Brandon Boykin seemed puzzled that the ball was floating toward him, aimlessly like a wounded duck. The cornerback waited and waited, then snatched it out of the air, toe-tapped both feet in bounds in the back of the end zone.
Boykin’s interception secured the Eagles’ first victory, a 24-16 win over the Redskins, at Lincoln Financial Field in 413 days.
“Unbelievable. It was just floating in the air, like a high school pass,” said Boykin. “I didn’t expect it to be just lobbed like it was. I don’t know what happened … but that’s the type of thing that you expect to happen when you have a good pass-rush. You expect people to get back there and disrupt it, and that’s what we did.”
The Eagles didn’t make it easy. The team nearly blew a 24-point lead as they allowed Washington to drive to their 18-yard line with 40 seconds left before Boykin’s interception. The Redskins were feasting on the Eagles’ secondary — mainly fill-in cornerback Roc Carmichael — with crossing routes.
The crowd, those that hadn’t left early, was nervous. But the Eagles’ defense remained stoic, refusing to hit the panic button. Perhaps the Eagles’ biggest fourth-quarter highlight was Donnie Jones’ 70-yard punt, which pinned the Redskins on their own 4-yard line.
“We were calm, no panic,” said Boykin. “We’ve been in that situation plenty of times. We practice that every week. We practice those situations, a minute left, we’re up by a touchdown, we have to stop them. When you go through those situations in practice, it makes it easy in games.”
It was quite a contrast from the first three quarters, when the Eagles were shoving the Redskins around. They racked up 20 first downs, 351 yards and three touchdowns. LeSean McCoy, who spiked the football through the uprights on his first touchdown run, reached the 1,000-yard plateau for the season early in the third quarter despite a lingering hamstring injury.
“It just gave out, sharp pain, but I’m good,” said McCoy, who finished with 77 yards rushing and two touchdowns. “It wasn’t as serious as I thought it was. It just grabbed really tightly. I did some stretching, went in the back and then got back out there.”
All of a sudden, the Eagles are sitting pretty atop the NFC East. More importantly, the team gets a bye this week, giving banged-up guys a chance to heal. Head coach Chip Kelly will have players come in for film study and light practices Monday and Tuesday. After that, they’ll be free to get away. The Eagles host Arizona Dec. 1 at 1 p.m.
“I think they need to kind of get themselves recharged, rejuvenated, then come back here,” Kelly said. “We’ll see what December has for us.”
McCoy smiled as he was talking about the bye week. Finally, some rest for the weary.
“We’ve been down, up, up and down, just to get a bye and a chance to get away is good,” McCoy said. “I’m not going to stop working, but I’m definitely going to enjoy my time off.”