The Washington Redskins received the rudest of reminders last night that the Philadelphia Eagles remain the team to beat in the NFC East. The Eagles followed the lead of quarterback Donovan McNabb and dominated virtually every aspect of the game to hand Coach Steve Spurrier an emphatic first loss with the Redskins, 37-7, before an increasingly disenchanted crowd of 84,982 at FedEx Field.
The Redskins lost quarterback Shane Matthews to a bruised left shoulder suffered when he was hit late in the first half. Matthews said he could have kept playing but Spurrier went to Danny Wuerffel, who fared no better. When he was intercepted by Eagles safety Brian Dawkins in the final moments of the third quarter, many of the fans headed to the exits.
Donovan McNabb dives into the end zone with Philadelphia's first score.
(Joe Giza - Reuters)
The game was delayed briefly with about 61/2 minutes to play when Eagles players and coaches left their sideline after police used pepper spray to break up a fight among fans in the stands nearby. The spray hit air blowers on the Eagles' bench and blew onto some players, delaying the game for eight minutes while the Eagles gathered at the center of the field, some with towels over their heads. Philadelphia punter Sean Landeta said several players were vomiting on the sidelines, including linebacker Ike Reese. "I've never seen anything like that in my life," Landeta said.
Once the game resumed, Philadelphia closed out the dominating win.
"They outplayed us, outcoached us, everything," Spurrier said. "I apologize to the Redskins' fans. . . . They beat us every which way. They were a lot better than us. . . . I've had my butt kicked before, but we're not gonna be shell-shocked."
Matthews said his left arm went numb after he was hurt, but he did not know the extent of his injury. Spurrier said he expected Matthews to start Sunday's game at San Francisco, but also left open the possibility of playing Patrick Ramsey if the rookie quarterback performs well in practice this week.
"We obviously didn't play well offensively," Matthews said. "We got beat by a good team."
The Eagles (1-1) rebounded from their season-opening defeat at Tennessee and looked every bit like the defending division champions. McNabb scored one first-quarter touchdown on an eight-yard scramble and threw for another on a two-yard toss to tight end Jeff Thomason.
"We knew he was the guy we had to stop," said Redskins middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. "We didn't do that."
David Akers added three field goals, including a 47-yarder as time expired in the first half, as Philadelphia took a 23-7 lead into the intermission, then stretched it to 30-7 on a 39-yard touchdown pass from McNabb to wide receiver James Thrash in the third quarter. Running back Dorsey Levens's 47-yard touchdown dash in the fourth quarter made it 37-7.
Spurrier tried just about everything, including going for first downs on two fourth downs in the first half -- one of them from his team's 38-yard line. But the Redskins (1-1) stumbled and bumbled on practically all fronts under the bright Monday night spotlight.
Linebacker LaVar Arrington helped the Eagles to their second touchdown with an offside penalty on a field goal. Cornerback Champ Bailey got a play on offense and fumbled, setting up a field goal. On the heels of being named the NFC offensive player of the week, Matthews had 62 yards on 10-of-22 passing, with an interception.
The Redskins got a second-quarter touchdown on a 90-yard punt return by Jacquez Green, but that didn't prevent the competitive portion of the evening from ending early. Spurrier was left bowing his head in fourth-quarter frustration.
"Basically our offense got blanketed, zeroed," Spurrier said.