"This is the one," noded Eagle Coach Dick Vermeil. "This is the win w've really been looking for."
Philadelphia quarterback Ron Jaworski called yesterday's 17-10 triumph over the prevriously unbeaten Redskins "without question, the biggest win since the championship days of the Eagles."
Not only was it an especially sweet accomplishment to pry Washington from the shrunken ranks of the NFL unbeaten. It was a day Vermeil could pencil on his calendar as the one when he successfully landed his first punch to the Washington jaw.
Vermeil's first victory over the Redskins helped erase the memory of five straight defeats at their hands - and could have an immense effect on the immediate future, which features Philadelphia at Dallas this Sunday.
"I would like to say that we are a playoff contender," said running back Wilbert Montgomery, who scored the winning touchdown on a free-lance 12-yard run around his right end.
"That play was supposed to run off tackle, but the hole closed," Montgomery related. "The next thing I'm supposed to do is cut back, but that wasn't there for me, either. I looked to the outside and saw that there were only two men, one with his back to me. One of the linebackers sort of got a hand on me, but I stilf-armed him."
The Eagles reveled in defensive gems protecting the 17-10 fourth-quarter lead that Montgomery's run supplied. Right corner Herman Edwards intercepted a Joe Thismann pass at the Eagles' 15-yard line; rookie Reggie Wilkes, making his first start at strong outside linebacker, recovered a fumble at the Eagle three, and Vince papale, the locally famous walk-on, hit Tony Green and forced a fumble on an Eagle punt, denying the Redskins precious opportunities to remain unbeaten.
"I'm not saying we're going to the Super Bowl, but you got to feel it helps you mentally," said Edwards, who also was basically free-lancing on his big play.
"The guy just went up the seam (in the zone defense) and I was on the outside. But I read the play, droppd back into the middle and made the play. It was a pretty difficult play - the ball was thrown hard right on the money, and I had to dive for it."
Wilkes, who had two previous starts but not at the strong outside spot, said that he was mostly concerned about his own performance before the game, rather than whether the Eagles could win it.
"If I were a verteran, I would be able to think about thinks like that," said Wilkes. "But being a rookie, I was hit by nerves. I wanted to do a good job. I didn't want to be the reason we lost. I wanted to play like a veteran.
"We (Wilkes and fellow rookie linebacker Mike Osborn) stayed a couple extra hours after practive every day this week, going over films."
Wilkes said he had some verbel and physical blows tossed at him by Redskin fight ends Jean Fugett and Reggie Haynes during the heate contest.
"Fugett was upset because I was getting some good hold-ups on him," said Wilkes. "One time I held him and the ref should have called it, but he didn't see it. On the next play, Fugett clipped me and then he ran up and told me he was going to do it again. I told the referee what he said.
"Haynes threw a couple of cheap shots, but that's to be expected in pro football, especially in a game like today."
In a story in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer, Jawoski was quoted as saying the Redskin played overly rough in the Dallas-Washington game. "There's no question about it," he said. "What the Redskins did, I consider dirty play. Their buys were elbowing, Spearing."
Jawoski said yesterday, however, that his comments were taken somwhat out of context.
"I think I might have gotten them fired up," said jawoski. "We had heard people saying that Washington was playing a nobody, and most of our guys took it as an insult. This game wasn't pretty, but we got it done. I think it shows the caliber of people we have.
"We knew the first eight games would tell us about our season, and now the worst we can be is 4-4. We've shown ourselves to be capable of playing with anyone."
"They (the Redskins) are a good football team," said Vermiel. They didn't play up to their potential, and neither did we. Our defense kept us in the football game.
"There was a certain amount of luck involved. It wasn't easy. But it's a great feeling, a great win for us."
Perhaps the only Eagle who wasn't drowning in joy was Mike Michel, signed on Friday to fill the Eagles' revolving-door punting position.
Michel did something that few pro football fans have ever seen. He whiffed. Completely missed the ball.
"I swung my leg and I looked and saw the ball lying on the ground," said Michel. "A lot of players came by and et me have it. There was nothing I could do. I just sort of looked at 'em and walked off. I knew how much tis game meant to them."