NFC East: 2013 Week 8 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Washington Redskins

October, 27, 2013

DENVER -- A few thoughts on the Washington Redskins' 45-21 loss to the Denver Broncos:

What it means: It’s not as if Denver winning was a surprise. Most predicted the Broncos would win. But it’s the manner in which the Redskins lost that should be disconcerting. They are now 2-5 and what do they really have to build on at this point? Washington was doing all the little things right in taking a 21-7 lead -- and looked strong in doing so. The Redskins looked like a team ready to announce a return to legitimate contention. But the last quarter highlighted so much of what’s still wrong with the Redskins. They missed a couple more tackles; they failed to catch passes; the quarterback missed too many open receivers and the punter shanked a 15-yarder deep in his own territory. Peyton Manning doesn’t need the sort of help Washington provided in the fourth quarter.

Bad day: Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III had perhaps his worst game of the season, one week after it appeared he had turned a big corner. Griffin did not look comfortable in the pocket, missed open receivers and could not hurt a defense that has been carved up a few times this season. It was not the sort of showing the Redskins needed. Had they lost but Griffin played well, then they could feel good about where he was headed. Now? Back to wondering week to week what Griffin will do. The Broncos took his legs away and turned him into a less-than-ordinary player. Griffin finished with a 45.4 passer rating after leaving the game with a left knee injury, having completed 15-of-30 passes for 132 yards a touchdown and two interceptions. Griffin is going through growing pains that many thought he might endure last season.

Stock report: Going up: Corner DeAngelo Hall intercepted two passes and played an all-around good game. It gets lost now, but his physical coverage led to another pick-six and 21-7 lead. Hall added an interception later in the game, again with good coverage. He showed up. Going down: Everything else. The Redskins looked good for three quarters, but a complete collapse in the fourth quarter, when they did just about everything wrong, makes it tough to remember.

Key statistic: The Redskins turned the ball over no times in the first three quarters and five times in the fourth quarter. That's how you go from leading 21-7 to giving up 38 straight points.

Next up: The Redskins host the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, a game that becomes yet another must win if they want to have the illusion of still being in the NFC East title chase. Because of all the parity in this division, a 3-5 record would qualify as still in the hunt.

Rapid Reaction: Dallas Cowboys

October, 27, 2013

DETROIT -- A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

What it means for the Cowboys: Dominated offensively and defensively, the Cowboys had no business being in the game but lost it in a way only they can, giving up a touchdown with 12 seconds left to play on a Matthew Stafford leap after blowing two 10-point leads in the fourth quarter.

The Lions scored 24 points in the fourth quarter, and the defense was unable to find an answer for Calvin Johnson, who had 329 yards receiving, which were 125 more yards than the Cowboys had as a team.

With the loss, the Cowboys dropped to 4-4 and are foreshadowing a third straight 8-8 record.


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The only thing that could save them is the NFC East division title, because the Cowboys would lose a wild-card tiebreaker with the Lions if it gets that far.

Stock watch: Cowboys defense, falling -- Johnson proved just how otherworldly he is with 14 catches for 329 yards, and he did it with Brandon Carr following him all over the field. Carr had success against Demaryius Thomas, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. He had none with Johnson. The Lions finished with 623 yards on offense, negating the four turnovers the Cowboys forced.

Three touchdowns, but: Tony Romo completed at least 69.4 percent of his passes in each of the first five games, but he has been off-target of late.

He completed 60 percent against the Washington Redskins, 59.6 percent against the Philadelphia Eagles and 46.7 percent (14-of-30) against the Lions.

He did, however, throw a touchdown pass in his 21st straight game with a 5-yarder to Bryant in the second quarter, then hit on consecutive passes to Terrance Williams (60 yards) and Bryant (50 yards) in the fourth quarter for scores.

What’s next: The Cowboys return to AT&T Stadium next week to face the Minnesota Vikings. It is their only home game in a six-week span with road games against the New Orleans Saints (Nov. 10) and the New York Giants (Nov. 24) sandwiching their Nov. 17 bye week.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

October, 27, 2013

PHILADELPHIA -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 15-7 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles:

What it means: The Giants have won two games in a row for the first time since Weeks 7 and 8 of last season. This was their first road win since Oct. 28, 2012, in Dallas. Their defense hasn't allowed a touchdown since Week 6 in Chicago. And Eli Manning has played two full games without throwing an interception after throwing 15 in his first six. The Giants also picked up four sacks of Eagles quarterbacks Sunday, a stunning number considering they had a league-low six sacks as a team coming into the game and only nine sacks in their past 12 games dating back to last season. They have played teams the past two weeks that have major quarterback issues, but give the Giants' defense credit for taking advantage of their opponents' problems.

Stock Watch: Peyton Hillis: up. With Brandon Jacobs inactive again, Hillis got the bulk of the workload at running back for the second week in a row. Hillis isn't a very dynamic runner, but he's an asset in the passing game as a receiver out of the backfield and as a blocker in pass protection. With Andre Brown due back after the bye, it'll be interesting to see how things get divided in the backfield.

Turning it over: Another thing with which the Giants' defense has struggled this season is forcing turnovers. But the first two they forced Sunday -- an Antrel Rolle interception of Michael Vick and Jacquian Williams' recovery of Terrell Thomas' strip-sack of Matt Barkley -- were critical. And the third -- Will Hill's interception with 13 seconds to go -- sealed the game.

Eventful day: Rolle had a sack and an interception and recovered an onside kick in the fourth quarter after the Eagles cut the lead to 15-7. A big enough all-around contribution to mitigate the incredibly stupid group celebration he led after the interception that cost the Giants 15 yards in the first quarter.

Getting his kicks: Josh Brown's five field goals tied his career high and came one short of the Giants' team record set by Joe Danelo in 1981.

What's next: The Giants have a bye next week. They'll gather in East Rutherford for their regular Monday meetings and film sessions, but then they're off again until they return to practice next Monday. Their next game is Nov. 10 at home against the Oakland Raiders.

Rapid Reaction: Philadelphia Eagles

October, 27, 2013

PHILADELPHIA -- Quick thoughts on the Philadelphia Eagles' 15-7 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.

What it means: The Eagles reached the midway point of their schedule with a mess at quarterback, a now-epic home losing streak and some legitimate doubts about coach Chip Kelly’s offense. Michael Vick was hobbled and ineffective after missing two games with a hamstring injury. He left in the second quarter. Rookie Matt Barkley replaced him and fumbled the ball away on his first possession. Going back to last week’s three-interception outing against Dallas, that made four consecutive drives with turnovers to begin Barkley’s NFL career. The Eagles are 3-5. They are 0-4 at home, extending their franchise-record losing streak at the Linc to 10 games.

Stock Watch: Falling -- Chip Kelly. Last week, ESPN Stats & Information dug deep to find out the last time a Kelly-coached team failed to score in the first half. There wasn’t any digging needed this week. The Eagles were scoreless through three quarters against the Dallas Cowboys, and touchdown-less throughout. They were scoreless through three quarters against the Giants. Soon, it’s going to take research to figure out the last time a Kelly team scored a first-half touchdown. The Eagles' only score came on special teams, when Najee Goode recovered a ball snapped over the head of Giants punter Steve Weatherford. It seems like a long time since the Eagles’ flashy debut at Washington.

Strange decisions: Kelly made a couple of doozies. After replacing Vick, Barkley ran a smooth two-minute drive down to the Giants’ 2-yard line. With the NFL’s leading rusher on the field, Kelly called a play that required his right-handed rookie quarterback to roll out to his left. Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas ran Barkley down from behind and tomahawked the ball. Jacquian Williams recovered for the Giants. On the first possession of the second half, the Eagles faced fourth-and-10 at the New York 32. Instead of trying a 49- or 50-yard field goal to cut the score to 12-3, Kelly went for it. Barkley fumbled the shotgun snap, then overthrew Jason Avant to give the Giants the ball. Last week, Kelly went for a 60-yard field goal on fourth-and-inches late in the first half.

What’s next: Brett Favre's phone could ring again. OK, probably not, but much depends on how quickly Nick Foles is cleared to play according to the NFL’s concussion protocol. After trying to play on his sore hamstring this week, it seems unlikely Vick will be back in the mix this week. If neither can go, Barkley would at least have the benefit of preparing with the first team all week. Either G.J. Kinne would have to be brought on to the active roster, or the Eagles will need to find another veteran backup on the street. I wonder how Donovan McNabb is feeling.