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The Redskins clinch NFC East title after beating Eagles 38-24

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The Redskins clinch NFC East title after beating Eagles 38-24

PHILADELPHIA— The Redskins overcame some mistakes and some periods of ineffectiveness, poured it on in the second half, and thumped the Eagles 38-24. The win wrapped up the NFC East title for Washington. The will host a playoff game on the weekend of January 9-10.

The Eagles jumped out to a 7-0 lead but it was all Redskins after that. They scored on touchdown passes from Cousins to Jordan Reed from 12 and 22 yards out and they never looked back.

Kirk Cousins completed 31 of 46 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns. Two of his touchdowns went to Reed and one each were to Chris Thompson and Pierre Garçon.

There were a few odd moments for the Redskins. After the Redskins’ first touchdown Dustin Hopkins missed his first extra point of the year. At the end of the first half, Cousins inexplicably took a knee with the Redskins on the Eagles four yard line, losing a chance for at least three points.

But the Redskins were able to overcome all of their errors and walk off with a win.

Key Play: The Redskins were desperately trying to get a working margin in the third quarter, leading 16-10. They embarked on a touchdown drive that included three third-down conversions. The last one was on third and six at the 12 and Cousins fired a dart to Chris Thompson in the end zone for the touchdown. The

Injury Update:

CB Will Blackmon left the game in the third quarter with a hip injury. He returned to the game.

WR DeSean Jackson left the game in the third quarter with cramps. He returned to the game.

CB Bashaud Breeland left the game in the fourth quarter with cramps.

Scoring drives:

First quarter

Mathews 1 run (Sturgis kick)

Drive: 6 plays, 80 yards, 2:52

Key plays: The Eagles got off to a quick start after taking the opening kickoff at their 20. On the first play from scrimmage Bradford found Nelson Agholor for 18 yards and then hit Zach Ertz for 16. They got a hand in the drive when Will Blackmon committed pass interference in the end zone, setting up first and goal at the one. Ryan Mathews powered in on the next play.

Eagles 7, Redskins o

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Reed 22 pass from Cousins (kick failed)

Drive: 5 plays, 69 yards, 2:45

Key plays: The drive got off to a quick start with Cousins going to Pierre Thomas for 13 yards and to Jordan Reed for 28 yards into Eagles territory at the 33. Then it was Cousins to DeSean Jackson for seven yards and a first down at the 22. On the next play, Cousins found Reed again wide open over the middle for 22 yards and the touchdown. Hopkins PAT, however, went wide left and the Redskins still trailed.

Eagles 7, Redskins 6

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Reed 12 pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 7 plays, 61 yards, 3:40

Key plays: The Redskins started in good field position at their own 39 after a punt and they moved in quickly for the score. They got into Eagles territory when Cousins hit Jackson over the middle for 15 yards to the Eagles 46. Then on third and five from the 31 it was Cousins to Reed for 19 yards to the 12. On the very next play the same two hooked up for the touchdown.

Redskins 13, Eagles 7

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Second quarter

FG Sturgis 34

Drive: 7 plays, 42 yards, 2:15

Key plays: This was another quick Eagles scoring drive with Bradford utilizing his tight ends. First he went to Zach Ertz for 17 yards and then to Brent Celek for another 17 to the 23. The drive stalled and the Eagles settled for three.

Redskins 13, Eagles 10

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FG Hopkins 28

Drive: 8 plays, 25 yards, 2:18

Key plays: The Redskins got possession after Bashaud Breeland forced a fumble and Dashon Goldson recovered and returned it to the Eagles 35. Alfred Morris ran for a couple of first downs. On third and goal at the 10, Cousins threw incomplete for Garçon in the end zone and Hopkins came in and booted the field goal.

Redskins 16, Eagles 10

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Third quarter

Thompson 12 pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 11 plays, 54 yards, 4:05

Key plays: The Redskins had good field position to start but it wasn’t an easy drive. Cousins had to convert a third and 10 with a pass over the middle to Pierre Garçon and then a third and 14 with a pass to Pierre Thomas. They needed one more third down. On third and six at the 12, Cousins fired to Thompson over the middle for the TD.

Redskins 23, Eagles 10

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Murray 4 run (Sturgis kick)

Drive: 6 plays, 52 yards, 2:11

Key plays: The Eagles got the ball at their own 48 after a 49-yard kickoff return. A couple of Demarco Murray runs got them a first down at the 27. Then Bradford went Zach Ertz for 16 yards to the 11. On third and three at the four, Murray went up the middle to the score.

Redskins 23, Eagles 17

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Hall 17 fumble return (Hopkins kick)

Drive: No drive

Key plays: On third and two, Bradford attempted to pitch out to Murray. The ball was juggled, fumbled, and Hall scooped it up and rolled into the end zone.

Redskins 30, Eagles 17

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Fourth quarter

Garçon 13 pass from Cousins (Cousins pass from Crowder)

Drive: 13 plays, 82 yards, 7:44

Key plays: The Redskins got things going on a 25-yard pass from Cousins to Ryan Grant. Then it became the Pierre Thomas show. He ran nine yards for a first down and then caught passes for nine and 14 yards for two more first downs. Then he went up the middle for nine. On third and goal at the 13, Cousins threw a nice fade to Pierre Garçon for 13 yards and the TD.

Redskins 38, Eagles 17

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Matthews 8 pass from Bradford (Sturgis kick)

Drive: 13 plays, 80 yards, 4:21

Key plays: The Eagles got a desperation drive going, converting two fourth downsa long the way. The final strike came from Bradford to Matthews, who just got over the goal line at the pylon for the score.

Redskins 38, Eagles 24

 

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The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list

Every offseason the NFL Network polls a number of current players to determine the Top 100 stars in the league.

It's a fun discussion topic during an otherwise slow time in the football calendar, and while the rankings carry no official meaning, it would be silly to dismiss the process altogether. After all, these are players voting for their fellow players. 

Over the last few seasons, the Redskins have seen a various number of their players make the list. Trent Williams is a mainstay, Jordan Reed made an appearance, and while he was playing in Washington, QB Kirk Cousins made the list. 

For example, in 2017, Cousins ranked 70th on the NFL Top 100. That same season, while quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, Smith came in at 81 on the list. 

Now Redskins QB, there is a bit of a mystery surrounding Smith.

The NFL has revealed numbers 100 to 11, and Smith hasn't made the list. Cousins, now a Viking, landed 94th, the first QB on the list.

Another 10 QBs have been named to the Top 100: Jimmy Garoppolo (90), Derek Carr (60), Philip Rivers (56), Case Keenum (51), Deshaun Watson (50), Jared Goff (38), Matt Stafford (31), Matt Ryan (29), Ben Roethlisberger (18) and Russell Wilson (11).

Smith had the best statistical season of his career in 2017, and he led the NFL in passer rating. He certainly belongs higher on the Top 100 than a number of the quarterbacks listed above, particularly young players without his track record of success like Keenum, Watson or Goff. 

But does Smith deserve a Top 10 ranking in the NFL?

For Smith to make the list, it will mean a Top 10 ranking. Consider too that Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz have not yet landed on the Top 100. All four of those players seem like locks for the Top 10, which will be revealed next Monday night on NFL Network. 

It might seem surprising for Smith to land in the Top 10 of the NFL Top 100, but it would make zero sense for him to be left off the list altogether. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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Need to Know: Redskins QB Alex Smith understands that expectations will be high immediately

Need to Know: Redskins QB Alex Smith understands that expectations will be high immediately

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, June 20, 36 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Emptying the notebook from the offseason practices

—Last week I wrote that Gruden expects Alex Smith to be ready to win in Week 1. Smith understands those expectations and plans to meet them. “No, I don’t think you can rely on the fact that, ‘Oh, it’s the first year here.’ Nobody cares,” he said when asked about his transition into the new offense. “It’s not like in the fall, you guys are going to be like, ‘Ah, well, this is his first year here. We’ll give him a break.’ It just doesn’t work that way.” Of course, Smith is right. If the Redskins are 1-3 in October, nobody is going to cut them any slack if their veteran quarterback who got a contract with $71 million guaranteed is struggling with the new offense. 

—I didn’t count reps during the practices that were open to the media, but it seemed that they were giving DL Jonathan Allen a light workload. “I think he did a great job of rehabbing in the offseason,” said defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. “We were kind of a little bit hesitant early on when he was here just taking reps and stuff but looks like he’s just keeps on progressing from where he kind of left off last year and the sky’s the limit for him.” The Redskins essentially will be adding two first-round picks to their D-line with Allen’s return and the addition of Daron Payne in the first round this year. I would look for Allen to get a full workload when training camp starts. 

—There are questions about Kevin Hogan making the 53-man roster as the third quarterback. Jay Gruden had some rather tepid praise for him last week. “He’s done good,” he said. “I like Kevin. He’s a smart kid and he’s got some deceiving escape ability to him. He can run a little bit. We saw one today, he popped out of there for about a 20-yard gain. I like where he’s at.” But near the end of that practice, Hogan threw a red zone pass right into the arms of rookie CB Greg Stroman. If we see much more of that, the Redskins may keep a sixth wide receiver or tenth offensive lineman rather than a third quarterback. 

—When he is asked about the performance of undrafted rookies, Gruden usually declines to praise specific players so when he does pick out individuals it’s worth paying some attention. On Wednesday he said that WR Cam Simms and CB Danny Johnson “stood out” at their respective positions. Looking at it right now, there don’t appear to be roster spots available for either of them. But one or two undrafted players break through and make the roster every year and Simms and Johnson are two to watch. 

— “In the second year, we expect major strides for all first-year guys. I’ve said it before. So just understanding pro football, what it’s all about in your first year, you have the four preseason games and 16 regular season games,” Gruden said when asked about RB Samaje Perine. “It’s a grind, mentally. It’s all-day football, not like college where you only get 20 hours a week, so I think he understands the grind and our system a lot better.” The answer obviously applies to all of the 2017 draft picks. In particular, they will be counting on next steps from OLB Ryan Anderson, CB Fabian Moreau, WR Robert Davis, and CB Joshua Holsey. History tells us that some will take big steps, others will not.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Timeline  

Former Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington was born on this date in 1978.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 36
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 50
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 73

The Redskins last played a game 171 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 81 days. 

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