An early fourth quarter turnover by Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins cut a 21-13 lead over the Eagles to two in a blink of an eye. The Redskins playoff hopes seemed to be in a great deal of danger as the Eagles continued to throw their best punches. The interception was of the “I should’ve known better” variety as Kirk was very naive to the area of the field in which he was throwing. A throw outside the hashes in man coverage needed to be way further toward the sideline away from the defender, but it fell way short, giving the defensive back a chance to make a play on the ball. Eagles DB Leodis Mckelvin took the interception back for a touchdown. The next Washington offensive drive resulted in an 3-and-out after an amazing throw and catch, the pass was caught by Jamison Crowder. Unfortunately for the Redskins, the catch was overturned due to both his feet not being down in bounds. All momentum was seemingly gone and moved in favor of the Eagles and their crowd. After the Eagles drove down the field in a seesaw affair to take the late lead 22-21, Washington got the ball with just under five minutes left and the drive to keep their season alive began.
The first down pass was incomplete to receiver Pierre Garcon, Cousins responded on second down with a beautiful 33-yard bullet to Crowder who made a great effort of holding onto the football to move the chains. A scramble from Cousins moves Washington to 2nd-and-4, a Robert Kelley carry nets just three yards. Third down turned to 4th-and-1 quick after a very predictable pass play to running back Chris Thompson was stopped short. On fourth down, Cousins turns to his most reliable target Pierre Garcon to move the chains for a first down. The pass was completed in tight man-to-man coverage as Garcon won the battle on the line of scrimmage quickly for seven yards, giving Washington a first down. Following the first down conversion were back-to-back runs by Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson. The latter of which ripped off a 25-yard touchdown run to give Washington a 27-22 lead.
The combination of Cousins and Garcon have hooked up for several big plays over the second half of the season, proving in the eyes of many why Pierre is so valuable to this team, especially to his quarterback. When asked post game how big of a play that was on fourth down, Kirk stated “It’s a big play, cause if we don’t get it we lose the game. I think the other point is Pierre does a good job winning versus man coverage, it’s a tough thing to do cause as I said, they were doing a good job of squatting on some intermediate routes and he had a tough job there, but he did it. He made a great catch and we were able to move the chains.” .
This drive was not about the amount of passes made from Cousins, it was the quality of throws. He was able to put his team in position to win a crucial road game against a division foe, which speaks volumes after the earlier pick-six. He responded to what could have been a game changing or even season defining negative play with confidence in himself and his receivers to make two of the biggest plays in the game.
In a post game interview with Trent Williams regarding the last drive and the confidence of Cousins, the tackle stated “It’s what he does man, this is what they pay him the big bucks to do. He has all the confidence in the world in his abilities, and we have confidence in him. Just being able to feed off his confidence, he’s the quarterback, he’s what makes this offense run and he does a great job, and you can’t say enough about him.” It’s a reason why this offense is not intimidated by any opposing defense, they believe their quarterback is not afraid to attack a defense and keep them in every game offensively.
The game was not over with this offensive score however, as the Eagles got the ball back with 1:53 seconds left in the game at Washington’s 25-yard line. Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense did not face a third down until reaching the Redskins 27-yard line with 35 seconds left. They reached converted a 3rd-and-10 with ease setting up a 1st-and-10 at the Redskins 14-yard line. The biggest knock of the Redskins defense has been 3rd-and-longs, something that is so favorable for a defense has become a historically bad deficiency for Washington. However two plays later, the fourth highest paid 3-4 outside linebacker in Ryan Kerrigan makes an impact play to strip sack Carson Wentz and Trent Murphy seals the victory with a great hustle effort to recover the loose football and push the Redskins record to 7-5-1 on the year.
Washington keeps their playoff hopes alive for another week with clutch performances by two of their best players. Obviously they did not get it all done by themselves, as the Redskins were able to return to a balanced offensive attack with 23 pass attempts and 19 rushing attempts between Thompson and Kelley for 101 yards. Defensively, the same yearly issues were still glaring, but two turnovers were forced when Philadelphia reached the redzone, erasing possible points for the Eagles.
The Redskins face the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football in their next game, another tough game for a banged up Washington team. However if Washington wants any chance of keeping up in the playoff race, the next man up mentality must continue and Washington must get the job done. They’ll be facing a motivated Panthers team that has the opportunity to play spoiler as they have already been eliminated from the postseason. They’d love nothing more than to have Washington join them.