PHILADELPHIA — In today’s NFC East, where there are no dominant teams, and no team seems willing or able to assert itself, nothing’s over until it’s over. But the Washington Redskins on Sunday did their best to eliminate themselves from contention as they fell, 24-16, to the Philadelphia Eagles.
In a story line similar to their season-opening loss to Philadelphia, the Redskins entered a high-stakes game and appeared anything but motivated as they listlessly stumbled through the first three quarters and then finally showed up. But their arrival came too late, and self-inflicted wounds again proved too much to overcome.
Lifeless for three quarters, the Redskins found themselves in a 24-0 hole before finally perking up.
Robert Griffin III — after managing only 57 passing yards on seven completions through three quarters, while getting sacked four times — shook off his struggles to throw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes and threatened to throw a third, which would have put his team in position a tie with a two-point conversion.
But the late-game rally was not to be. Griffin guided the Redskins to the Philadelphia 18-yard line before the second-year quarterback came under pressure, backed away and heaved a throw toward the end zone — in the direction of no receiver in particular. Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin picked off the pass and sealed the game.
Although gut-wrenching for the Redskins, the outcome seemed fitting for an offense that for the first 45 minutes didn’t get out of its own way and a defense that until the final quarter offered little to no resistance to Nick Foles.
Philadelphia, in addition to snapping a 10-game home losing streak, got its first sweep of Washington since 2011, and improved to 6-5 . With Dallas idle, the Eagles moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
Washington, meanwhile, fell to 3-7 for the second time since Mike Shanahan took over as coach in 2010.
“It’s very disappointing,” said linebacker London Fletcher, who was part of a unit that yielded 402 yards, 22 first downs and seven plays of 22 yards or longer. “We know where we were from a record standpoint coming into this game, what the ramifications would be for losing this game. But it’s a situation: Backs against the wall, division game against the leaders and you wanted to get a game closer to the Eagles. I think we just took too long to get going.”
Washington last owned a 3-7 record in 2011, when they fell to that mark following a 27-24 overtime loss to the Cowboys. They went on to finish the season 5-11.
The Redskins didn’t even come close to sniffing 4-6 on Sunday until late in the game. For much of the game, sniffing the goal line proved challenging enough.
It wasn’t until the 49th minute that the Redskins got on the scoreboard. Griffin completed a 62-yard touchdown pass to fullback Darrel Young with 12:56 left, then completed a toss to Nick Williams in the front of the end zone for the two-point conversion.
The Redskins found the end zone again to briefly save their fading hopes. Griffin completed a 41-yard bomb to Aldrick Robinson. Griffin added the two-point conversion on a draw play, with him diving into the end zone past two defenders, and the scoreboard read 24-16 with 5:57 left.
Washington’s defense held in check an Eagles offense that was content to try to milk the clock, and forced a punt. Griffin and company took over at their 4-yard line with 3:26 left, and two timeouts and a two-minute warning remaining.
Facing third and 25 from the Washington 17, Griffin completed a 28-yard strike to Santana Moss for a first down. Then on third and 10 from the 45, a defensive holding call on linebacker Najee Goode kept Washington’s chances alive.
Griffin continued his suddenly clutch ways. On third and five from the Philadelphia 44, he completed a 17-yard pass to Pierre Garcon. But three plays later, with Griffin facing another third-down situation (third and one from the 18), defensive end Fletcher Cox applied the pressure. The quarterback backpedaled, trying to buy himself time, and heaved the ball toward the end zone with 40 seconds left, but was intercepted by Boykin.
“We had a certain concept running and nobody got open and I was backing up and had a situation where if you get a sack, it ends the game,” Griffin explained. “I tried to throw the ball out the back of the end zone, didn’t get to where I wanted it to go. I was obviously on the back of my heels. It’s something I can definitely learn from.”
He added, “For us to claw back the way we did — and it sounds cliché, but we always talk about character — but the guys in that locker room are family. They fought hard. It’s tough to swallow something like that. We’ve got to digest it, move on, and there are still games to be played and we’ve got to go play them.”
Griffin finished 17 of 35 for 264 yards, with two touchdowns and the interception. Running back Alfred Morris proved the lone highlight, rushing for 93 yards on 22 attempts. Otherwise, the offense struggled. Griffin missed open receivers, his pass-catchers dropped other throws that hit them in the hands, and third-down conversions were hard to come by. Meanwhile, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and tight end Jordan Reed were lost to a knee injury and concussion, respectively, leaving a struggling quarterback with even fewer options.
The defense had no answer for an offense that scored its first touchdown in just four plays, its second in six, and extended a 17-0 halftime lead to 24-0 on a LeSean McCoy touchdown run that capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive.
The Redskins trudged from the locker room to the buses waiting to take them from Lincoln Financial Field smarting once again from another defeat filled with shortcomings.
“The feeling is just frustration, disappointment, sadness. Hell, I was about to cry on the sideline,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “I just don’t understand where we’re falling apart at. We’ve got everybody in this locker room that wants it so bad, but we for whatever reason haven’t been able to get it going. For some reason, week in and week out, it keeps happening.”