By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 30, 2009
PHILADELPHIA -- At the end of their latest game in which they simply were not good enough, the Washington Redskins again watched in disappointment as another NFC East opponent, this time the Philadelphia Eagles, rallied late for a victory. Philadelphia made the key plays in the fourth quarter Sunday afternoon in a 27-24 win at Lincoln Financial Field that included many familiar scenes for the Redskins, who would prefer better endings for themselves.
"We have these games until, like, the end of the third, the fourth quarter, and then you see what happens," free safety LaRon Landry said. "You keep seeing the same thing, we keep talking about, but I don't know what it is. Just finish it up."
Finishing well, however, is something the Redskins have rarely done this season, and they failed to keep pace with the Eagles in the final eight minutes in front of 69,144. With the Eagles trailing, 24-16, quarterback Donovan McNabb directed a 10-play, 90-yard drive capped by running back Eldra Buckley's one-yard touchdown and rookie LeSean McCoy's two-point conversion run in which he somehow maintained his balance while appearing to be stopped well short of the goal line before stumbling into the end zone.
After the Redskins' next drive stalled and they punted, McNabb made several big plays in the passing game against the Redskins' injury-weakened secondary. He helped put Philadelphia in position for the go-ahead score, which David Akers provided with his fourth field goal (that one from 32 yards) in as many attempts with only 1 minute 48 seconds left.
The Redskins' final possession ended as many have in a season that has only five games remaining. Starting at Washington's 16-yard line with 1:44 showing on the clock and working from the shotgun, quarterback Jason Campbell had one completion in his first three attempts to set up fourth and one at the 25.
On the next play, Philadelphia defense end Juqua Parker spun around Campbell while he sacked him and drove him into the ground. All that was left was for McNabb to kneel twice to run out the clock as second-place Philadelphia (7-4) took another step in its pursuit of the division-leading Dallas Cowboys.
For the last-place Redskins (3-8), who were coming off a loss to the Cowboys in which they had led until the final three minutes, the talk in the locker room about their determined effort not being good enough felt familiar.
"Obviously, the playoffs are out of the picture," said rookie defensive end/strong-side linebacker Brian Orakpo. "It's been out of the picture. Basically, we're playing for pride and trying to finish up. Now, all we got is a .500 record that we can finish up at."
Many key players are on the season-ending injured-reserve list or unavailable because of medical reasons, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth sat out his second consecutive game because of an ankle injury and the Redskins were without starting cornerback Fred Smoot (head) and nickel corner Justin Tryon (hip) on the Eagles' go-ahead drive.
"It's definitely frustrating. In a lot of ways, just the way we lose," Campbell said. "You see all the guys out there giving great effort, all the guys out there fighting. A lot of teams probably would've packed it in. Not this team."
Rookie Kevin Barnes played for Smoot and Byron Westbrook assumed Tryon's duties in the slot late in the game. But McNabb delivered his biggest play on the go-ahead drive against veteran corner Carlos Rogers, who returned to the starting lineup against Philadelphia because top corner DeAngelo Hall (knee) sat out.
Benched in the Week 10 victory over the Denver Broncos, Rogers was the most experienced corner on the field late in the game. And McNabb still went after him.
He teamed with rookie wideout Jeremy Maclin for a 35-yard gain down the right sideline to Washington's 28 with Rogers in tight coverage. "Great catch and throw," Rogers said. "I was thinking slant because of the formation, and once I turned and ran, just a great catch and throw to his outside shoulder. Wasn't too much you could do about it."
Wide receiver-punt returner DeSean Jackson suffered a concussion when he was hit by middle linebacker London Fletcher with about 7 minutes remaining in the third quarter and did not return. Without Jackson, who scored on a 35-yard touchdown pass in the first, McNabb leaned on Maclin. On third and five at Washington's 23, McNabb and Maclin combined on a six-yard gain against Barnes, who was in press-man coverage. Four plays later, Akers's kick broke the tie.
Campbell at times outplayed McNabb -- his friend and mentor, who completed 21 of 35 passes for 260 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Campbell completed 22 of 37 passes for 231 yards, throwing two touchdowns and running for another score. But Campbell threw two interceptions (both to Asante Samuel) late in the first half that put Philadelphia in position to take a 16-14 lead at halftime.
"I was upset with two interceptions -- you want to protect the football," Campbell said. "I tried to make a play on third and short and the guy [Samuel] ended up jumping the route. On the other one, I just got to take my hat off to Asante.
"He was in coverage, exactly what we were looking for. We wanted a one-on-one route, and the guy I was trying to throw it to, I don't know how he ended up being in that area because he was supposed to be way outside. But it was a great play."
Perhaps the Redskins should not have given Samuel a shot at the second interception. With the Redskins leading, 14-10, late in the second, Samuel picked off Campbell, who was looking for Santana Moss, at Washington's 21 and the Eagles took over there. Six plays later, Akers connected from 24 yards.
Devin Thomas returned the kickoff 35 yards to Washington's 35, and the Redskins started there with 42 seconds to play. Instead of instructing Campbell to kneel and run out the clock, Coach Jim Zorn decided to go for it, which worked out poorly.
Tackle Levi Jones was penalized for a false start, which backed the Redskins up five yards. On the third play of the possession, Campbell threw another pass to Samuel and Philadelphia had the ball at Washington's 28 with 19 seconds to go. Akers made a 41-yarder with seven seconds showing.
When the Redskins received the ball again with three seconds, they called a play with a four-receiver set. Defensive end Trent Cole sacked Campbell as time expired.
"My thought before the half was to go down with 42 seconds, in two or three plays, we could get an opportunity to get a field goal," Zorn said. "We were moving the ball in the air and on the ground.
"It's unfortunate we threw a pick, but Jason saw the coverage. I thought Asante Samuel broke the coverage based on what he saw and actually put their defense at risk, making a great play. It's disappointing. No question."