Eagles hold off Redskins — again — to grab control of NFC East lead
Second verse, same as the first … sort of.
Way back in Week 1, Michael Vick introduced the NFL to Chip Kelly’s offense by pacing the Eagles to a 33-7 lead against Washington, which they then held on to for dear life against a Redskins rally. Sunday, the Eagles and Redskins followed a near-identical script — Philadelphia raced out to a 24-0 edge, then needed a late defensive stand to close out the victory.
Only this time, Nick Foles was at the helm for the Eagles. Oh yeah, and that victory put Kelly’s team in first place in the NFC East with just six weeks left.
“I don’t look at it as individuals, I look at it as a team,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “It’s about what’s working for the team. … To win this week was huge. It’s about winning on a weekly basis.”
Washington scored 20 unanswered points in that earlier matchup, to pull within six late. In the rematch, a pair of Robert Griffin III TD passes (one to Darrel Young, one to Aldrick Robinson) plus two successful two-point conversions chopped Philadelphia’s 24-point lead down to eight.
The Redskins got the ball back again, too, and marched from their own 4-yard line to the Eagles’ 18 with 40 seconds left. But on a 3rd-and-1, Griffin fired an awful interception over the middle to Brandon Boykin, cementing the outcome.
“Crap’s going to hit the fan,” Kelly offered. “It’s just: how are you going to react?”
And the loss also may have sealed Washington’s fate in the division. For as much as they have struggled this season, the Redskins could have pulled within a half-game of first had they won. Instead, they sit 2.5 back and Philadelphia holds the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to its season sweep.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, controls its own destiny in the NFC East. After a Week 12 bye, the Eagles close with three of five at home and a potential division-deciding trip to Dallas in Week 17.
Kelly cited the team’s ability to avoid turnovers as critical in getting to this point, and it’s hard to argue. The Eagles did not cough the ball up at all Sunday, and in their last five victories they have a grand total of two turnovers.
All of Philadelphia’s wins up until Sunday had come away from home — the team had lost 10 in a row at Lincoln Financial Field dating to last season. Foles was miserable in his last appearance there, throwing for just 80 yards before leaving a 17-3 loss to Dallas with an injury.
He did not throw a TD pass against the Redskins Sunday, but he did open the scoring with a 4-yard rushing score and finished with 297 yards through the air. Perhaps even more surprising: He outrushed Griffin, 47 yards to 44, as the Eagles improved to 4-1 with Foles as their starter.
With that success, and a couple of nail-biting wins over the Redskins, the Eagles have staked their claim to the top of the division.