The Eagles, facing a game that could have meant the virtual end of their season, fought back from the brink with a tough, efficient showing against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, embarrassing their division rival in front of a disgruntled home crowd for much of the game.
Washington quarterback Rex Grossman played so badly against a revitalized Eagles defense that he was benched after three quarters and four interceptions, three of which were swiped by safety Kurt Coleman.
The 20-13 win doesn’t get them completely out of the woods, but they don’t look nearly as lost as they did in dropping four straight games. It’s still a long way to the clearing, and their home game after the bye against Dallas is now an enormous test, but there is still reason to believe the Eagles can recover to become a playoff team this season. That’s particularly true because the NFC East, as demonstrated by the Redskins, is neither consistent nor all that good.
It wasn’t the sort of resounding beatdown that the Eagles put on Washington in FedEx Field last season, one in which Michael Vick announced his full comeback, but it was a solid win. After starting off 1-4 – and facing the reality that a 1-5 team has never the playoffs in the current configuration – they will take their wins where they find them.
In the first half, the Eagles were dominating in running out to a 20-0 lead, and it could have been even worse for the Redskins. The Eagles settled for a pair of field goals on drives in which they had 1st-and-goal at the Washington 9-yard line and the 5-yard line.
The scariest moment of the game, as it usually does, involved Vick, who came out of the game after taking a hard hit in the third quarter. He was replaced briefly by backup Vince Young, who looked overmatched to the task. Young threw a quick interception (one that was offset rapidly by a pick thrown by Grossman) and Vick was able to return on the next series and complete the game.
The much-maligned defense of Juan Castillo had a good take – with some help from Grossman – and held things in check when the offense slowed down in the second half. After surrendering a total of 67 second-half points in the four consecutive losses, the Eagles held the Redskins to just a field goal until the game was nearly out of reach. Washinton backup John Beck engineered a TD drive with less than three minutes to play.
You can pick at this one a little. The offense scored its last touchdown with 14 minutes, 15 seconds to go in the second quarter. The defense didn't face much of a test. And so on. That wasn't the way to look at Sunday's game, though.
After six weeks, a 2-4 record isn’t what the Eagles were expecting or hoping for this season, but it beats the heck out of 1-5. It also beat the heck out of a Washington team that was under the impression it might be good.