Ever eaten something that was incredibly delicious, and yet somehow inexplicably, the last bite was bad? Sour? Unpalatable? That’s what the Redskins 37-34 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles felt like on Sunday. To me anyway.
That isn’t to say that I pin the loss to the last play of the game for the Redskins, so much as to say, that what was a darn good game of football, may seem tainted by the overall outcome. The chagrin is understandable, 1-2 and a division loss, instead of 2-1 with a division win, is a mountain of difference.
But you can’t grade every game COMPLETELY on the result. Obviously it is the ultimate judgment of play and success, but the Eagles are a very good football team, and the Redskins gave them a heck of a challenge in their own home. I twas a war of attrition. It was nasty at times. it was full of mood swings. It was… great.
If you’d have told Joe Q. Redskin Fan before the game, that he could have the ball on the last drive with a chance to win the game, they surely would have accepted. So while defeat is always tough to accept – especially for a franchise base that hasn’t seen anything close to success for the better part of two decades – you have to lick your wounds. Recognize what you watched on Sunday – a closely contested football game, between two pretty evenly matched teams. That’s great progress for a team that STUNK last year and is under a new system and head coach.
That coach continues to impress me, both as a play caller and the coach. The Redskins offense may have faltered on the last drive and seem culpable in some way; but they hung 34 points on Philly in their own barn, and put up some staggering offensive numbers. You’ve moved the ball with relative ease if you manage to put up over 500 yards (511) of total offense. You’ve scored with efficiency when you scored six times, and only punted three. In fact, if you’re 3-for-3 in goal to go, and the only blemish on red zone conversions is a botched chip shot field goal, it’s hard to put blame on the offense at all.
Kirk Cousins was terrific other than a bad interception. He finished 30-of-48 for 427 yards, and was the top NFL passer on the day. Not shabby at all for a “back-up”. He had three touchdown passes, including an absolute beauty of an 81-yarder to DeSean Jackson that spawned one of the best taunt celebrations in recent memory. Captain Kirk and the Redskins offense were not to blame for the loss on Sunday, despite not capitalizing on the chance to steal the game away with less than a minute to go.
It would be hard to even pin the loss completely on the defense, despite the fact that the Eagles scored 37 points. “Only” thirty of them came against the defense. The Eagles’ star running back LeSean McCoy was completely shut down. Limit that guy to 22 yards on 20 carries? You’re killing it in the run defense game. Darren Sproles only had 50 all-purpose yards too (20 rushing, 30 receiving), so Washington did a good job taking care of the Eagles’ two biggest offensive weapons. But was there a price to pay for that containment?
The Redskins had no pass rush pressure all day long, on a beaten-to-snot Eagles offensive line that was ripe for the picking. Nick Foles was an impressive 28-of-42 for 325 yards, with three touchdowns and zero blemishes – no interceptions, and no sacks. No sacks for a defense that produced a franchise record setting ten, just a week ago.
Safety coverage continues to be dismal, as Brandon Meriweather’s return to the line-up, yielded little more than unfortunate comparisons to the blown assignments in week’s past by Bacarri Rambo.
Having said all of that though, Philadelphia came into the game as the league’s number one offense, and for the most part, Washington kept them in check enough to win the game.
DeAngelo Hall going down with an Achilles injury was gut-wrenching. A guy coming into his own as a leader on the team, and the most solid player in the secondary, will not be replaced.
Special Teams were the Redskins’ Achilles on Sunday. They were not only responsible for an abyssmal performance in the field position game, but they were responsible for a ten-point swing in score – a stat that in my opinion, resulted in Washington being on the losing end of the scoreboard.
Washington’s return team gave up a touchdown to Philadelphia on the very first kick return of the game. Chris Polk took tress Way’s kickoff 102 yards to the house, and completely electrified a crowd that had been beat down by an 11-play 82 yard opening Redskins touchdown drive. Dagger number one.
Dagger number two was quintessential in losing this game. Kai Forbath may have kicked 18 in a row, including two earlier in the game (48,44) but you CANNOT miss chip shot 33-yard field goals in the NFL. It was an absolute momentum stealer, in a game that required playing with very few errors. In a game decided by just three points, it’s hard not to see the miss as epic. Imagine the difference in mindset for the Redskins if they’re already tied when they get that ball back with just over a minute to go. Obviously you can’t make that comparison effectively because the whole game would have changed, but you can’t ignore the possibility, and you just can’t squander points in such a closely contested battle.
So in the end, the Redskins lost.
It is a bitter pill to swallow.
It is metallic.
I just think it bears mentioning that they played a pretty damn good game of football.
Hail to the Redskins.