Sitting at 1-4 and facing a must win game against the first place Redskins, the Eagles finally responded, finally protected a fourth quarter lead and finally put in a consistent defensive effort as they defeated the Skins 20-13 at FedEx Field. The win gives the Eagles some good feelings they head into their bye and put them just two games back in the division with three straight home games on the horizon.
The game started with the Eagles looking like the rested and prepared team coming off a bye and the Redskins looking like the beatdown disappointment as the Eagles surged to a 20-3 halftime lead. Kurt Coleman picked off Rex Grossman on the Skins' first possession and the Eagles made them pay when Michael Vick hit Brent Celek for a 7 yard TD thanks to a nifty playcall (video here). LeSean McCoy would all another TD on the ensuing possession as the Eagles ditched the cutesy red zone playcalling and simply lined up in the I formation and ran Shady off tackle. Take a look at the video and enjoy, that's what red zone football should look like folks.
LeSean McCoy has now scored a TD in six straight games, the first Eagle to do so since Ricky Watters in 1995. Steve Van Buren holds the team record with 8 straight games with a TD in 1947.
In all, the Eagles dominated time of possession in the first half 21:38 to 8:22 and outgained the Skins 250 yards to just 75. They led 20-3 at the half, which was the same score of the 49er game that they blew two weeks ago. And as the first half began, it looked like it was going to be yet another nightmare. The Redskins got a big play to start the half and scored 3 points quickly to make it 20-6. Michael Vick was picked off in the red zone thanks to yet another tipped ball on the ensuing drive and suddenly all the mistakes the Eagles didn't make in the first half were back and no one felt good. However, unlike in previous weeks, the defense stood firm and forced a three and out.
The Eagles get the ball back and the unthinkable happens. Michael Vick takes a shot to the head at the end of a run, looks kind of woozy and needs to be pulled from the game. In comes Vince Young for his first action of the season and two plays later he throws a ridiculous pick to give the Redskins the ball inside the red zone. Crisis back on right?
Wrong, Kurt Coleman brought the good feelings back when he picked off Grossman for the second time to end the threat. Coleman and Nate Allen would each pick off Grossman again and Coleman became the 3rd Eagle to post 3+ INTs in a game. The last guy to do it was Joe Scarpati in 1966.
Rex Grossman was pulled from the game and John Beck actually led a scoring drive to close the gap to 20-13, but the Eagles offense protected the ball and fed LeSean McCoy to grind it out for their second win of the season, ending their four game slide.
It certainly wasn't the prettiest win, but at this point any W looks like a million bucks to us. And while there's no doubt we would have liked to see the offense keep up their first half domination, we can't have any complaints about the fantastic defensive effort, easily the best of the season so far. The Eagles D forced four turnovers and held the Redskins to just 42 yards rushing. They made big stops after the offense faltered and generally owned the line of scrimmage. They really did everything they hadn't done in weeks previous.
So it's onto the bye week with an eye toward the Dallas Cowboys coming to town on October 30th.