In Friday’s preview, we examined the keys to a Redskins’ victory over the scuffling Eagles. Today, we’re taking our weekly look back at how it all played out at FedEx Field:
1 – Apply relentless pressure and confuse quarterback Nick Foles, who was making his first career start in the place of concussed veteran Michael Vick. The Redskins’ maligned unit did that and more, taking advantage of a makeshift Eagles’ offensive line and young quarterback who is not yet ready for prime time.
On the Eagles’ first possession, Barry Cofield and Ryan Kerrigan flushed Foles from the pocket. Foles foolishly attempted to squeeze a pass into Brent Celek, despite tight coverage from London Fletcher. Foles’ off-target pass ricocheted off Celek and into the hands of DeAngelo Hall for an interception.
On the Eagles’ second possession, Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley blitzed Foles on a third-and-21. The 23-year-old panicked and threw an ill-advised pass into a crowd of burgundy jerseys, which included safety Brandon Meriweather, who made an easy interception.
Foles spent the rest of the game looking over his shoulder -- and for good reason. He was also sacked four times (Riley, Kerrigan, Josh Wilson and Rob Jackson.) The Redskins had not sacked a quarterback in the previous two games.
2 – Would Pierre Garçon play? Indeed, the wide receiver returned from a four game absence, but his impact (statistically, at least) was muted. In fact, the wide receiver was limited to three receptions for five yards while taking part in only 21 of the offense’s 53 snaps. After gaining seven yards on his first catch, each of his next two were for minus-1 yard.
Garçon said he’s disappointed that his injured right foot won’t allow him to do more. But he confirmed that he did not suffer a setback and will suit up Thursday in an attempt to help in anyway he can.
Robert Griffin III, meantime, praised Garçon’s gutsy effort, saying, “It feels good to have guys like that in the huddle with you. It gives you an extra sense of confidence and he brings some attitude to the receiving corps.”
3 – How about Meriweather? He suited up as well, but unlike Garçon, he made a major and immediate impact on the Redskins’ previously struggling defense, which limited the Eagles to 257 yards of total offense (a season-low for Jim Haslett's unit). But there was also some concern for the veteran safety following the game. After missing the season’s first nine games with a left knee sprain, he sprained his right knee in the third quarter and did not return to the field.
Before the injury, Meriweather made seven tackles (tied with Hall for second on the team), grabbed an interception, defended two passes and made one tackle for a loss.
As Meriweather limped out of the locker room, he said he expects to play in Dallas. A more concrete update, however, will be provided by Coach Mike Shanahan when he addresses the media at 3 p.m.
4 – As for the ridiculously high number of mental miscues and penalties, well, those continued to plague the Redskins. In all, they were flagged 13 times for total of 80 yards. Of the penalties, five were for false starts, including two by Alfred Morris. Riley and Tyler Polumbus also got flagged for illegal formations.
Through 10 games this season, the Redskins average a league-worst 8.8 penalties per game, including an average of 11 in the past three games.
“Working out of the pistol and the shotgun, puts a little pressure on our offense,” Shanahan said. “It’s something we’ll work on. But it’s something we have to get better at.”
The Redskins overcame the mistakes and earned their most lopsided victory in more than five years by steamrolling a sagging, injury-depleted Eagles’ team. They’ll take it, of course, but they also know they’ll need to be sharper Thursday at Cowboys Stadium.