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Redskins win over Eagles came down to two pivotal passes

Redskins win over Eagles came down to two pivotal passes

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.

More Redskins: FIVE OBSERVATIONS FROM THE REDSKINS' NARROW WIN OVER THE EAGLES

“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

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Redskins technically have nothing left to play for, but Dwayne Haskins sure does

Redskins technically have nothing left to play for, but Dwayne Haskins sure does

In five starts as a rookie, Dwayne Haskins has led the Redskins to two wins, displayed plenty of toughness and made a handful of throws that hint at his immense talent.

Even considering those factors, though, Haskins hasn't done enough to convince the franchise that he should absolutely, without a doubt, 110-percent be their starting quarterback in Week 1 of the 2020 season.

That means that, while Washington as a whole doesn't technically have anything left to play for this year — their Week 14 loss in Green Bay officially (and mercifully?) took them out of the playoff hunt — Haskins has a ton riding on the final three games on the schedule.

In all likelihood, the Burgundy and Gold will be searching for a new head coach in a few weeks. Perhaps they'll also enter the offseason with an adjusted front office. Yet, regardless of whether the latter happens, the former means that at least one major piece of the team's future won't have any direct ties to 2019's 15th overall draft pick.

You can debate whether moving on from a first-rounder after a small sample of starts is fair, but the reality in the NFL is that new coaches like to begin their tenure with QBs that they really like, and often times, that means QBs that they've drafted.

Now, as mentioned earlier, Haskins has shown off some useful traits. His arm strength will never be debated, and since taking over as the Redskins' signal caller, the rookie has also been brave in the pocket, been way more mobile than expected and made incremental improvements in areas like footwork and at-the-line audibles.

No. 7 has tools to work with, and those tools could become sharper with more time and with a new coach who wants to sharpen them. Plus, those tools very well could be put to better use with a more well-rounded roster than the one he's currently on.

But then there are his numbers, which aren't encouraging and must be considered, regardless of the talent around him. In his five starts, he's completed more than 60-percent of his passes just once and has topped 200 passing yards just once. Those are two basic benchmarks for pro passers to reach and he's just not reaching them.

So, if the Redskins finish with a 3-13 or 4-12 record and find themselves in a position where they can draft another top-notch arm, will they do so? 

That's a question that's difficult to answer as of now. Haskins' performance in Weeks 15, 16 and 17, however, will make it easier. Either he'll start delivering, thus giving the organization confidence in him, or he'll continue to be mediocre, which'll lead to a very intriguing offseason.

When the Redskins selected Haskins last April, they hoped their recent QB rotation would finally stop, and it very well still could. Yet there's also a possibility that the rotation begins again in a few months. The next 12 quarters of football will mean nothing in the standings, but everything for Haskins and the team that picked him.

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Terry McLaurin was not surprised a hobbled Dwayne Haskins stayed in vs. Green Bay

Terry McLaurin was not surprised a hobbled Dwayne Haskins stayed in vs. Green Bay

Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins played much of the Redskins Week 14 loss to the Green Bay Packers with a sprained ankle.

The rookie had a very noticeable limp and struggled to put weight on his bad leg. Haskins was clearly not at full health. Backup quarterback Case Keenum was seen warming up multiple times on the sideline, but never entered the game.

In the team's postgame press conference, interim head coach Bill Callahan said he never considered pulling Haskins from the game. Rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who was teammates with Haskins at Ohio State and has known the quarterback for a while, never thought that Haskins would exit the game, either.

"I know Dwayne. I've known him for a while now," McLaurin told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. "He's a tough guy, and I feel like he gives us a good chance to win games. I knew if he was out there, he was going to be good to go. He was hobbled a little bit, but he wasn't going to use that as an excuse at all. It was cool to see him fight through it. We just hope that he can get healthy for next week."

McLaurin was then asked whether he thought Haskins should have been pulled. The wideout commended his quarterback for his toughness, and believes that will go a long way in terms of earning respect from his teammates.

"I mean, I'm not a doctor, so I feel like if you feel like you can play, then you try to play. Only that person knows how bad it is," McLaurin said. "He's a tough guy. He's a guy trying to earn the respect of this team. He's a quarterback, he's young. I feel like stuff like that really puts you in a step forward to get some respect. He was noticeably hurt and he fought for us."

Haskins finished 16-for-27 for 171 yards. He connected on an incredible late touchdown pass with McLaurin to pull the Redskins within five with just over a minute remaining in the game. On the two-point conversion try, Haskins put his body on the line, diving for the goal line headfirst. He didn't convert.

The Packers recovered the Redskins ensuing onside kick attempt, the Burgundy and Gold's final hope at pulling off the upset. 

The Redskins offensive line did not help out a hobbled Haskins much either. The rookie was sacked four times in the loss and hit the turf on numerous other occasions.

Although the Redskins weren't able to pull off the upset, Haskins showed poise and toughness by fighting through a noticeable injury and giving the Redskins everything he had.

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