Boykin takes advantage of good fortune
Robert Griffin III inexplicably launched a pass into the air off his back foot on third and 1 as the Redskins were driving for the game-tying touchdown. He tried to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone, but Fletcher Cox was bearing down on him. As the ball hung in the air, Brandon Boykin zeroed in and snatched his team-leading fourth interception and his second in as many games.
"When I saw the ball floating in the air, I was like, 'Is this real life? Like, wow,' " Boykin said. "I didn't care if I ran into my own teammate, I wanted to go up, make a play, and end the game, and that's what happened."
Boykin, the Eagles' slot cornerback, may not be a "starter" but he has become one of the best at his position in the NFL.
"When you have someone in there that is really a starter for you, is as talented as Brandon, I think it's a big plus," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said.
Cole breaks loose
Trent Cole had 16 multi-sack games in his first seven seasons, but had gone 30 games without more than one sack entering Sunday's game. More pressing has been the overall dearth of quarterback takedowns for the nine-year veteran. Cole had only four sacks over the last two seasons.
But he insisted, as did his coaches, that he had been getting pressure. But it sure had to feel nice to see the stat sheet after the Redskins game. Cole sacked the elusive Griffin twice and now has three sacks over the last three games.
The Eagles entered the game 29th in the league in sacks but recorded four. Cole left briefly in the fourth quarter when he collided with safety Patrick Chung. He went in for observation but returned and said afterward that he felt fine.
"Oh, yeah, I just got my brain switched around a little bit," Cole said.
For the fifth time this season the Eagles came out ahead in the turnover battle, and they've won in each instance. Their other victory came when they were even with the New York Giants, 1-1, in turnovers.
But giveaways-takeaways are typically a barometer for winning and losing, and the Redskins turned the ball over twice and the Eagles didn't.
"When you're plus in the turnover battle, if our defense can continue to create them like they are, we can continue to be smart and not spit the ball out on our side . . . then you've got a shot," Kelly said.
Other than Boykin's interception, linebacker Connor Barwin forced a fumble in the first half when he sacked Griffin.
No time for red flags
It may be time to just accept that challenging a questionable play isn't going to slow the Kelly locomotive. There were a few instances again when the Eagles coach could have dropped his red challenge flag but chose otherwise.
First, Redskins running back Alfred Morris was credited with a 9-yard carry in the first half when it appeared he had stepped out of bounds. And then later in the third quarter, Riley Cooper caught what appeared to be a touchdown after Nick Foles threw to him for 3 yards. But he was ruled just shy of the goal line.
"I saw Coach going, 'Tempo, tempo,' " Cooper said. "He said, 'No challenge, we'll get in.' "
They did. LeSean McCoy ran 1 yard, and the Eagles led, 24-0.
Taking the hits
Foles showed toughness, especially in the first half, when he took several hits and kept getting up. The Eagles quarterback was hit after a short pass in the second quarter and tweaked his shoulder. Foles stayed in and flexed his muscle by simulating throws in between plays. He said he did so to keep his arm from tightening up. Later in the drive, he was sacked by linebacker London Fletcher, and the back of his helmet hit the ground. He dusted himself off and bounced up.
"I've admired him," Kelly said. "Love the fact that I get to coach him and don't coach against him. But he is a tough kid."
One of the game's pivotal plays was Donnie Jones' 70-yard punt in the fourth quarter to pin Washington back on its 4 for its final drive. Jones, a veteran signed during the offseason, has had a strong year punting for the Eagles. On Sunday, he pinned Washington back on four of six punts and had a net average of 50.7 yards. The most important one was the final one.
"It was huge," Kelly said. "That's what it takes. To win in a division, you have to play well in all three phases. I thought that punt was huge for us."
Wheel in fast motion
McCoy's 49-yard reception in the first quarter was the longest of the game for the Eagles. It came on a wheel route with Redskins pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan attempting to cover McCoy. That was a mismatch that Foles immediately recognized. McCoy was dragged down at the 4-yard line by Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather.
"Trying to stop the run, they put the end on me, which I guess they thought was a good idea, and Nick found me, threw it," McCoy said. "It was a great read. Probably should have scored, huh?"
Celek's catch and run
The other big passing play was a 43-yard screen pass to Brent Celek that Celek ran all the way to the goal line. It was initially ruled a touchdown before the review determined Celek was down short of the end zone.
Celek showed impressive burst on the play, which is a testament to how the seven-year veteran has taken to Kelly's sports science program. Celek previously has said that the attention to nutrition and sleep has helped him this season, and he appeared quicker than he's looked in past years.
Up and down
The Eagles started Roc Carmichael as the outside cornerback for the second consecutive week, and Carmichael had an uneven performance. He was targeted in the fourth quarter, when Washington made its comeback. Washington's final touchdown, a 41-yard pass to Aldrick Robinson, was thrown in Carmichael's direction.