The Eagles played well Sunday afternoon — but they still lost.
Costly unforced errors by individual players throughout the 27-22 setback dropped the Eagles out of playoff contention in a thoroughly entertaining, dramatic affair on South Broad Street.
It was a game that arguably had everything — big plays on both sides of the ball, important injuries that affected strategy (the Eagles were on their backup long snapperin the second half) and even a minor brawl (after an early hit on Darren Sproles who was trying to catch a punt).
The third-string long snapping by Trey Burton (it was high but Donnie Jones handled it) was the most important performance for the Eagles as Caleb Sturgis nailed his third field goal of the game, a 41-yarder to put the Eagles up 22-21 with five minutes to play.
After allowing a 33-yard pass play, the Eagles defense stood firm forcing the Redskins to go for it on a fourth-and-two at the 36 yard line— which they converted. A few plays later, Chris Thompson found the end zone to give the Redskins a 27-22 lead with 1:53 to play.
Needing to go the length of the field in that span, quarterback Carson Wentz methodically weaved his way through the Redskins defense with clutch passes to Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz, driving all the way to Washington’s 14 yard line, where on second down Wentz was sacked to end the game — nearly exactly like the first time the two teams met.
Here are three things we saw in the setback, dropping the Eagles to 5-8 on the year.
Points left on the field
On the Eagles’ opening drive, the squad resembled the quick-moving West Coast unit that played so well at home through their first four wins at the Linc. Unfortunatelya makeshift offensive line was unable to give Wentz(3 of 4 for 32 yards and rushed for one first down on drive)enough time after leading the team down the field fora 45-yard Sturgis field goal.
After a defensive three-and-out, a deep bomb to Nelson Agholor earned the Birds a pass interference call to set up a potential touchdown deep in the red zone, but a slant pass to a Redskins defender ended the drive and resulted in a pick for Washington.
On the next drive,Wentz again led the Eagles down the field deep into Washington territory. Again, the drive stalled on a third-and-short and wound up with three points for the Birds on a chip shot field goal.
Good luck, bad luck
The Redskins got on the board late in the second quarter after Doug Pederson decided not to challenge a 9-yard Pierre Garcon completion that would likely have been overturned with just one foot in bounds. Just two plays later, Washington was in the lead 7-6 after a 22-yard Robert Kelly spring to the end zone.
In the second half, Darren Sproles’ would-be touchdown return on a Redskins punt was called back due to a supposed block in the back byErtz — a continuation of the self-inflicted wounds suffered by the Eagles all season long.After a punt, DeSean Jackson made himself right at home in South Philly, sprinting deep and snagging a bomb from Kirk Cousins for 80yards (annihilating Leodis McKelvin in coverage)and the go-ahead touchdown, a 14-13 lead.
Talk about bad luck: The Eagles, facing a 50-yard field goal toward the end of the third, were without long snapper Jon Dorembos — out with a wrist injury — and a low snap from emergency snapper Brent Celek led to a big loss of yards and turnover on towns. The Redskins made Philly pay with a touchdown fade pass to Garcon on their ensuing drive.
McKelvin made up for his mistake, picking off Cousins a drive later on a pick-six, getting the Eagles within two after a miss two-point conversion, 21-19.
Welcome back, Wentz
Two mistakes by the rookie QB will overshadow a whole lot of good he showed in the game. A strip sack ended the game on the Eagles’ last drive, and an interception in the end zone took six points off the board.
But he extended several plays. Though many ended in an incompletion, they avoided a sack or worse thanks to his body strength, awareness and agility.
He led the Eagles in a successful two-minute drill late in the first half as the team pick up 77 yards on 12 plays — resulting in a 4-yard touchdown toss in the corner of the end zone to Darren Sproles. Thanks to his impressive first-half performance the team led, 13-7, after 30 minutes.
The quarterback led the Eagles triumphantly to another field goal in the fourth quarter, his quick thinking putting the Eagles just inside Sturgis’ range.
In all, Wentz went 32 of 46 for 314 yardswith one TD and one interception. His favorite target, Ertz, caught 10balls for 112 yards.