PHILADELPHIA—It’s kind of like a quarterback being called a “game manager”. No defense likes the term “bend but don’t break”.
But that shoe fit the Redskins against the Eagles on Sunday and they will be happy to wear it as it led to a 27-22 win.
The Eagles outgained the Redskins 383 yards to 334. Rookie Carson Wentz was operating the short passing game like a veteran, completing 32 of 46 passes for 314 yards. Ryan Matthews was efficient, running for 60 yards.
But the Eagles got the ball into the end zone against the Redskins just once. The defense had the knack for tightening up at just the right time to force the Eagles to settle for field goals.
Or for nothing.
Philadelphia’s second possession made it all the way down to the three yard line before safety Deshazor Everett, who had played only on special teams until this game, picked off a Wentz pass in the end zone. That marked the first time that the Redskins had stopped a team from scoring a touchdown after it had attained a first and goal since Week 3.
They tightened up in the second half, holding the Eagles to just a field goal (Philly’s touchdown came on an interception return for a touchdown). But it got frightening in the late going after the Redskins scored to take a 27-22 lead with just under two minutes left.
The touchdown was a great moment but the finish by the defense was more like a horror movie sequel; call it Scary Movie IV.
The defense started bend and then bend some more. They gave ground all the way to where the Eagles had a first and 10 at the Washington 14 with about 30 seconds left.
It was the fourth time this year that an opponent has had the ball in Redskins territory in the last two minutes down by more than three points but by less than a touchdown. Previously they had held on against the Ravens and Vikings but they broke and lost against the Lions.
“We have been tested in every area that should be tested in situational football,” defensive end Chris Baker said. “I think this game helped us and let us realize that no matter the situation, if we continue to stick together we can find a way to make the play and win the game.”
This was one of the happy endings. Ryan Kerrigan got a sack and strip of Wentz and Trent Murphy picked it up to secure the win.
“It helps that we’ve had a couple, that they know how to react and how to respond,” said Jay Gruden of the hair-raising finishes. “It’s just guys stepping up and making plays and not blinking. It was great. It was a great game.”
Another 14 yards for the Eagles and would not have been so great as far as Gruden is concerned. But the defense came through when it had to and they will gladly take a road division win however they can get it.