PHILADELPHIA—There are a lot of plays that might determine the outcome of a football game. But you can make a pretty good case that the Redskins’ win over the Eagles would not have happened if not for two pass plays, one long, one short.
The long one came in the third quarter. Late in the second period the Redskins drove for a touchdown to take a 7-6 lead but Philadelphia came right back and scored a TD just before halftime to take a 13-7 lead into the locker room. On the Redskins’ second possession of the half they had second and nine at their own 20. Kirk Cousins dropped back and launched one deep for DeSean Jackson.
“We got just the coverage we wanted,” said Cousins. “It was a great call by Sean [McVay] to give us that play against that coverage.”
It worked just like it was drawn up by the McVay. Jackson got a few steps on his defender, Cousins threw the pass, and, after an adjustment to the ball in the air, Jackson was able to haul it in and complete the 80-yard touchdown play.
“He has a few elite traits and one of them is his ability to track the ball in the air,” said Cousins. “If it’s not an easy catch he can go find it and track the ball better than most receivers and certainly better than most defensive backs.”
Now in five games against his former team, Jackson has three with over 100 yards receiving and touchdown receptions of 80 and 81 yards.
“I wish I could do it every game if you ask me,” said Jackson when asked if he got particular pleasure out of playing well against the team that employed him from 2008-2013. “I’ve just been fortunate that I’ve been able to come back and make some big plays against my former team but regardless of who it is I enjoy doing it.”
Jackson’s long catch would have been an interesting stat line in a loss if the Redskins had not connected on another, much shorter pass with time running out in the fourth quarter. The Redskins were down by two and facing fourth and one at the Eagles 35 with three minutes left. They called timeout to make sure they had the right play in.
Cousins dropped back and fired to Pierre Garçon to his right. The receiver got between cornerback Leodis McKelvin and the ball and secured the catch for the critical first down.
“It was a big play because if we don’t get it we lose the game,” said Cousins. “I think the other point is that Pierre does a great job winning versus man coverage . . . He had a tough job there but he did it and made a great catch and we were able to move the chains.”
Had they failed to get the first down the Eagles would have been able to run some clock. If the Redskins had gotten the ball back it likely would have been far from the goal line with very little time remaining. As it was, two plays later Chris Thompson scored the winning touchdown on a 25-yard run.
“He’s so strong, even if the cornerback is on him he has a great ability to come back to the quarterback and use his body and his strong hands to make those tough catches,” said Gruden.
A loss would not have killed the Redskins’ chances of making the playoffs but it would have put a severe damper on them. They remain legitimate playoff contenders, thanks to one long pass and one short one.
Gallery: NFL WEEK 14: REDSKINS 27, EAGLES 22