Week 3 Recap: Eagles Win the Battle & War as they Hold Off Redskins 37-34


Sep 21, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly runs off the field after game against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Redskins, 37-34. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a short week following their comeback win against the Colts, the Eagles had to gear up for another emotional showdown with their week three opponent. Highlighted by the return of DeSean Jackson, the showdown with the Redskins would decide which team would lead the NFC East upon the conclusion of week 3. Washington was coming off a 41-7 thrashing of Jacksonville that saw new starting quarterback Kirk Cousins navigate Jay Gruden’s offense masterfully in relief of an injured Robert Griffin III.

After some doubt as to whether or not Jackson would suit up as he recovered from a sprained AC joint suffered in the win over Jacksonville, the polarizing receiver finally took the field at Lincoln Financial to a chorus of mostly boos with some cheers smattered in. Little did the fans in Philadelphia know what was about to take place over the next four hours.

Jackson wasted no time making his presence felt on the field. He caught two passes on the opening drive for nearly 20 yards and drew a 15-yard retaliation penalty on Nate Allen. Washington capped an impressive opening drive with Cousins hitting fullback Darrel Young for a five-yard touchdown to give his team a 7-0 lead. The Eagles defense was unable to match the quick-hitting nature of the Redskins offense and it became clear early on that Bradley Fletcher would be the target of the Washington attack.

No sooner as the Redskins wrapped up their celebrations on the sideline, the Eagles struck back. Chris Polk fielded the ensuing kickoff two yards deep in his own endzone, burst through the wedge, made one man miss, and raced 102 yards to the endzone. It was the first kick return touchdown by an Eagles since 2008 and, without having the offense step on the field, tied the game at 7.

The Eagles were unfortunately unable to parlay the momentum from the return into a defensive stop. Cousins led Washington 88 yards down the field for their second touchdown in as many drives, this time in the form of a connection with Pierre Garçon near the goal line. Cousins really was the story of the game early on. He showed poise and decisiveness in the pocket, picked up third downs at an alarming rate, and even made impressive throws on incompletions. For a player making his fifth start as an NFL quarterback, Cousins did not look the part.

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A scary moment happened on the Eagles opening drive on what ended up being LeSean McCoy’s longest run of the game. After scampering for 10 yards and a first down, Washington CB David Amerson made helmet-to-helmet contact with McCoy who immediately went down to the ground in a heap. Shady ditched his lid and appeared dazed and nervous over the severity of his situation. He would have to leave the game and go through concussion protocol, albeit in less than enthusiastic fashion.

As for the Eagles drive, it would end in anti-climactic fashion. After moving into Washington territory on a few nice throws by Nick Foles, Darren Sproles would fumble at the edge of the end zone and have DeAngelo Hall come up with the loose ball. The Redskins would manage a field goal after the turnover to take a 17-7 lead.

The Eagles looked to have another quick touchdown in their pocket on the first play of their next drive. Foles hit Jeremy Maclin on a bubble screen and the wideout followed a convoy of blockers 80 yards to the endzone. Unfortunately, Jason Kelce (who somehow managed to race step for step with Maclin on the play) was flagged for a questionable block in the back penalty which negated the score.

Fortunately, the Eagles were able to engineer an efficient scoring drive without putting their gassed defense back on the field almost instantaneously. They would draw within three when Foles hit Jordan Matthews in the back of the endzone from 11 yards out for the rookie’s first career touchdown reception. Foles was quick to secure the game ball from the official and give it to Matthews for the landmark catch in his young career.

Washington would add another field goal to make it 20-14 just before the half. The Eagles, seemingly dominated throughout the duration of the opening two quarters, could actually take the led with a two-minute drill that resulted in a touchdown. Foles was masterful under the gun. He linked up with Jeremy Maclin for a 26-yard catch to move the Eagles within the red zone with less than a minute left. Then, after the Eagles burnt their final timeout, Foles and Matthews hooked up for their second scoring connection of the half in almost the exact same spot. It was one of the better balls thrown in Foles’ career that I can remember and, for the first time in the 2014 season, gave the Eagles a lead heading into the half.

The Eagles were dealt another injury blow in the 3rd quarter. LeSean McCoy, who did return to the game after passing protocol, was dropped for a two-yard loss on a run to the outside. Center Jason Kelce remained on the field long after the play and winced his way to the sideline in obvious pain. The team would call it an abdominal injury and the All-Pro would not return. Cody Parkey would kick his first field goal of the afternoon on the drive to make it 24-20.

After another Parkey field goal made it 27-20, the Eagles got burnt in the worst way. On the Redskins first play of a drive starting with just over two minutes in the third quarter, Cousins unleashed a deep ball up the seam intended for DeSean Jackson. Like he had done so many times in Eagle green, Jackson hauled in the pass, shook off Cary Williams tackle attempt, and strutted into the endzone. After some theatrics and celebrating, an extra point would make the score 27-27 going into the 4th quarter.

Kai Forbath would miss a 33-yard field goal try early in the 4th to keep things knotted at 27. On the next Eagles play from scrimmage, Foles overthrew a receiver and Washington’s Bashaud Breeland would come up with the interception. As Breeland finished off his return, Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker de-cleated Foles with a peel back block where it looked as if an elbow could have been involved. A melee broke out after the hit, with players from both teams mixing it up with one another. Jason Peters and Baker would lock horns and even throw some blows at one another. The two would be ejected for their roles in the extracurricular activities. This left the Eagles with only one remaining slated starter from the 2013 unit that started every game together in the game, Todd Herremans.

After the dust cleared, a booth review revealed that Breeland did not control the interception and the Eagles maintained possession. Foles, who looked shaken up enough after the hit to have Mark Sanchez throw warm ups, stayed in the game. He would make a few more gutsy throws on the drive before hooking up with Maclin from 27 yards out to put the Eagles back in front 34-27.

On the following Washington drive, Cousins threw one of his worst passes of the game. Attempting to hit Niles Paul over the middle, Cousins instead found a diving Malcolm Jenkins who came up with his 2nd interception in as many games. The turnover would lead to a 51-yard Cody Parkey field goal to make the score 37-27.

Washington needed to score quickly, and did just that. Aided by a 55-yard screen play to Roy Helu Jr., the Redskins found themselves chewing up yards in very little time. Helu Jr. would cap the drive with a touchdown run from a yard out and the Redskins were back within a field goal, trailing 37-34.

The Eagles were unable to collect a first down on the following drive and were thus forced to give the ball back to Washington. A poor punt by Donnie Jones would result in Washington starting the drive from Eagles territory, needing just a field goal to extend the game or a touchdown to win. Fletcher Cox made an impressive stop on Alfred Morris for a two-yard loss on first down to get the game to the two-minute warning. On back-to-back plays, once on Jackson and once on Andre Roberts, Brandon Boykin came up with timely pass break ups to force the Redskins into a fourth and long. Rather than punting and saving their three timeouts to try to play defense, Washington instead opted to go for it right there. Cousins would misfire on a throw intended for Garçon and the Redskins would turn it over on downs.

Needing just one first down to put the game on ice, Nick Foles came up with one more terrific throw to cap, in my opinion, his most impressive win as a starter. On 2nd and 11, Foles rolled to his left and fired across his body to little-used tight end James Casey. The tight spiral buried into Casey’s chest and, as the receiver fell to the ground, ensured an Eagles victory with a few kneel-downs for dramatics.

The Eagles improved to 3-0 on the year and, once again, had to exhaust almost every ounce of energy to do so. My biggest takeaway from this game is learning where Nick Foles stands with his teammates. Their best player, Jason Peters, took himself out of the game defending him. The patchwork offensive line stepped their game up in response to the ‘cheap shot’ suffered by the quarterback. Foles finally looked like the player who dazzled everyone in 2013, even better at times. There is little question where Foles stands in the eyes of the team and organization.

It’s worth noting that, though he did return to the game, LeSean McCoy was almost a non-factor throughout Sunday’s contest. The Redskins were clearly loading the box to try to force Foles to beat them, but it is still concerning to see such little production out of the NFL’s reigning rushing champion.

This was a classic instance of Chip Kelly’s philosophy of taking what the defense gives. McCoy and Darren Sproles were almost non-factors in the offense and the tight ends were essentially the same. This time, it was the Eagles little-used wide receivers doing the damage. Jeremy Maclin caught 8 passes for 154 yards and touchdown. Jordan Matthews had 8 receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns. Even Riley Cooper, 4 receptions for 34 yards, appeared more of an emphasis in the gameplan of this one.

Heading into a showdown with the 49ers, the Eagles are guaranteed at least a 3-1 record during Lane Johnson’s suspension. Pending the severity of Jason Kelce’s injury, the opening quarter of the season can already be considered a success to this point. The defense still has issues getting to the quarterback, but they continue to turn the opposition over at the right time and come up with the stops when needed. Wild game. Tremendous win. On to the next one.