Eagles

Nelson Agholor jump-starts Eagles' season-opening win over Redskins

Nelson Agholor jump-starts Eagles' season-opening win over Redskins

BOX SCORE

LANDOVER, Md. — The Eagles finally snapped the streak. 

Who cares if it wasn't pretty? 

The Eagles did just enough Sunday afternoon to take down Washington, 30-17, their first win against their division foe since Sept. 21, 2014. 

The Eagles jumped out to an early lead before Washington recovered. But eventually, the Eagles were able to walk out of FedEx Field with a big opening day win. 

With the win, the Eagles start their season with a win for the sixth time in their last seven seasons and snapped a five-game losing streak to Washington. 

Carson Wentz didn't have his best game but made some spectacular plays with his feet to extend plays. He was 26 for 39 for 307 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating was 96.8.

The game was extremely close until the end. The Eagles extended their five-point lead to 13 with less than two minutes left when Brandon Graham forced a fumble (that appeared to be an incomplete pass), and Fletcher Cox picked it up and returned it to the house. The Eagles tacked on a two-point conversion. 

Turning point
Washington was driving early in the fourth quarter, down two, with a chance to take a lead late. But Jim Schwartz dialed up the blitz and brought Jordan Hicks up the gut. Kirk Cousins threw the ball to the goal line but Jalen Mills was waiting to pick it off. 

Key stat
The Eagles were 8 for 14 on third downs, while Washington was just 3 for 11. 

First half 
The Eagles had a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter before allowing Washington to score the next 14 points. 

Caleb Sturgis, who missed an extra point, capped a late first-half drive with a 50-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 16-14 halftime lead.

The Eagles came out firing. On their first offensive drive of the game, Wentz somehow avoided a rush and hit Nelson Agholor deep for a 58-yard touchdown catch. Then a little later, Jamison Crowder muffed a punt, the Eagles recovered and scored when LeGarrette Blount caught his second-career touchdown pass to cap a 39-yard drive. 

But then things got ugly.

Ronald Darby left the game with a nasty ankle injury, and on the next possession, Ryan Kerrigan picked off a tipped pass and took it 24 yards for a pick-6. On the next drive, Washington went 69 yards on eight plays, scoring on a 29-yard touchdown catch from Chris Thompson. The Eagles missed several tackles on that play. 

Offensive stud
Agholor had a 58-yard touchdown pass and already had a career game before the first half ended. Agholor had a career high in catches (six) and receiving yards (86). 

Zach Ertz also had a big afternoon. It was just his second 90-yard game before December in his career. 

Offensive dud
We'll give this to Alshon Jeffery. The Eagles' prized free agent acquisition didn't have much of an impact in his debut with the team. Blount, aside from his receiving touchdown, didn't really do much on the ground either. 

Defensive stud
The Eagles lost Darby, but Jalen Mills more than held his own. He had his first-career interception and provided really solid coverage on Terrelle Pryor. He was very competitive. 

The Eagles' front four also had a great game and capped it off when Graham forced a fumble and Cox picked it up and rumbled into the end zone for his second career touchdown. 

Defensive dud
Nigel Bradham struggled Sunday. He missed a tackle on the Thompson touchdown and was later hit with a defensive holding on a big third down. 

Injuries
Early in the second quarter, the Eagles lost cornerback Ronald Darby to a right ankle injury (see story). The starting CB needed to be carted off the field after it looked like his right foot got caught in the turf. It was an ugly injury. 

UPDATE:

Jason Peters came out of the game late in the second quarter with a groin injury. He returned for one play at the start of the second half but then shut it down. 

UPDATE:

DT Destiny Vaeao (wrist) left in the second half and was listed as questionable to return. 

The Eagles came into the game incredibly healthy. All 53 players on the roster practiced in full all week, including Brandon Graham and Jordan Hicks, who had both been banged up at the end of the preseason. 

Up next 
Next week holds a tough test for the Eagles. They'll have to travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs, who are coming off a big upset win over the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in Foxboro. Oh yeah, and Andy Reid has three extra days to prepare for the Birds. Whenever Big Red has extra time, he normally makes the most of it. 

Jay Gruden 'very upset' Eagles were able to land Carson Wentz

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USA Today Images

Jay Gruden 'very upset' Eagles were able to land Carson Wentz

Washington head coach Jay Gruden has faced Carson Wentz just three times so far.

That's all he needed to think Wentz is special.  

"I think he's progressed at a rate as fast as anybody I've seen really," Gruden said on a conference call with Philly reporters on Thursday. "His ability to make plays in the pocket, his ability to stay in the pocket in the face of a rush and still deliver balls accurately, his command of the offense. 

"I think he's already proven this short in his career that he's one of the top quarterbacks in the league, quite frankly, and he's going to be for a long time. And I don't know how he got to Philadelphia. And I'm very upset about that." 

Wentz is 1-2 against Washington in his first three games, but that first win came in this season's opener on the road. In that game, Wentz completed 66 percent of his passes for 307 yards, two touchdowns and one pick, for a passer rating of 96.8. 

And Wentz has gotten even better since then. He's now the favorite in Vegas to win the NFL MVP. 

When asked how daunting it might become to face Wentz twice per season for the foreseeable future, Gruden pointed out that it's similar to the Cowboys and Dak Prescott. Then he pointed out they still have to face Eli Manning twice per season. 

"Every week it seems like we're playing against an excellent quarterback and knowing that Wentz is going to be there for a long period of time just puts a few more gray hairs on my head," Gruden said. "But love the competition and it's our job to get after him and make him uncomfortable." 

While Wentz is clearly the Eagles' quarterback of the future, things are a little cloudier in Washington, where Kirk Cousins is in his second year of playing on a franchise tag. 

Gruden said the "intent" is to have Cousins for the long-term, but it's already been a long saga and there's still no deal in place. 

Cousins has had a crazy career path. He began as Robert Griffin III's backup after being taken three rounds later in the same draft in 2012. But he won the starting job and he's started every game for Washington the last three seasons. 

Thursday, on a conference call with Philly reporters, Cousins said he thought there was a good chance the Eagles were going to draft him in 2012. He felt that way after meeting with Howie Roseman and Andy Reid before the draft. But instead, the Eagles took Nick Foles 14 spots ahead of him. 

After watching the Eagles rotate quarterback since then, Cousins doesn't have any hard feelings. 

"I think the Eagles have ended up with the guy that they want," Cousins said. "I think they're really excited about Carson Wentz and for good reason. They're one of the best teams in the league on third down, and some of the plays he's making off-schedule are very special. I think they're very content and I'd like to think the Redskins are as well. Hopefully, it can make for a great rivalry that a lot of fans can get behind and get excited about, hopefully, for many years ahead."

Doug Pederson responds to Chris Thompson's comments about Eagles fans

Doug Pederson responds to Chris Thompson's comments about Eagles fans

Redskins running back Chris Thompson doesn't want to bring his family to the Linc Monday night because he's afraid of what Eagles fans will do.

Doug Pederson hopes Thompson changes his mind.

"Philly fans are some of the meanest fans I've ever experienced," Thompson told ESPN radio's Washington affiliate, ESPN 980, on Wednesday, according to a story in the Washington Post.

"I heard that's the one stadium you keep your family from going to. My family will be (up from Florida) this week, and they were like, 'I want to come to the Philly game.' I said, 'Absolutely not, you're going to have to wait until Dallas comes around. … I was told that right away my rookie year: Keep your family away."

Pederson said he loves Eagles fans and the energy and passion they bring but also said he hopes Thompson or any opposing player feels comfortable bringing his family to the Linc.  

"I just know that playing at home is a great advantage for us," Pederson said before practice Thursday. "Our fans are great, they're energetic, I love playing at the Linc. 

"You know, I hope every family can watch their sons play. I think it's important that they're there and have a chance to watch their siblings play, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents.

"Right now in the league, every stadium is great for the home team and ours is no different. We're just excited now to finally be getting a stretch of games where we can play for the home fans."

Thompson, a fifth-year running back out of Florida State, has played at the Linc twice, in 2015 and 2016, both Redskins wins.

The Eagles, 5-1, host the 3-2 Redskins in a national TV game Monday night at the Linc. The Eagles are 8-2 at home under Pederson, including a 2-0 mark this year, although they're only 4-6 at home against the Redskins over the last 10 years.