All week long, Ron Rivera put a heavy emphasis on how the Washington Football Team would respond after losing by 42 last Sunday to the Cowboys.
The club’s performance against the Eagles, to the home side’s credit, featured a far better effort. Unfortunately, that far better effort still resulted in a loss to a division rival.
And thanks to the loss, Washington is officially eliminated from playoff contention and will fail to advance beyond the regular season for the fifth time out of its last six campaigns.
As was the case in Washington’s last couple of appearances, the depth chart was quite shuffled. Antonio Gibson, Montez Sweat, Ereck Flowers Sr., Tress Way, Sam Cosmi and William Jackson III were all missing, as were players already on injured reserve such as Landon Collins and JD McKissic.
But as was the case last time Washington faced Philadelphia, Rivera’s squad jumped out to an early 10-0 advantage and entered halftime up 16-7 despite its limited roster. Gibson’s replacement, Jaret Patterson, visited the end zone on the opening possession of the contest while Taylor Heinicke was in control at quarterback.
Philly asserted itself in the third quarter, however, swooping down the field for a seven-and-a-half minute drive that concluded with a Boston Scott touchdown on fourth down. Scott scored earlier in the afternoon, too, also on a fourth down.
A couple of Jake Elliott field goals put the Eagles ahead for good from there. An unlucky Heinicke interception erased Washington’s final chance to win it late.
It was very important to Rivera that his team come out and prove that the Dallas disaster wasn’t indicative of the franchise’s direction, but rather just the end of an exhausting stretch that featured endless off-field drama. Overall, Sunday probably comes out as a wash.
Yes, Washington was competitive and even had the opportunity to steal a victory late versus an opponent who was battling for the postseason. To call that an improvement over what took place seven days ago would be the under-est understatement of all time.
Yet at the same time, FedEx Field’s residents just didn’t have enough difference-makers or depth to overcome the obstacles and foe in front of them.
So, Rivera’s second year at the helm of the franchise will finish with more losses than his debut go-round. One can argue here or there whether the organization’s making progress under the coach, but that fact right there is a pretty simple counter to any sort of real optimism regarding the rebuild.