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Redskins' defense, RG3 pummel reeling Eagles

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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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Redskins RB Thompson still will be nervous on cut down day

Redskins RB Thompson still will be nervous on cut down day

You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program. But he says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.

“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club. “For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”

The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.

In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.

“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.

Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.

“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”

Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday. 

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RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

Matt Jones entered the 2016 season as the Redskins undisputed starter at running back.

That lasted seven games.

By Week 8, Jones landed on the inactive list, and he never took another snap all year.

With OTAs beginning for the 2017 season, it looks like Jones might not play with the team. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

In April at the NFL Draft, reports surfaced that Washington was trying to trade Jones.

Weeks before that, at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had to be reminded that Jones was still on the roster as the coach talked about the running back situation for this fall.

Robert Kelley surpassed Jones as the top running back on the team last season with Chris Thompson secure in his third down back role. 

Mack Brown even moved past Jones on the depth chart. When the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, that signaled even bigger trouble for Jones' roster situation.

The Redskins will likely only keep four running backs this fall, and with Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Brown, it sure seems like Jones is the odd man out.

It's remarkable considering Jones has size, speed and an NFL resume that has three 100-yard games on it in just 20 games. The Redskins spent a third-round pick on Jones in 2015, and he largely ousted fan favorite Alfred Morris from the RB1 role as a rookie. 

Life comes at you quick in the NFL.

Jones is a clear example of that. 

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