Eagles faced a 4th-and-1 at the Redskins 29 yard line, but Kelly came up small again and settled for another FG attempt. It was fitting that Parkey pushed yet another one wide left after his head coach showed absolutely no faith in an offense that led the NFL in rushing just last season. Then RGIII and the Redskins coaches decided they should just stop fooling around and win the game by throwing at Bradley Fletcher again. Jackson beat Fletcher for a 55-yard completion down to the Eagles 13 yard line and then Nate Allen committed a pass interference penalty in the endzone to give the Redskins the ball at the 1 yard line. Young's second 1-yard TD of the game gave Washington a 24-14 lead.
Then, just like they did the week before, the Eagles mounted a nice (useless?) comeback
Cooper (5-53-2) caught his second TD of the game on an amazing grab, to pull the Eagles to within 24-21. It had to be an amazing catch, because Sanchez threw too high a usual. Then RGIII apparently didn't notice that the Eagles had benched Fletcher and attempted to throw it to Jackson yet again. This time, RGIII horribly underthrew Jackson and Nate Allen intercepted the wounded duck. Unfortunately, just when it seemed that the Eagles were going to take the lead, the real Mark Sanchez made his usual appearance in the game. The Eagles drive stalled deep in Washington territory because Sanchez missed a wide open Darren Sproles in the left flat on what would have been an easy TD and they settled for a 22-yard Parkey FG to tie the game at 24.
After Fletcher broke up a pass with his helmet (yes, really) and Washington punted, it seemed as if the Eagles were destined to win. Yeah, right.
Sanchez ended the Eagles season with a horrible pass thrown behind Jeremy Maclin (4-62) that was easily picked off by Bashaud Breeland at Washington's 42. Oh sure, the Redskins had to drive into field goal range, but any long-suffering Eagles fan knew that INT was the death blow to this season.
RGIII's first pass was a completion to Pierre Garcon (4-61) for 23 yards, but the third bogus roughing the passer penalty on the Eagles moved the ball down to the Eagles 35 yard line. The Eagles added another penalty for offsides, to give them an astounding 13 for 102 yards in the game, as the Redskins moved into range for Forbath's game-winning 22-yard FG.
I'm sure there will be clueless Eagles fans out there who don't think Chip blew this game and will be fooled into thinking Sanchez had a good game. Oh sure, Sanchez threw for 374 yards and 2 TDs, but he also turned the ball over twice. That makes 13 turnovers for Sanchez in only 31 quarters of play. It also helps explain why the Eagles lead the NFL in turnovers. And Sanchez needed 50 pass attempts to gain those yards, while Chipper only called 31 running plays even though McCoy had 88 yards and a TD on 22 carries.
Who is most to blame for the Eagles' loss to the Redskins?
Apparently, Kelly once again got blinded by another team's vulnerability and forgot that Mark Sanchez WILL lose you the game with a horrible turnover if you give him the chance. This time, the Eagles coaching staff went after the suspect Washington linebackers, as Zach Ertz caught a career-high 15 passes for 115 yards. The middle of the field was open all day for Sanchez and helped pad his stats. Ertz's 15 receptions also broke the team record for most receptions in a game, but that's of little consolation to a team whose playoff chances are now on life-support.
The Eagles are not among the NFL's elite teams, but until this game, they at least were able to beat the bad teams on their schedule. The 4-11 Redskins are a terrible team that would have quit if the Eagles got out to an early lead. By allowing a bad team to hang around, the Eagles deserved their fate. The combination of missed field goals, way too many penalties, turnovers, Bradley Fletcher and Mark Sanchez ultimately sealed the Eagles' fate.
The Eagles lost a game they had to win and now the hated Cowboys will win the NFC East. For that lump of coal in their fans' Christmas stockings, the Eagles should just be called The Grinch.