Best and worst moments from Washington’s 37-34 loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia.
Worst climax: In a game in which both quarterbacks threw for more than 300 yards, and both teams scored more than 30 points, and both teams moved the ball at will for long stretches, the maxim would hold that last possession wins. On Washington’s last possession, though, the Redskins got the ball in Philadelphia territory, didn’t gain a single yard and turned the ball over on downs. Philadelphia then ran out the clock. So I guess the last possession did win, but you know what I mean. After nearly four hours of drama, a run for no gain and three incompletions was a major let-down.
Worst mistakes: Washington did plenty of things to deserve a victory. But the Redskins also missed a short field goal, allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown, threw a ghastly interception, took a raft of penalties, dropped two potential interceptions and squandered a couple of open targets in the fourth quarter. By the end, they had allowed the Eagles to hang on and move two games up in the NFC East. It was exciting, and it was dramatic, and for Kirk Cousins it was promising. But it was still a loss, and one that will hurt.
Worst time to throw a first interception: Kirk Cousins. In a batty, insane, back-and-forth marathon, Washington’s backup quarterback was nearly perfect for three quarters. And then he threw his first interception, down seven, midway through the fourth quarter. It was obviously some sort of miscommunication, but the timing was the pits.
Best recovery: And yet, after the Eagles went up 10 with a field goal following that interception, Cousins answered by leading Washington 80 yards in 99 seconds, highlighted by a 55-yard screen pass to Roy Helu Jr. Cousins was the author of so many perfect offensive moments — pinpoint passes to Niles Paul and Pierre Garcon, long drives, QB sneaks for first downs — and he threw for 427 yards, Washington’s most since 1999. If nothing else, he prompted another endless round of “RGIII vs. KC1” sports-radio debates. And yet, he wasn’t even the most interesting part of the game. Because:
Worst job maintaining control of the game: The officials. Whenever there are major sideline brawls, and then officials have to announce that “both teams are directed to their benches,” you can probably wish that someone had better control over the game.
Worst discipline: Everyone. The game had 19 penalties, one major brawl, two ejections, at least a couple of hits way after the whistles had blown, all sorts of taunting and a general vibe of meanness and chaos. It was still fun, kind of, but it wasn’t very professional.
Best defensive stand: Needing a stop late in the fourth quarter, against a potent offense, the Washington defense got a quick three-and-out, which included an incomplete pass that stopped the clock, and then a special teams penalty against Philadelphia, and suddenly here was Kirk Cousins with a chance to earn a fourth-quarter NFC East road comeback win. As noted above, Cousins did not take advantage of that chance. But the defense gave Cousins the chance.
Worst punishment: Nick Foles got smashed like 15 times in that game. Whether you admire his toughness, admire the pressure brought from the Redskins front seven, or just take some sympathy aspirin, you have to recognize that the Philadelphia quarterback weathered an incredible barrage of hits on Sunday.
Worst disagreement: After the game, I heard passionate, heartfelt and convincing arguments that Chris Baker deserved to get tossed from the game for plowing into Foles during an interception return that didn’t even exist, since the interception was later reversed on replay. These arguments came mostly from non-Redskins fans. I also heard passionate, heartfelt and convincing arguments that Baker’s ejection and penalty were epic miscarriages of justice, or at least the results of a terrible NFL rule. You could teach an entire graduate seminar on how pre-existing bias influences one’s perception of truth based on that sequence. Or you could just go outside and enjoy the fall weather.
Best big play: The 81-yard bomb from Kirk Cousins to DeSean Jackson that allowed Washington to tie the game in the third quarter was a pretty good one. That was Jackson’s fifth catch of the day, put him well over 100 yards, and ensured the fourth quarter would remain highly interesting.
Best celebration: Jackson followed his score with an extended celebration that included back-stepping and Fly Eagle Flying and football kicking. It was a lot to try to work into one routine, but with some planning and choreographing an experienced celebrator can make it work. I think it worked.
— Ben Celestino (@bencelestino) September 21, 2014
Best job keeping Philadelphia’s offense off the field, Part I: Through 13 minutes, the Redskins had gained 159 yards and 12 first downs. The Eagles had gained 0 and 0. Because, you see, they hadn’t run a single offensive play. That’s what happens when you sandwich two long touchdown drives around a kickoff return for a touchdown. It was extremely odd, though, and it kept Foles standing awkwardly on the sidelines. It also seemed to ruin the story line about whether the Washington defense would be exhausted by the fourth quarter.
Best job keeping Philadelphia’s offense off the field, Part II: Washington converted its first six third-down attempts. It ended the game 8 for 15 on third downs. That’s another good way to keep Philadelphia’s offense off the field. At halftime, Washington had controlled the ball for nearly 23 minutes; Philadelphia for just over 7 minutes.
Worst two-minute defense: The thing is, if you let the other team score go 64 yards in 66 seconds, it doesn’t really matter how much you’re dominating the time of possession. The Eagles zipped down the field at the end of the first half to score their third touchdown, and so they somehow led 21-20 at halftime of a game that Washington had dominated. I mean, the Redskins scored on every first-half possession! And still trailed! That’s messed up.
Worst sense of humor: Me, apparently. I didn’t think the South Park promo about the Redskins name was funny or clever or novel or interesting. Everyone else apparently thought it was magisterial and hilarious.
Best flop: Amazing. Amazing amazing amazing.
World class flop https://t.co/BpUsF9DvoH
— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) September 21, 2014
Best first drive: After a solid week of overwrought questions about whether the Robert Griffin III era is over in Washington …well, Kirk Cousins didn’t make those questions any quieter. He completed his first seven passes (an incompletion was erased because of a penalty), threw for 59 yards, and led Washington to a quick touchdown. Cousins also found five different receivers on the drive. This was a sign of things to come.
Best second drive: Around the time I finished typing that paragraph, Washington had the ball again, and soon Cousins had a second touchdown pass. According to the team, he became the first Redskins quarterback to throw two touchdown passes in the first quarter since Mark Brunell on Christmas Eve 2005.
Worst officiating, non-brawl edition: Darren Sproles got tackled by his facemask on a punt return. It was very clearly a penalty. Officials, though, missed the call, which was outlandish. Then, apparently, an official saw the replay inside the stadium and threw a flag. Then they called the Redskins for a horse-collar penalty, which was the wrong call anyhow. This, too, was a sign of things to come.
Best touchdown vulture: Darrel Young scored Washington’s first touchdown on a short pass. Darrel Young has scored Washington’s first touchdown every week this season. Three of his first five touches this season resulted in touchdowns. I’m sure this makes Alfred Morris’s fantasy football owners mad, but it’s poor form to complain about fantasy football bad beats, and even poorer form to complain in writing.
Worst special teams fiasco: Oh weird, a kickoff returned for a touchdown at a crucial moment. It’s actually not weird, you see, because Washington has regularly displayed stinking refuse fires on special teams about every other week for the past decade or so. There are so few disaster plays that Washington hasn’t explored on special teams. They really need an onside kick recovered but then fumbled and returned for a touchdown. Or maybe a fake punt intercepted and returned for a touchdown on a play with three laterals and an impromptu line dance at the 50-yard line. Something new.
We’ve now had a blocked point-after attempt, a blocked punt for a touchdown and a 102-yard kickoff return for a TD. This is progress?
— Jason Reid (@JReidPost) September 21, 2014
Best special teams streak: Kai Forbath nailed first-half field goals from 49 and 44 yards. That gave him 18 straight made field goals. That was a career-high streak for Forbath, and a probably overlooked bright spot amid the recent special teams darkness.
Worst jinx: I typed that sentence not terribly long before Forbath clanked a 33-yarder off the upright. Whoops. Sorry.
Second-best celebration: Hey, DeSean Jackson wins this award, too!
DeSean Jackson playing to the crowd https://t.co/5UHUtfe8io
— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) September 21, 2014
Best third-and-1 play: On Washington’s second drive, everyone waited for a running play on third and one. Instead, there was a play-action pass to Paul, prettily lofted over a beaten defender. Paul gained 37 yards on the play, one of Washington’s longest pass plays on the day.
Worst challenge: Maybe they never got a great look at it, but the Redskins coaches could have saved everyone a lot of trouble late in the second quarter by just detonating a timeout at midfield and letting the game go on. Instead, Jay Gruden challenged a clear Riley Cooper reception along the sidelines. The challenge lost. It was Gruden’s third straight loss challenge to start his NFL head coaching career. Chip Kelly, on the other hand, won two challenges.
Worst assisting on challenges: Bruce Allen.
Bruce Allen is up in the booth assisting on replay decisions.
— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) September 21, 2014
Worst nagging concern in the back of my head: I know, if you have doubts about the long-term propriety of football-playing you’re not a real man and probably enjoy roasted vegetables and grilled tofu. But dang. Within the course of that game, I counted injuries to Alfred Morris, LeSean McCoy, Kory Lichtensteiger, Tyler Polumbus, Duke Ihenacho, Nick Foles (twice), Brian Orakpo, Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, DeAngelo Hall, Shawn Lauvao, Frank Kearse, Adam Hayward and Jason Hatcher. And these mostly weren’t the sorts of major injuries that will land on highlight shows. Just regular old football injuries. It nags at me, nowadays.
Worst divisional results: With everyone killing the NFC East, the Cowboys won on the road to move to 2-1, and the Giants won at home to move to 1-2. Washington is now tied for last in the division, and two games back of Philadelphia. This game on Thursday night is kind of big.
Worst time for a short week: Well. Yeah. Those injuries. We’ll see.