Sunday, October 16, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Eagles 20, Redskins 13
By Dan Graziano
LANDOVER, Md. -- A few thoughts from the Philadelphia Eagles' season-saving victory over the Washington Redskins:
What it means: That the Eagles are still alive. A loss would have dropped them to 1-5 and all but out of the 2011 playoff picture. Instead, they move up and the first-place Redskins move back in an increasingly tight (and somewhat uninspiring) NFC East race. This win also showed that the Eagles can play a little defense, as they were able to limit the Redskins' run game and intercept Rex Grossman four times. For the Redskins, the loss means doubt. A victory could have given them something akin to control of the division race, and while they still appear as though they'll be a factor, their weaknesses were on display in this one, their very solid offensive line absorbed some key injuries and their quarterback may have lost his job. The Redskins head into Week 7 with more questions than answers.
Accountability: Eagles safety Jarrad Page wasn't the sole reason they lost last week in Buffalo, but his performance was abysmal, and it got him benched. Page was listed as inactive for the game, and Kurt Coleman started in his place and intercepted Grossman three times on his own. A week ago, I wrote the blame for the Eagles' struggles lay at the feet of Andy Reid, and part of the reason for that was I felt the Eagles' players didn't play with any urgency or fear of consequence. But benching Page was a way for Reid to make it clear there are consequences for not getting the job done, and whether the message was sent or not, the move paid off thanks to Coleman's big game.
QB controversy in DC: They were chanting for John Beck before Grossman's third interception, but he didn't come in until after the fourth. Once he did, he led the Redskins on a long touchdown drive that cut the Eagles' lead to 20-13 with 2:44 left in the game. Beck didn't look like Joe Montana or anything like that, but Grossman was stone-cold awful, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Beck get the start next week in Carolina. Regardless, this game showed that, if the Redskins need to rely on their quarterback to win them a game, they're in trouble. The Eagles somehow took Washington's run game away early and built a big lead. And even after the Redskins' defense tightened up in the second half, they didn't have enough to make the comeback.
McCoy is a major weapon: The Eagles' offense wasn't as dominant in the second half as it was in the first, but what they were able to do was run the ball with LeSean McCoy to eat up clock and ice their lead. McCoy so far this year has quite simply been one of the very best running backs in the league. He runs like a jigsaw, and the Eagles' offense works best when it's balanced between him and their big-play pass game. Michael Vick managed the game much better this week than he did last week in Buffalo, and the 28 run plays the Eagles called for McCoy were a big help.
Redskins' depth is a problem: One of the main reasons the Redskins have started hot and ran the ball so well in their first four games was the surprisingly strong play of the offensive line. But when left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and left tackle Trent Williams left the game with injuries, it was clear the run game took a major hit. The Redskins don't have much at offensive line behind the starters, and if those injuries are serious their offense will suffer for it.
Protecting Vick is vital: Vince Young is now 0-for-1 with an interception for the season, having thrown that one awful pass while Vick was on the sideline after taking a big hit. It was only one throw, sure, but it underlined the idea that the Eagles will go as far as Vick takes them.
What's next: The Eagles head into their bye week, take next weekend off and return to action Sunday night, Oct. 30 with a home game against the Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins travel to Carolina on Sunday to take on Cam Newton and the Panthers.