Eagles back with pack in NFC East raceby Joseph Birmingham
The Eagles started their first MNF appearance of the season with a bang. It came in the form of DeSean Jackson running virtually untouched for a 66 yard end around touchdown and 7-0 lead on the opening drive. On Saturday I would have guessed this would be a close game but by gametime 8:42 EST Monday night it was obvious the Eagles had arrived in our nations capital with something to prove.
It seemed evident that Reid heard the criticisms as he came out running, with Westbrook, McCoy and Weaver all seeing action early. Eagles fans held their collective breath when Westbrook went down early after a short gain.
Will Weatherspoon, playing in his first game after coming over from the St Louis Rams, picked off a tipped pass by Quinten Michel at the end of the first quarter and scored to make it 14-0. On the Redskins next offensive possession the 2 defenders traded roles, with Weatherspoon stripping the ball and Michel recovering the fumble to give the Eagles offense the ball in Redskins territory. That turnover led to an Akers field goal and a 17-0 Philadelphia lead.
The Redskins scored toward halftime, with quite a bit of help from the Eagles who committed 2 major penalties to help sustain the drive. Then the Redskins forced the Eagles into a three and out and at 17-7 it seemed as if momentum had changed. Then Antoine Randel El muffed the punt and the Eagles scored a quick field goal without gaining any offensive yards at all and it was back to a 20-7.
On the next drive McNabb broke two marks throwing his 200th touchdown and breaking 30,000 yards with a 58 yard bomb to DeSean Jackson for the 27-7 lead going into halftime. This came on a 3rd and 23 and showcased exactly how capable McNabb is when he is in sync with his recievers. DeSean became the first Eagle in 60 years to score on a 50+ yard pass and a 50+ yard rush in the same game. Washington did recover enough to get a last second field goal and close to 27-10 going into halftime.
There was no scoring in the 2nd half until the game clock was down to 1:38 when the Redskins scored a basically meaningless touchdown after a fairly decent 78 yard drive. The first 28 minutes of the half was the Eagles playing safe and protecting the lead, and the Redskins getting great field position but being so inept at all aspects of football they stopped themselves as frequently as the Eagles defense did. Every few minutes another player went down and fortunately for Eagles fans most of the attrition was players in red and gold. With the exception of Westbrook and his concussion early, the Eagles escaped tonights game relatively intact.
Jason Campbell dropped back 48 times and got sacked 6 times and hit the ground 26 times overall. The Redskins kept playing and trying to score til the end, but the Eagles also kept coming and harrassing Campbell like they were protecting a 3 point lead instead of a 17 point one. The final score was 27-17 but the game was no where near that close at any time from the middle of the first quarter on.
The win closed the NFC East front runners back into a pack, especially in light of New York’s loss yesterday. Now the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants are all tied with 2 losses apiece, with the Giants having a half game lead overall by virtue of not having their bye week yet.
Next Sunday the Eagles continue their quest for NFC East dominance when they face those NY Giants who now have a two game losing streak. Next weeks game has gone from a traditional rivalry to potentially a contest to decide the NFC East leader at mid point of the season. The Redskins may be done early as they play one of the toughest schedules in the conference for the rest of the season.
Next Sunday will be Philly/New York, in football and then in baseball as the Phillies face the Yankees after the Eagles-Giants game 6 days from tonight. If they both win their respective games, that will be a great night in Philadelphia sports history.