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Redskins' defense, RG3 pummel reeling Eagles


Redskins' defense, RG3 pummel reeling Eagles

In summary: The Redskins will depart for Dallas later this week with something to play for after all.

“That’s what you have to do,” Coach Mike Shanahan said after Sunday's 31-6 vicory over the hapless Eagles, the most lopsided victory in his two-plus season tenure. “This is a tough profession. We’ve lost some tough games, some games we should have won. A number of games were [close] heading into the fourth quarter. You don’t get it done, so you find out what type of character you do have and the toughest [players] on your football team.” 

“It was a game we had to have," he added. "We knew that.”

And for 60 minutes they played like it, pummeling a staggering opponent that’s begun to come apart at the seams.

Since the outcome was never in doubt, these three stats ought to do a pretty good job of summing up the events at FedEx Field:

  • Robert Griffin III was 14 of 15 passing for 200 yards, a career-high four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 84-yards on 12 carries – four more yards on the ground than the Eagles had combined. Griffin finished with a perfect passer rating of 158.3. 
  • Griffin’s counterpart, fellow rookie Nick Foles, was sacked four times by a relentless Redskins’ pass rush that took full advantage of the Eagles’ makeshift offensive line. Foles also was intercepted by DeAngelo Hall and Brandon Meriweather.
  • The six points the Redskins’ defense yielded were the fewest since a 10-3 win over the Eagles in 2008. Whether that speaks to home team’s prowess or the Eagles’ messy state of affairs probably depends on whom you ask.

Unfortunately for the 4-6 Redskins, they won’t get much time to savor their first victory in four games. In fact, they are scheduled to practice Monday afternoon at Redskins Park in preparation for their Thanksgiving Day showdown against the 5-5 Cowboys, who beat the Browns, 23-20, in overtime.

“Due to the fact that we play on Thanksgiving, I’m already looking forward to [Dallas],” wide receiver Santana Moss said. “So I’m not even thinking about [Philadelphia]. I’m already moving on and ready to get the body rested up so we can go out there and play Thursday.”

Here are eight more notes, quotes and observations:

Turning point: The Redskins were leading 14-3 late in the second quarter when Eagles running back LeSean McCoy had the ball knocked from his grasp by nose tackle Barry Cofield. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan wrestled the loose ball away at the bottom of the pile, and three plays later, kicker Kai Forbath booted a 25-yard field goal to send the Redskins into the locker room with a 17-3 lead and the Eagles doubting themselves. 

Forbath is now 9 for 9, the best mark to open a career for a Redskins’ kicker. Graham Gano was 8 for 8, spanning the 2009-10 seasons.

Offensive play of the game: The Redskins were leading 17-6 in the third quarter, when Griffin sidestepped the Eagles’ rush and heaved a deep ball to wide receiver Santana Moss.

Generously listed at 5 foot 10, 189 pounds, Moss leaped between safety Kurt Coleman and cornerback Brandon Boykin to haul in the 61-yard touchdown pass. After the score, Griffin did an exaggerated fist pump as an official tossed a flag behind him. Eagles tackle Cullen Jenkins mocked Griffin’s gesture, thinking the flag would negate the touchdown. As it turned out, though, the flag was on Philly.

“We had a nice discussion about that on the field,” said Griffin, who walked over to talk to Jenkins. “He said he felt like an idiot after it. It’s good to see guys out there having fun.”

Defensive play of the game: Brandon Meriweather made up for lost time Sunday. In the first quarter of his season debut, the veteran safety read Foles perfectly, stepped between the quarterback and DeSean Jackson and made his first interception of the season.

Meriweather also returned the ball 25 yards, showing no ill effects of the left knee injury that had sidelined him all season. While the pick didn’t result in points for the Redskins, it halted a promising Eagles’ drive with Washington leading 7-0.

Meriweather finished with seven tackles, tied for second on the team. But he also left the game in the third quarter after straining his right knee.

“I actually think the fact that all four of our starters [in the secondary] were together for the first time just brought a [boost] to our defense,” Meriweather said. “We realize that everything falls on us, so we played like it.”

Injury report: Meriweather said he hopes to play Thursday, but he walked out of the Redskins locker room with a pronounced limp. Meriweather said he missed the rest of the game for precautionary reasons.

“It was more us thinking about the future,” Meriweather said. “We were already up by so much and the defense was playing great.”

…Josh Wilson said he’s okay after suffering a shoulder injury late in the fourth quarter. Wilson has been on the injury report with a shoulder ailment for several weeks.

…Wide receiver Pierre Garçon returned after missing four games with a foot injury but was used sparingly. “Foot felt all right,” Garçon said. “It felt good enough to go out there and help as much as I could.”

Garçon said he intends to suit up in Dallas, but also voiced concerns about playing on the field turf. “It’s going to be another challenge to get out there,” Garçon said.

…Tight end Logan Paulsen left the game briefly in the second half because of a left hip injury. He said the doctors checked him out and don’t believe he’ll miss any time.

…Eagles running back LeSean McCoy suffered a concussion and was carted off the field in the fourth quarter.

Quote of the day: Griffin: “God blessed me with the ability to move around a lot more than other quarterbacks. You try to use that when you can [such as when] a guy is not open, so you don’t have to force things. But when guys are open, you get them the rock and let them make plays.”

Quote of the day, Part II: Eagles Coach Andy Reid on his team’s six-game losing streak: “It’s my responsibility to make sure these guys get an opportunity to do the right thing, and get them to do the right thing. I am not doing a good enough job at it.”

Game ball: Griffin earns it this week with a near perfect performance in a game his team simply had to win. With 2,193 passing yards and 613 rushing yards, he’s only the third rookie to surpass 2,000 yards passing and 500 rushing in the same season. Vince Young and Cam Newton are the others.

By the numbers: With 169 rushing yards, the Redskins have topped 150 yards eight times in 10 games this season. That’s more than any other team. They also added to their league leading penalty total, getting flagged 13 times for 80 yards.

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Despite mistakes, Redskins' Gruden has faith in WR Grant

Despite mistakes, Redskins' Gruden has faith in WR Grant

Redskins receiver Ryan Grant played 20 snaps against the Lions on Sunday. He was targeted twice and had one reception for five yards. But people were still talking about him after the game because of a couple of errors he made that could have been very costly.

The worst mistake came in the fourth quarter with the Redskins trailing 13-10. When Grant lined up for the play, he was on the line of scrimmage, covering up Ty Nsekhe, who had reported as an eligible receiver. According to the rules, an eligible receiver has to be line up either at one end of the line or in the backfield. Grant should have lined up off the line of scrimmage. The penalty negated a 27-yard completion to Vernon Davis.

Fortunately, the Redskins did go on to score a touchdown. But it was still a major gaffe for a third-year player.

“Yeah, that was tough when he covered up,” said Jay Gruden. “Nsekhe was in the game and I think he thought Nsekhe was a lineman—he didn’t realize he had reported as a tackle—so he saw the other tight end was off the ball so he got on. That’s a mistake that obviously is frustrating and we can’t have, but I can see where that could’ve messed him up a little bit. The referee was trying to get him back and he just didn’t see it.”

That’s the thing. The referee will tell you if you’re lined up properly or if you need to get off the line. If you’re a part-time player who doesn’t take many practice snaps with the starters you should check with the official 100 percent of the time.

Earlier the Redskins’ previous touchdown drive was almost derailed when Grant missed a hand signal from Kirk Cousins and ran the wrong route, almost causing an interception.

“The other one was a quick hand signal and he didn’t get it,” said Gruden. “It’s just something we have to work on—our communication—the ball was snapped quickly. But, yeah, you’re right. I think Ryan wishes he has those two back.”

It remains to be seen if another receiver will be activated in Grant’s place. But he has always seemed to be one of Gruden’s favorite players and, indeed, the coach finished the discussion of his mistakes by praising him.

“There’s nobody in this building that works harder than Ryan,” said Gruden. “He does a lot of the dirty work for us. He gets in there and digs out safeties for us in the running game. He’s a very important part of this offense and he’ll still get better.”

Sure doesn’t sound like a guy who is headed for the bench. And, to be fair, Grant will probably learn from his mistakes and not repeat them. We will see how this unfolds.

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NFC East Update: Redskins loss in Detroit might prove costly as Eagles beat Vikings

NFC East Update: Redskins loss in Detroit might prove costly as Eagles beat Vikings

The Beast is back - The NFC East is the only division in the NFL where every team has a winning record. And that could mean tough trails for the Redskins as both the Giants and Eagles won on Sunday while Washington lost a heartbreaker in Detroit. An update across the division:

  1. The Dallas Cowboys (5-1,1-1) gave up no ground last week while they took their bye week. The Redskins had a big chance to equal Dallas with a fifth win, but Washington's last-second loss in Detroit is well documented at this point. The Cowboys should be getting healthier too; receiver Dez Bryant might return soon, though the elephant in Jerry Jones' room remains what happens when Tony Romo can come back.
  2. Even without their best game from rookie QB Carson Wentz, the Philadelphia Eagles (4-2, 0-1) bounced back in a big way with a good home win over previously undefeated Minnesota. The win showed off the best of the Eagles defense against their former QB Sam Bradford, and sets up a huge matchup this week against the Cowboys. Don't forget, the Eagles win over the Vikings could prove important in an NFC Wild Card tiebreak scenario, though something like that is still months away.
  3. It just feels like the Washington Redskins (4-3, 2-1) loss in Detroit will prove costly in January. There's a huge difference between 5-2 and 4-3, and now the 'Skins travel to London to take on a tough Bengals team. It will be a tough pill for this team to enter the bye at 4-4 after reeling off a four-game win streak, putting extra importance on this Sunday's game against Cincinatti. And much like the Eagles helped themselves out with the NFC win over the Vikes, the 'Skins doubly dug a hole with the NFC loss to the Lions, a team now with the same record as Washington.
  4. If it seems hard to get a read on the New York Giants (4-3, 1-1) that's because it is. Eli Manning is not playing particularly well, but the wild ability of Odell Beckham has allowed the Giants offense just enough to make plays in the passing game. The Giants rank 20th in the NFL in yards gained-per-game, and our 19th in yards given up-per-game. That recipe doesn't sound great, and yet, the Giants are winning. Eli and the G-Men tend to get hot late in the year, and so far, they are treading enough water to still make a late-season run.

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