First and 10: Eagles Pay Significant Price in Sweeping ‘Skins
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Perseverance has been the theme for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2017 season and that continued at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night as Doug Pederson's team overcame injuries to Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks to finish off a season sweep of the Washington Redskins with a 34-24 victory.
The Eagles have now won five straight games and are an NFL-best 6-1 on the season.
An 11-day layoff may have contributed to a sluggish start but the Eagles awoke late in the second quarter when Carson Wentz hit rookie Mack Hollins in stride for a 64-yard touchdown to deadlock the game at 10 apiece. Philadelphia then bridged the second and third quarters with a pair of scoring drives that put the Redskins behind the 8-ball.
In front of intermission, it was Wentz finding Zach Ertz for a 4-yard score and after, an MVP-level throw under duress to another rookie, Corey Clement, resulted in a 9-yard TD.
"He's amazing," Receiver Alshon Jeffery said of Wentz. "On the touchdown to Corey, I'm like, I didn't know how he saw him. He must have Spiderman vision. He's great. He does a great job just making plays and seeing guys."
The cost of essentially burying the Redskins in the NFC East was steep, however, as Hicks was carted off with what was called an ankle injury and Peters followed with what certainly looked like a significant knee injury.
Wentz, meanwhile, is no mirage as he threw for four touchdowns, his third straight game with at least three scoring passes.
"It's very disappointing being the second time in a row we lost to them," Redskins tight end Jordan Reed said. "It was a huge, critical game for the NFC East. They outplayed us today. They deserved it."
10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW:
-Wentz had 16 touchdown passes in 16 games during his rookie season. He's now up to 17 through seven games in his sophomore season and the MVP talk will only heat up after this game.
The final numbers were 17-of-25 for 268 yards for a 126.3 passer rating and another 63 yards on the ground. There were magical passes and Houdini-like escapes proving when you have the quarterback everything else falls into place.
-No left tackle in the game was playing better than Peters this season and the 35-year-old will be missed. If he's gone for the season, which is feared, Lane Johnson will likely make the move to the left side with Halapoulivaati Vaitai getting the first crack at right tackle.
Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland has made it clear, however, he doesn't want Johnson flipping sides in game without any reps to get used to the footwork and mechanics of switching sides. So, Vaitai handled LT in-game as the swing tackle and actually held up OK.
"I really don't know," Johnson said when asked about moving to LT after the game. "I haven't had any reps there so I'll probably know more this week. I'm fine with it. We're going to be facing pass rushers like DeMarcus Lawrence and Von Miller coming in here so there is really no place to hide."
-Hicks confirmed in the locker room Saturday that favoring an ankle injury resulted in a calf issue but the middle linebacker was confident he was healthy enough to play. That lasted all of two snaps as he collapsed in coverage as Vernon Davis raced past him down the seam for a 31-yard gain. Hicks was helped off but couldn't put any weight on his right leg and was ultimately carted from the sideline. It certainly had the look of an Achilles injury.
With the Eagles playing nickel for most of the night and Mychal Kendricks out with a hamstring injury, Najee Goode got most of the action and has his issues at times, particularly losing Chris Thompson on a 7-yard TD pass.
"We're praying for him and best wishes for him," fellow LB Nigel Bradham said of Hicks. "That's a freak injury and it's going to hurt us to lose one like that."
-Jake Elliott can forget another pee test this week. The Eagles' kicker banged through his 11th and 12th straight field goals and his fourth consecutive of 50-or-more by connecting on a 50-yarder but he also booted a 45-yarder off the upright late. Ironically, David Akers entered the Eagles' Hall Of Fame at halftime and never kicked more than three 50-yarders during any season of his brilliant career.
-Hollins turned this game around by getting deep and if he continues to improve, it might be time to look at him as the field stretcher instead of Torrey Smith, who was targeted once in this game and failed to track a deep ball that turned into Wentz's only interception of the night.
-The career year for Zach Ertz continues as the tight end caught all five of his targets for 89 yards and the TD. He also has one gash for 46 yards.
-Nelson Agholor may be the most improved offensive player in the NFL and really has been the Eagles' most productive receiver. Wentz and Alson Jeffery continue to work on the chemistry as the WR1 caught two balls in six targets but one of them was a beautiful 50/50 ball down the left sideline.
-Wendell Smallwood was back in the running back-by-committee after missing two games with knee swelling and nearly trumped LeGarrette Blount with eight carries for 25 yards. Blount, meanwhile, has just 29 yards on 14 carries and 21 of that came on one run late in the game so he was largely ineffective. The best runner by far was Wentz himself.
-The Eagles pass rush got home four times with rookie Derek Barnett getting Kirk Cousins on two occasions. Fletcher Cox and Malcolm Jenkins were the others to snare the Washington QB.
-Veteran safety Corey Graham had his first interception as an Eagle in the fourth quarter which set up Elliott's second FG. The Eagles continued to mix and match on the back end while waiting for Ronald Darby's return.
Darby returned to practice in a limited fashion leading up to the game and Pederson said he might play "if the stars align." The Eagles erred on the side of caution and it worked as Patrick Robinson, Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas held down things at corner with Graham and Jaylen Watkins also getting a little time in nickel and dime packages.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen