Through a quarter of the season, the Washington Redskins maintained good health at all their key positions, and Mike Shanahan’s players had managed to keep their errors to a minimum — both factors in their early success and first-place standing in the NFC East.
The Redskins suffered three first-half injuries on offense — losing starting guard Kory Lichtensteiger, probably for the season, with torn ligaments in his knee; tight end Chris Cooley to a fractured index finger in his left hand that will require surgery and tackle Trent Williams to a sprained ankle. They saw quarterback Rex Grossman throw four interceptions before he was benched.
John Beck took over, playing both of the Redskins’ fourth-quarter possessions, but couldn’t complete the comeback, and Washington — whose defense held in the second half after giving up 20 first-half points — dropped to 3-2 on the season.
Meanwhile, the New York Giants won their game against the Buffalo Bills and improved to 4-2 to take over first place in the NFC East. The Eagles, who had lost four straight games, won their second straight game at FedEx Field, and may have saved their season. No team in NFL history has ever overcome a 1-5 start to win its division.
“There were a lot of things that were a problem today,” said Grossman, who completed only nine of his 22 passes and posted an anemic quarterback rating of 23.7. “First of all, we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that were given us as an offense. And I didn’t execute.”
Grossman, who started the final three games of Washington’s season in 2010 and beat out Beck for the starting job during training camp, endured his worst outing as a Redskin. His struggles started early.
On Washington’s fourth offensive snap of the game — a third-and-16 play from the Philadelphia 38, the same play on which Lichtensteiger’s season likely ended — Grossman threw an interception to Philadelphia safety Kurt Coleman while trying to hit tight end Fred Davis 34 yards downfield.
The Eagles turned that interception into seven points, stringing together an 11-play drive that quarterback Michael Vick capped with a seven-yard toss to tight end Brent Celek.
The second quarter saw Philadelphia score another touchdown and two field goals, as Washington’s offense continued to struggle. Grossman threw another interception and at halftime, the Redskins had only a field goal to show for the game, and trailed 20-3. Cooley left the game midway through the quarter, and Williams limped off two series later.
In two quarters, the Eagles outgained the Redskins 250-75, earned three times as many first downs (16-5) and dominated their hosts in time of possession, 21 minutes 38 seconds to 8:22. (For the game, the Eagles outgained Washington 422-287, had 22 first downs to the Redskins’ 17, and held the ball for 38:08 while Washington did for 21:52.)