Any shed of optimism surrounding Chip Kelly and the 2015 Eagles was mauled by a hungry and, well, slightly more resilient Redskins team Saturday night, as Washington handed the Birds a 38-24season-ending setback.
For a team that had been so terribly inconsistentall season long, the Week 16 drubbing was the team’s season in a nutshell.
For every big play there was a bigger mistake. For every dodged bullet there were two missed opportunities.
And as the bleeding green faithful filed quietlyout of what was a rocking Lincoln Financial Field just two hours earlier, fans are left wondering what to think of aheadline-riddled, jarring NFL season in South Philadelphia.
As fans and the Eagles’ front office begin to pick up the pieces, here are three of the main reasons why DeSean Jackson and the Skins bounced the Birds from playoff contention for the second straight year.
Sam Bradford (who was solid going 37-for-55 for 380 yards and a touchdown)missed a huge opportunity early in the second quarter when he overthrew a completely wide open Zach Ertz down the sideline on what would have been a sure touchdown.
Nelson Agholor was the culprit on the next drive as the wideout dropped a potential touchdown pass that hit im right in the hands. The Birds would settle to a field goal to cut Washington’s lead to 13-10.
The two plays could have given Philly a sizable advantage, but instead left the Eagles looking to their defense to step up (it never trulydid).
Yet another misstep plagued the Eagles in the fateful second, with Zach Ertz fumbling at midfield as Philly looked to take back the lead after a triumphant defensive stand with Washington against its own end zone. They did dodge a bullet holding the Skins to a field goal (and a 16-10 halftime advantage).
Also dropping key passes for the Eagles, Malcolm Jenkins and Jaylen Watkins on possible game-changing interceptions, and Riley Cooper, who failed to hail in a diving grab at midfield early in the third quarter that would have propelled the Eagles down the field.
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Wasted new life
The Redskins looked poised to kick a field goal and up their lead to nine points (two possessions) while expecting the ball back to start the second half. But with Cousins at the line of scrimmage trying to draw the Eagles offsides, the QB took a knee to end the half even though Washington was positioned at the six-yardline.
The Birds gave up a touchdown in the second to go down 23-10 before a lightning fast six-play drive got DeMarco Murray back in the end zone and Philly down by six again.
Just as quickly, it seems, as the Eagles looked to be alive and kicking Murray fumbled a key third-down pitch that Washington’s DeAngelo Hall returned to a touchdown — essentially handing the Redskins an NFC East title. They would tack on another TD to up their lead to 38-17.
What happened to the defense?
After the first half of the season had the Eagles’ defense looking thoroughly improved, the unit has been on a downward spiral and after Sunday’s game has allowed 34touchdown passes this season (tying their worst of 33 allowed in 2012).
The Eagles’ defense looked it’s drearily soft self, missing several tackles and letting Kirk Cousins navigate an answer on a 22-yard Jordan Reed touchdown catch (the Eagles caught a break with a missed PAT, putting Philly up 7-6).
After a three-and-out, unable to get off the field on third down, Philly relented more points, giving Washington the lead on yet another Reed crossing route, 13-7 after one quarter of play.
In the second half it was more of the same. Though they did hold the Redskins a handful of times defensively, the ‘D’ relented a few big third downs on Washington’s 11-yard 55-play scoring drive midway through the third to extend their lead to 23-10 (on a Chris Thompson TD grab).
In all, Philly’s futile defense surrendered 421 yards and 38points to the Redskins.