Football Team

Week 2 proves late-game execution will win NFC East

Football Team
Cowboys

Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season saw all four NFC East teams wrapped up in close games down the stretch.

The Washington Football Team traded leads throughout the fourth quarter of its Thursday night clash with the Giants, the Dallas Cowboys won on a game-winning field goal by Greg Zuerlein and the Philadelphia Eagles fell to San Francisco by six points thanks to a few costly penalties. 

Once again, the NFC East doesn't appear to have a clear-cut favorite who's going to run away with the division with 12-to-13 wins. There are four flawed teams with various strengths in different areas who all seem destined for a roller-coaster regular season. The deciding factor at the end of the year may just be how teams fare in the types of close games we saw this week. 

Washington Football Team (1-1, T-1st)

After dropping its season opener to the Los Angeles Chargers, Washington secured a much-needed victory over the Giants on Thursday night thanks to a game-winning field goal from Dustin Hopkins. Their late-game execution wasn't great with Taylor Heinicke at the helm, who threw what could've been a disastrous interception late in the fourth quarter. 

But the Giants' execution was worse. Following Heinicke's interception with a little more than two minutes to go, New York took an extremely cautious approach to its final drive of the game and played for the field goal rather than try for the end zone. 

Washington has some things to clean up, but has the ever-valuable division win under its belt heading into Week 3. 

 

Philadelphia Eagles (1-1, T-1st)

The Eagles were the only team in the division to win in Week 1 and probably should've moved to 2-0 if it weren't for a few questionable play calls and dumb penalties in the second half. The offense came up short in several short-yardage situations including a failed "Philly Special," while the defense committed two costly personal foul penalties late in the fourth quarter. 

Philadelphia looks like it's much better than anyone thought it would be entering the season, but if the Eagles continue to be underwhelming on third down, (5-12 in Week 2) and can't finish off drives in the red zone, the offense simply doesn't have the talent to overcome those shortcomings. Meanwhile, the defense is designed to limit big plays so it feels a bit counterintuitive to gift the other team 15 yards every other drive. 

We should learn a lot about the Eagles in their Week 3 matchup at Dallas. 

Dallas Cowboys (1-1, T-1st)

The Cowboys may have come out with a win on the road thanks to a game-winning field goal, but their clock management late in the game wasn't all that inspiring. Mike McCarthy cited various on-field issues that forced him to let the clock wind down and settle for a 56-yard try for the win, but if Zuerlein didn't drill the kick, the head coach would've been feeling the heat in Dallas with his 0-2 football team. 

All that aside, a win is a win, and the Cowboys have plenty to feel good about as they try to improve to 2-1 against Philadelphia in Week 3. Their defense looks to be improved from last season and they found a way to move the ball on the ground against Los Angeles, which they couldn't do in their season opener. 

New York Giants (0-2, 4th)

And then there's the Giants, all alone as the only winless team in the division after a tough loss to Washington. Not only did their conservative approach in their final drive give Washington a chance to set up a go-ahead field goal and cause a sideline spat between Kenny Golladay and Daniel Jones, but Dexter Lawrence's offsides penalty on Hopkins' first (missed) attempt cost them a win as well.  

For a team which felt it deserved a playoff spot despite winning six games a year ago, they aren't off to the best start on their redemption tour.