Sunday, December 23, 2012
Halftime thoughts: Redskins take advantage
By Dan Graziano
PHILADELPHIA -- The Washington Redskins' defense didn't look too good on the first possession of the game, as the Philadelphia Eagles marched down the field, converted two fourth downs and scored an opening-drive touchdown. But when you play the Eagles in 2012, all you have to do is hang around and wait for them to give you the ball. A fumble and an interception by rookie quarterback Nick Foles led to a field goal and a touchdown and are the main reasons the Redskins lead the Eagles 13-10 at halftime.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, wearing a knee brace after missing last week's game with a knee injury, has carried the ball twice for a total of 4 yards, and based on that it appears the Redskins aren't going to use him too much as a runner. It's tough for the Eagles to trust that, but it does appear they've committed to stopping Alfred Morris up the middle and forcing the Redskins to run a lot of screens and outside stuff to the wide receivers. Griffin is a workmanlike 8-for-13 for 93 yards and a touchdown pass.
The key for the Redskins is likely to be turnovers. If they don't turn it over, they're likely to win the game, because the Eagles are an injury-shredded 4-10 mess who came into this week tied with the Chiefs for the worst turnover differential (minus-22) in the league. Foles looks more or less the same as he has in every game but the Tampa Bay game. He shows some ability to move in the pocket and create space in which to work, but he makes some rookie decisions that get him in trouble, and for a 6-foot-6 guy he does seem to have too many passes batted down. His fumble was avoidable. He was alone in the backfield with Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and managed to elude him once. But instead of throwing the ball away because Kerrigan was still coming, he held it too long and Kerrigan was able to get the strip-sack. Kerrigan had two sacks in the half and now has 8.5 for the season. He had 7.5 last year as a rookie.
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy has 21 yards on seven carries and 23 yards on three receptions in his first game back following a concussion.
Redskins kicker Kai Forbath is 2-for-2 on field goal attempts in this game and is 17-for-17 for the season. His 17 straight made field goals to start a career have set an NFL record previously held by the Saints' Garrett Hartley (16).
If the Redskins win, it ensures that they will have a chance to win the NFC East by beating the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field next Sunday. And if the Redskins win and the Giants, Bears and Vikings all lose today, the Redskins clinch a spot in the NFC playoffs as no worse than a wild-card team.