The best and worst moments from the Redskins’ 30-17 loss to the Eagles at FedEx Field on Sunday.
Worst call: The Redskins didn’t lose because of the controversial call in the final two minutes of Sunday’s game, but the incompletion-that-wasn’t denied Kirk Cousins and Co. any chance of starting the 2017 season on a positive note. With Washington trailing 22-17 and facing second and seven from their own 32-yard line, Fletcher Cox scooped up a Cousins fumble caused by Brandon Graham and rumbled 20 yards into the end zone for the apparent game-clinching score. Except on second — and third, and fourth, and fifth glance — it wasn’t a fumble at all, and should have been ruled an incomplete pass. Cousins’s arm was coming forward and the ball was completely out of his hand when Graham batted it to the ground. Cousins was convinced the play would be overturned by replay review, as was Fox rules expert Mike Pereira. Instead, the call inexplicably stood, and the Eagles converted a two-point conversion for the final points of the game. Referee Brad Allen explained why the original call was upheld.
Worst same old problem: Trailing 19-14 early in the third quarter, the Redskins marched 66 yards on 16 plays in more than eight minutes, but stalled after crossing the imaginary line that defines the red zone. Washington ranked 29th in touchdown rate inside the red zone last season and started 2017 0 for 1 after settling for a 33-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal. The Redskins’ next trip inside the Eagles’ 20-yard line ended in even worse fashion, with Jalen Mills’s first career interception after Kirk Cousins overthrew Jamison Crowder on a slant route. Josh Doctson, who was expected to help the Redskins improve in the red zone, wasn’t targeted once Sunday.
Worst nightmare: Mills is known as the Green Goblin because he dyes his hair neon green, and he will haunt Cousins’s dreams. Cousins finished 23 of 40 for 240 yards, one touchdown and that costly interception.
Worst streak: Washington is 0-5 in season openers since Robert Griffin III “Griffined” while leading the Redskins to a 40-32 upset victory at New Orleans in his NFL debut. Washington’s four-game skid in Week 1 since then began with a loss to the Eagles at FedEx Field the following year.
Worst streak ender: The Redskins had won five straight against Philadelphia, their longest winning streak against any current NFC East opponent since the Burgundy and Gold won six straight games against the Eagles and Giants from 1981 through 1984. Philadelphia’s last win over Washington was a Nick Foles-led 37-34 triumph at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 3 of the 2014 season.
Best pick-six: If you had Ryan Kerrigan in your First Redskins Touchdown of 2017 Pool, you’re possibly a liar and probably quite rich. Kerrigan, who had 3½ sacks in two meetings against the Eagles last season, picked off a Carson Wentz pass that was tipped at the line by Stacy McGee and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown midway through the second quarter. Kerrigan has returned all three interceptions in his career for touchdowns. Sunday’s interception was Kerrigan’s first since 2012.
Best play: During a strange first half in which Ryan Grant led the Redskins in receiving yards, Chris Thompson — not Terrelle Pryor Sr. or Jordan Reed — made Washington’s most jaw-dropping play. The 5-foot-8 running back took a short pass from Cousins and then spun and pinballed his way to a 29-yard touchdown with 1:17 to play in the second quarter. Dustin Hopkins’ extra point gave the Redskins a short-lived 14-13 lead.
Worst quarter: The Redskins apparently could’ve used a fifth preseason game, or at least another preseason quarter. Slow starts are nothing new for this franchise, but the first 15 minutes on Sunday were particularly ugly. Washington committed two turnovers, including a muffed punt by the normally reliable Jamison Crowder, and were outgained 118-47. Cousins completed only 2 of 8 passes and finished the quarter as the Redskins’ leading rusher … with 10 yards. Crowder’s fumble led to an Eagles touchdown that gave Philadelphia a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Best kicks: Caleb Sturgis missed the extra point after Philadelphia’s second touchdown, but he booted a 50-yard field as time expired in the first half to help the Eagles regain a 16-14 lead. He later added a 42-yarder in the third quarter and a 37-yarder at the two-minute warning that put Philadelphia ahead by five.
Worst same old other problem: Third-down defense was a major issue for the Redskins last season, when they allowed opposing teams to convert an NFL-worst 47 percent of the time. The Eagles were successful on five of their seven third-down attempts in the first half on Sunday, including both attempts on the drive that led to their go-ahead field goal. Philadelphia was 8 for 14 on third down in the game.
Best shot: Cousins and Pryor didn’t waste any time looking to put the talk of their lack of chemistry during the preseason behind them, with Cousins looking for his 6-foot-4 target on a deep route on Washington’s first play from scrimmage. Unfortunately, the result only added to the concern, as Pryor couldn’t locate the ball in the air and it fell incomplete. “I’ll tell you what, I think he lost that ball in the lights,” Fox’s Ronde Barber said. He probably meant the sun.
Worst near-pick-six on the first drive of the dang season: After Cousins and Pryor hooked up for a first-down completion two plays later, the Cousins caught a break on Washington’s next series when Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham dropped what should’ve been an interception on third down. It’s too early for that sort of thing.
Best pass defense: The Eagles took a deep shot on their first play from scrimmage, too, but Josh Norman ran stride for stride with Torrey Smith and nearly made a leaping interception. Norman’s pass breakup was the first of several impressive plays by the Redskins’ secondary. Bashaud Breeland, who struggled at times last season, played well and teamed with safety D.J. Swearinger to prevent a long completion to Alshon Jeffery on the final play of the third quarter.
Worst idea: Giving an NFL quarterback 10 seconds to find a receiver open downfield, because more often than not, he will. Preston Smith sacked Wentz on second down, but the Eagles’ second-year quarterback slithered away from rookie Jonathan Allen and Smith on the next play before hooking up with Nelson Agholor 58-yard touchdown.
Worst momentum killer: The Redskins drove to the Eagles’ 37-yard line on their next possession before a Fletcher Cox sack-fumble spoiled any chance at points.
Worst debut: It would’ve been called back by a Jordan Reed holding penalty, but Pryor allowing a potential 50-yard touchdown strike to slip right through his hands later in the first quarter wasn’t a good sign for Redskins fans or anyone who invested in the receiver in their fantasy drafts. He couldn’t blame the sun — or the lights — for that one, or a drop in the fourth quarter. Pryror finished with six catches for 66 yards on 11 targets.
Worst running game: “There’s Kirk Cousins doing his best RGIII impression,” Fox’s Kenny Albert said after Cousins scrambled in the second half. Cousins picking up a few yards on the ground instead of taking a sack or throwing the ball away is fine, but Cousins tying Rob Kelley for the team lead with 30 yards rushing is a problem. The Redskins finished with 17 carries for 64 yards.
Best pregame trash talk: DeSean Jackson may be gone, but this NFC East rivalry isn’t lacking in sizzle. In a first-person piece for The Players’ Tribune, Eagles offensive lineman Lane Johnson predicted last month that Philadelphia would “go down to D.C. and whup some Redskins [butt].” That caught the attention of Redskins linebacker Zach Brown, who replied on Twitter, “We don’t need PEDs to win,” a reference to the 10-game suspension Johnson served last season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
Best D.C. sports synergy: The Capitals, Wizards, and Mystics were among the D.C. franchises to wish the Redskins luck before kickoff. Around the same time the Redskins’ game ends, the Nationals could be celebrating a National League East title at Nationals Park. That would require a Washington win over the Phillies and a Marlins loss. The Nats have won three division titles before, but they’ve never clinched at home.
Best flyover: There’s at least one thing you can’t fully appreciate watching from home.
Best footwear: Movie buff Josh Norman was stylin’ in “300”-inspired custom cleats.