McMullen’s Quick Hits: Eagles Show Fight in Loss to Redskins
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Effort won’t be the story this week as a depleted Eagles team came up just short in a 27-22 loss to the Washington Redskins that crippled Philadelphia’s postseason hopes two weeks short of Christmas.
With the Eagles driving for a potential winning score in the waning seconds, Redskins edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan raced around Philadelphia's fourth right tackle of the season, Matt Tobin, to strip sack Carson Wentz.
When Trent Murphy retrieved the football, Philadelphia suffered its fourth straight loss and eighth in 10 games after a 3-0 start and fell to 0-4 in the NFC East. Tobin, who looked to be shaken up the play prior, was in the game after Allen Barbre was forced to leave with a hamstring issue.
“I had to go, It is what it is,” Tobin said when asked if he was OK. “He just beat be around the edge. He got around the edge with speed.”
With his top running back, Ryan Mathews, and bet receiver, Jordan Matthews, back in the lineup after recent injuries, Wentz had his best effort in weeks, completing 32-of-46 passes for 314 yards with a touchdown and a red-zone interception.
Mathews spearheaded the running game with 60 yards in 15 carries, especially after Wendell Smallwood was forced to leave with a knee injury.
Zach Ertz caught 10 of the 13 targets thrown his way for 112 yards but also ran a terrible route on Wentz’s lone pick and was guilty of a needless block in the back that took a Darren Sproles punt-return TD off the board. Matthews chipped in with eight receptions in 10 targets for 79 yards.
“It was a tight game,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. “We just can’t allow certain things to happen, especially with us. We can’t make mistakes out there.”
The Eagles lost long snapper Jon Dorenbos to a wrist injury and then his backup, Brent Celek, to a shoulder, leaving the long-snapping duties to Trey Burton, who seemed to win a de facto tryout on the sidelines as he, Mychal Kendricks and Bryan Braman were all seen warming up near the bench.
Celek had already misfired low on a potential Caleb Sturgis 50-yard field goal that holder Donnie Jones couldn’t handle. Burton sent it back way high on his lone opportunity but Jones handled that one and Sturgis was able to put through a 41-yarder to briefly give the Eagles a 22-21 advantage with 4:59 remaining.
"He did a great job," Burton said of Jones. "It was really high and he snugged it and brought it down. (Jones is) obviously really good at what he does."
Ironically, Dorenbos left in the game in which he tied Harold Carmichael's record for consecutive games at 162.
At right tackle, Barbre was only there due to Lane Johnson’s suspension and Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s knee injury and when the veteran went down with a hamstring, Tobin was forced to stand in. The Iowa product held up for the most part until there were 21 seconds left and Kerrigan beat him like a drum.
After a week of heavy criticism Eagles coach Doug Pederson did a nice job of getting Wentz on track early, drawing up some easy throws to bolster the confidence of the rookie.
The lone egregious throw was the end-zone interception to Deshazor Everett but Ertz did him no favors by letting a 198-pound corner, who typically plays special teams, to bully him on a terrible slant route. Matthews also failed to drag his feet on what should have been another TD throw for the youngster.
Pederson called it Wentz's best performance of the year.
"He came out and proved today that this is why we drafted him," the coach said. "He really stood in there, did a nice job today."
"We lost," Wentz countered. "That's what really matters. We lost. We didn't finish at the end. Kind of like when we played them the last time. We had a chance to finish the game and win it on offense and we didn't do that."
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For the second time in three weeks, Brandon Brooks was a late scratch after falling ill before the game, forcing rookie Isaac Seumalo into a starting role at RG. Considering all the moving parts, the Eagles’ offensive line held up pretty well for the most part, until the very end that is.
“I think it says a lot about (offensive line) coach (Jeff) Stoutland,” Tobin said. “He keeps everybody ready regardless.”
This game was basically won on three plays for the Redskins, an 80-yard home run in which DeSean Jackson beat Leodis McKelvin and showed every Eagles receiver how to track the football in the air, a 15-yard fade route for a TD where Pierre Garcon schooled Nolan Carroll, and a six-yard, 4th-and-1 conversion on the game-winning drive where Garcon simply boxed out and was more physical than McKelvin.
That said, Jim Schwartz’s defense showed effort and energy this afternoon with McKelvin’s 29-yard pick six of Kirk Cousins and a return to the sack column, with Fletcher Cox getting one and sharing another with Bennie Logan.
“It was something I really needed,” McKelvin said of his defensive TD. “They ran the play with me earlier. I just came back and Kirk threw the ball a little late and we made them pay for it.”
The defense also held a QB, who had been averaging well over 300 yards against them, to 234 and a large chunk of that coming on the one play to Jackson.
"The effort is always there," Cox said. "I don't think that anybody should question the effort of this football team."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen