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Redskins keep playoff hopes alive as they eke out win over Eagles

Redskins keep playoff hopes alive as they eke out win over Eagles

PHILADELPHIA— The Redskins can’t do anything the easy way. They went into Lincoln Financial Field, fell behind early, got a rally together and took the lead. But Kirk Cousins threw a pick six in the fourth quarter and things got interesting.

But they were able to hang on and escape Lincoln Financial Field with a 27-22 win that keeps them squarely in the middle of the NFC playoff picture. The winning score came on a 25-yard Chris Thompson touchdown run with 1:53 left.

The key plays were an 80-yard touchdown bomb from Cousins to DeSean Jackson and a botched snap on an Eagles field goal attempt that set up another Redskins touchdown. Those scores turned a 13-7 deficit into a 21-13 lead late in the third quarter.

[MORE: Cousins sets new franchise passing mark]

But then Cousins threw a sideline pass that Leodis McKelvin picked off and returned 29 yards. It was a two-point game after the two-point pass fell incomplete.

The Eagles, however, got the ball back and drove for a field goal that put them up by a point.

It was the Redskins’ turned to respond. A 33-yard pass from Cousins to Jamison Crowder was called incomplete but a successful replay challenge overturned it. A few plays later it was fourth and one and Cousins picked it up with a six-yard pass to the 29. Two plays later Cousins pitched to Chris Thompson and he picked his way through the defense for 25 yards and a touchdown.

The Eagles had a last chance to take the win with a late drive. They moved into Washington territory at the 14 but Ryan Kerrigan saved the day with a sack and strip of Wentz. Trent Murphy recovered and the Redskins just had to kneel down once.

The Redskins are 7-5-1 and they host the Panthers next Monday night.

Injury Updates:

LB Su’a Cravens left the game in the first quarter with a bicep injury; his return was listed as questionable. He did not return to the game.

ILB Will Compton left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury, he was announced as out for the game.

RB Mack Brown left the game in the third quarter with a concussion.

Scoring drives:  

First quarter           

FG Sturgis 45

Drive: 10 plays, 46 yards, 5:14

Drive summary: The Eagles took the opening kickoff and moved right in for the score. A pass from Carson Wentz to Zach Ertz picked up 13 yards and then Wentz converted a third and six on a 10-yard pass to Jordan Matthews. They worked their way down to a third and three the 27 before  then Ryan Kerrigan pressured Wentz into an incompletions. Sturgis came in a kicked the field goal.

Eagles 3, Redskins 0 9:46

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Second quarter

FG Sturgis 36

Drive: 10 plays, 53 yards, 5:36

Drive summary: The Eagles got the ball after a missed Dustin Hopkins field goal. The eked out a first down with a two-yard gain on third and two and then Wentz launched a 29-yard strike to Zach Ertz for a first down at the Washington 32. The Eagles were lined up to go for it on fourth and three but after a false start Sturgis came on the field and kicked the tree-pointer.

Eagles 6, Redskins 0

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Kelley 22 run (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 10 plays, 69 yards, 6:18

Drive summary: The Redskins finally scratched the scoreboard with a second-quarter drive. Cousins got the initial first down with a one-yard run on an option play then he passed to Rob Kelley for 11 and to Jordan Reed for 10. Kelley converted a third and one with a five-yard run and then on the next play he popped a 22-yard run off of left tackle into the end zone.

Redskins 7, Eagles 6 4:11

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Sproles 4 pass from Wentz (Sturgis kick)

Drive: 12 plays, 77 yards, 3:43

Drive summary: The Eagles answered the Redskins’ score with a late drive. Wentz went to Jordan Matthews for 14 and then he converted a third and nine with a 16-yard pass to Trey Burton. That put them in Redskins territory at the 43. On third and three at the 36 Wentz threw to Paul Turner for 16 yards. A third-down pass to Burton set up a first and goal at the four. On the next play Wentz threw to Darren Sproles for the touchdown.

Eagles 13, Redskins 7

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Third quarter

Jackson 80 pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 2 plays, 81 yards, 0:43

Drive summary: On the second play of their drive Cousins launched a deep pass to DeSean Jackson. Like few others can he tracked the ball down shook the defender, and ran the last 30 yards into the end zone.

Redskins 14, Eagles 13 9:14

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Cousins 15 pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 6 plays, 54 yards, 3:14

Drive summary: The Redskins got good field position after the Eagles botched a field goal snap. Starting from their own 46, Cousins went to DeSean Jackson for 21 yards. The receiver made a tiptoe catch on the sideline and the catch survived replay review. Then it was Rob Kelley catching a pass for 14 and then running for 10 for first and goal at the nine. A penalty pushed them back but on second down at the 15 Cousins lofted a pass to Garçon in the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown.

Redskins 21, Eagles 13

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Fourth quarter

McKelvin 29 interception return (pass failed)

Drive: --

Drive summary: Kirk Cousins tried to go to DeSean Jackson on the sideline but McKelvin jumped the route and streaked down the sideline for 29 yards and the touchdown

Redskins 21, Eagles 19

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Cousins 1 run (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 11 plays, 37 yards, 6:28

Drive summary: The Eagles got a jump-start on their drive thanks to a personal foul penalty on Deshazor Everett that set up the start of the drive at their own 40. They converted a third and seven on a 14-yard pass from Wentz to Ertz and then Wentz snuck to pick up a fourth and one. They faced another fourth and one at the 24 and this time they kicked the go-ahead field goal with just under five minutes left.

Eagles 22, Redskins 21 4:59

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Thompson 25 run (pass failed)

Drive: 8 plays, 77 yards, 3:06

Drive summary: The Redskins responded to the Eagles’ score. It started with what was originally called an incomplete pass but replay overturned it and it turned into a 33-yard pass from Cousins to Crowder. A few plays later it was fourth and one at the 35. They picked it up with Cousins to Garçon for six yards. Two plays later Cousins pitched to Chris Thompson and he picked his way through the defense for 25 yards and a touchdown.

Redskins 27, Eagles 22

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Gallery: NFL WEEK 14: REDSKINS 27, EAGLES 22​ 

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Alex Smith at Redskins practice working with Dwayne Haskins (VIDEO)

Alex Smith at Redskins practice working with Dwayne Haskins (VIDEO)

Monday marked the one-year anniversary of Alex Smith's greusome leg injury, and in the 12 months since, the veteran quarterback has made tremendous strides. He's also become a helpful force for rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

On Wednesday, Haskins explained that he meets with Smith nearly every day and that he's "been a really great voice" as the rookie tries to learn how to handle the on-field and off-field demands of life in the NFL.

"I realy appreciate since him since he's been here with me trying to help me," Haskins said of Smith. 

When the Redskins players got on the practice field Wednesday, some of that relationship was on display. Smith worked with Haskins, and the other Redskins quarterbacks Colt McCoy and Case Keenum, going through individual drills.

It's important to note that next season Haskins and Smith are the only quarterbacks under contract with the Redskins. While it's far from a certainty Smith can get back on the field, he's obviously working hard towards that goal. It's a good thing both players are close, because next summer, they also could be competing. 

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Rushing to judgment on Dwayne Haskins? Maybe these numbers will change your mind

Rushing to judgment on Dwayne Haskins? Maybe these numbers will change your mind

Dwayne Haskins has thrown 57 passes in his first two NFL starts, and while everyone — from Dwayne to his coaches to his teammates to Redskins fans — would've liked those attempts to have generated more production and success, it's necessary to keep that number in mind.

Again: He's thrown just 57 passes as a starter in the NFL.

Despite that miniscule amount, some are rushing to judgment about the rookie's long-term future in the league. It's more than fine to look at what he's done through two starts and closely analyze it and even criticize some of it, but it's far too early to say definitively what he will become as a pro.

(Note: His appearances against the Giants and Vikings aren't being taken into consideration in this story, due to him coming into both contests while trailing and without a full week of reps with the first-stringers. He struggled in New York and Minnesota, but he was put in spots where struggles were almost certain.)

To put it simply: His past two efforts, while discouraging, don't mean he's a completely doomed passer who should start considering other careers. And to emphasize that fact, here's an exercise.

Let's put the stat lines from a few quarterbacks' first two starts next to each other, but withhold their names. For example, check out what this pair of signal callers did in their first and second times out as the No. 1 option: 

  • QB A - 34-of-52 (65.3-percent completion rate), 466 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs
  • QB B - 34-of-67 (50.7-percent completion rate), 357 yards, 1 TD, 5 INTs

QB A is a baller while QB B is a scrub, right? Not exactly. QB A is Marcus Mariota. QB B is Matthew Stafford. Mariota is currently sitting behind Ryan Tannehill and almost surely won't be a Titan in 2020, while Stafford has been entrenched in Detroit since 2009.

Here's another comparsion: 

  • QB A - 45-of-66 (68.1-percent completion rate), 446 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
  • QB B - 22-of-46 (47.8-percent completion rate), 319 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs

Look at that 20-plus percent difference in completion percentage between QB A and QB B, plus the large edge the former has over the latter in yardage. Well, QB A is EJ Manuel and QB B is Matt Ryan. Yep.

The point of this story is setting in by now, but here's one more side-by-side: 

  • QB A - 34-of-57 (59.6-percent completion rate), 358 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT 
  • QB B - 43-of-76 (56.6-percent completion rate), 533 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs 

QB A doesn't come close to matching QB B's yardage output, but he does have a slightly better (though still not ideal) completion percentage and two fewer picks. Turns out, QB A is actually Dwayne Haskins while QB B is Andrew Luck. If there were any folks in Indy ready to call Luck a bust through two starts, they surely now realize how foolish they were being then.

Of course, there have been young players — like Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes — who looked like stars the minute they took over. Unfortunately, Haskins doesn't find himself on that immediate path.

Also, while it'd be unfair for the Redskins to make a decision on whether Haskins is the answer after he's started twice, the reality is he may only get six more chances. Washington is going to have a premium draft pick next April and could choose another highly touted arm. It doesn't need to settle on how it feels about Haskins yet, but that date could be coming somewhat soon, meaning he must improve quickly.

Regardless, those who want to grade Haskins and evaluate him right now absolutely can, but those who want to call it one way or the other need to stop. As the above numbers show, if two starts was the be-all and end-all for pro passers, Marcus Mariota would be a legend while Matt Ryan would be selling insurance.

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