Washington’s football team has done what few, very few expected at the start of the season. Last night in prime time, they took the rights to the NFC East Crown from the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins appeared to have botched things with the end of the first half in which Kirk Cousins had a “moment” and kneeled the ball with six seconds left in the half with his team just yards away from the endzone. While that made it’s rounds through social media like wildfire, it was Cousins and the Redskins that would have the last laugh. All at the expense of Chip Kelly’s Eagles, Washington extended their win streak to three with their division clinching victory in Philadelphia. Cousins and the offense had a big night while Washington’s defense made some huge plays in their 38-24 win.
As expected by most in a game between division foes, it was close when it happened. The play that changed the game, the Eagles had the ball trailing 23-17. DeMarco Murray had scored from four yards out on the Eagles previous possession, Philadelphia went back to their priority off season signing, but the toss from Sam Bradford to Murray didn’t go as planned. Murray dropped the pitch, that’s all Washington’s DeAngelo Hall needed as the converted safety sped in to scoop the loose ball and take it in for the 17-yard score (Hall’s TD was first defensive TD by Redskins in Philadelphia since Sean Taylor’s in 2005). Philadelphia never recovered, it didn’t help that Bradford missed tight end Zach Ertz on a third-and-nine play that may have led to a 60-yard touchdown.
Still, there’s no guarantee that the Eagles would have stopped the hot Washington offense. Tight end Jordan Reed made the Eagles pay for not double-teaming him, he is too fast for linebackers and too big for safeties. His biggest gift is his route-running, he may be the best in the league in that regard. He tormented the Philadelphia defense for nine catches for 129 yards on 11 targets. Cousins took advantage of his ability to separate and went to him early and often.
With the Eagles determined to slow the rushing attack of Washington, who was without rookie back Matt Jones, they apparently decided to dare Cousins to beat them. The former Spartan didn’t hesitate to do so, spreading the ball around to hit seven different receivers. The “Pieres” would have a big game, that being Pierre Garcon and Pierre Thomas. Garcon received single coverage most of the night and took advantage of it, garnering 80 yards on seven catches and a score. He routinely moved the chains for Washington. Thomas who was added just last week, hurt the eagles with his ability to catch the ball. He looked like the back that was once a dual threat back in New Orleans with Drew Brees. His seven catches were very timely, more importantly it kept the Eagles from focusing on just one of Washington’s pass catchers.
Will Compton continued his strong play in the middle of Washington’s defense, tallying nine tackles and a sack. Rookie Preston Smith showed why he is deserving of more snaps, he had his best game of the season against Philadelphia’s Jason Peters. The Pro Bowl left tackle just struggled with the combination of speed and power the rookie presented. Smith would end the game with four tackles, three of which were sacks. A dominating performance for yet another member of Scot McCloughan’s first draft class in Washington.
Joe Barry’s defense completely stifled the Eagles run game, Zach Ertz was really the only player on Philadelphia’s offense that was able to get open. Jordan Matthews finished with six catches for 104 yards, but much of that was in garbage time.
Back to Cousins, it’s all paid off for him and Gruden. The decision to make him the starter for the entire year, committing this year to him and only him paid off. He was able to grow without having to constantly look over his shoulder, he’s had his lows and highs, but at this moment he’s playing some of the best football of any signal caller in the league. He abused the Eagles secondary en route to a four touchdown night, going 31-of-46 for 365 yards. He’s continuing to make his case that he is the quarterback Washington’s been looking for, Cousins play has said that they need to look no further than him.