You can’t tell the story of the Redskins’ win over the Eagles without talking about that clutch fourth-quarter possession. No, not the one that everybody is talking about, the 90-yard, 15-play offensive march that ended with Kirk Cousins throwing the four-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon with 26 seconds left.
I’m talking about the drive before that one, with the Eagles in possession of the ball. Philly was up 20-16 and had the ball at midfield after Darren Sproles’ fair catch of a punt. The clock read 7:32. All the Eagles really needed to do was burn some clock. A field goal that would have made a Redskins touchdown only tie the game would have been a bonus. The Redskins needed a stop, preferably a three and out.
On first down, DeMarco Murray took a handoff and headed up the middle. Safety Trenton Robinson shot into the backfield and made Murray change direction slightly. He ran straight into linebacker Preston Smith, who made the stop after a gain of three yards.
The Eagles then helped out the Redskins by doing what they do. They went out with no huddle and snapped the ball after just 25 seconds had been burned off of the 40-second play clock. If you want to go no-huddle at that time, great, but there would be something to be said for standing at the line and waiting until the play clocked ticks under 5 seconds before putting the ball into play.
On the play, Sproles was lined up in the slot on the right and then went in motion towards quarterback Sam Bradford, who was lined up in shotgun formation. Sproles took the handoff for a sort of jet sweep. But Robinson was there again, taking on two blockers to prevent Sproles from getting outside. That forced the runner right into the arms of linebacker Will Compton, who made the tackle after a gain of two.
On third down, the Eagles did burn off some more clock, waiting 33 seconds to snap the ball. Bradford looked to pass and went to slot receiver Jordan Matthews about 7 yards downfield. Matthews turned around and had Bradford’s pass for a moment until Kyshoen Jarrett, a rookie safety turned slot corner, reached around and knocked the ball out. Matthews wanted a flag but all Jarrett did was play some solid pass defense.
The Eagles punted, the Redskins took possession at the 10 with 6:02 left, plenty of time to use their entire playbook during the drive that everyone is talking about today. But that drive may not happen if the defense doesn’t do its job.