Monday, October 6, 2008
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 5 -- With the Philadelphia Eagles off to a fast start and the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field having much to celebrate early Sunday afternoon, the Washington Redskins continued to follow the lead of even-keeled Coach Jim Zorn.
Even as Washington's deficit quickly grew to 14 points and quarterback Jason Campbell had not completed a pass in a frustrating first quarter, players remembered the word Zorn had repeated so often: patience.
"He always tells us, 'Never too high, never too low, no matter what happens in a game,' " Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels said. "I'm telling you, after hearing him and watching him all the time, I don't think anybody on the sideline had any doubt about what we would do."
The Redskins thus enjoyed another significant accomplishment in Zorn's five-game career as a head coach, overcoming their biggest deficit of the season as they rallied past the Eagles, 23-17, and extended their winning streak to four games in front of 69,144. Washington overcame Philadelphia's impressive opening act that included running back Brian Westbrook's nine-yard touchdown run and DeSean Jackson's 68-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first seven minutes.
Despite playing without three injured starters on defense -- end Jason Taylor, strong-side linebacker Marcus Washington and cornerback Shawn Springs -- the Redskins, for the most part, shut down the Eagles after they were sharp in scoring on the game's first possession. Philadelphia produced 119 total yards in the first quarter. The Eagles had only 135 yards the rest of the game.
Cornerback Carlos Rogers drew the difficult assignment of Jackson, the Eagles' speedy rookie wide receiver. Jackson had one catch for eight yards. Washington also contained Westbrook, a former DeMatha star, limiting him to 33 yards rushing and a 2.8-yard average.
Washington amassed 203 yards rushing among 388 total yards, believing in Zorn's one-play-at-a-time approach, players said, taking small steps that eventually led to 23 straight points and control of the clock. The Redskins had an advantage in time of possession of nearly 10 minutes.
Place kicker Shaun Suisham made all three of his first-half field goal attempts (from 41, 48 and 50 yards) as the offense began to find its groove. A week after its impressive performance led to running back Clinton Portis's first 100-yard game of the season in a rare win over the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium, Washington's offensive line was even better against the NFL's top defense against the run entering the game.
Portis rushed for a season-high 145 yards (he had a 5.0-yard average) and one touchdown, setting the tone for change as the Redskins took control after halftime.
"Clinton is running the ball like a mad man right now," said Campbell, who had his fewest yards passing (176) in a Redskins win but set a franchise record with 175 consecutive passes without an interception. "The offensive line is just doing an outstanding job of giving him an opportunity to get those rushes, and also giving me time to throw the ball."
Portis's four-yard run with 14 minutes 54 seconds left gave the Redskins a nine-point lead. Tight end Chris Cooley had his most productive game with 109 yards and caught his first touchdown of the season from wide receiver Antwaan Randle El on an end-around play. Zorn, in his role as Washington's play-caller, showed he listens to the players, too.
The Redskins needed a yard on fourth down with fewer than three minutes remaining in the fourth, and Zorn, at the request of Portis, called a draw play for Portis from a shotgun formation.