In Week 3 of this young NFL season, Eagles fans were treated with one of the most memorable regular season contests in recent history, as the Birds fought back against the Redskins, the officials and a bevy of injuries to ruin the return of DeSean Jackson at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday.
Once again trailing by double-digits in the first half, the Eagles offense was dynamic and the defense held on just enough in a 37-34 win against Washington, moving them to 3-0.
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“It was a fight,” quarterback Nick Foles said, “literally there were fights during the game. It was a hard fought game and I am glad we ended up on top.”
In an exceptionally raw game emotionally from both sides, one that saw Jason Peters and Chris Baker kicked out of the game, Nick Foles threw a 27-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter to break a 27-27 deadlock.
“I think Nick just stood in there today,” Kelly said. “He is a tough sucker, he got hit a lot today. It’s a victory, it’s a division victory, we’ll take it.”
Not long after the touchdown, Malcom Jenkins pulled in an interception that gave the Eagles the opportunity to make it a two-possession game on a 51-yard Cody Parkey field goal.
It would be a meaningful three points, as the Redskins marched down the field minutes later to cut the lead to 37-34. The Eagles went 3-and-out with the ball but the defense stood tall on fourth down to clinch the ‘W.’
“Its’ the way we train,” Jeknins said of the defense’s late heroics. “What we are built for it’s the second half, guys are cool-headed, calm, we talk about stuff on the sideline, it's a good quality to have.”
It was their pace of play, their long list of potent offensive weapons and some costly Washington penalties that helped the Birds make history becoming the first team ever to go 3-0 while allowing 17 first half points in each first half.
The former Eagles pro bowler Jackson made his presence felt with a game-tying 81-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter. But his “replacement,” second round draft pick Jordan Matthews led a wide receiving corps that made Nick Foles (28-42, 325 yards) look pretty good.
Matthews had his first two NFL touchdown catches making him the fourth Birds rookie to catch two in a game and first since Jeremy Maclin in 2009.
“Sometimes they played zone sometimes they played man,” Chip Kelly said of the Redskins defense. “They took away the run game so we had to make them pay for the error and we did.”
The Eagles picked up just 54 yards on the ground, but made up through it in the air.
Sparks flew early between the division foes, as Nate Allen was called for a cheap shot on Jackson and a play later Pierre Garcon was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Kirk Cousins was perfect on the drive completing all seven of his passes, including a 4-yard touchdown toss to Darrell Young to give Washington a 7-0 lead at the 8:42 mark.
The score was tied just 13 seconds later when Chris Polk, in his first game action this season returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards.
The Eagles defense was unable to do any better on their next attempt against the Redskins, allowing a 12-play, 87 yard drive (ending in a Garcon touchdown reception) to give the Redskins the lead once again as the first quarter wound down.
The next drive for the Eagles resulted on a turnover. Darren Sproles fumbled on a 20-yard rush and the Redskins recovered. But Philadelphia finally stepped up on defense, making its first third down stop in seven tries. Washington was able to add a 49-yard field goal to pad their lead, 17-7 midway through the second.
A Maclin screen pass that went for a touchdown was called back due to a block in the back to start the Eagles’ next drive, but it didn’t matter, as Foles threw Matthews his first career touchdown pass.
Washington’s next drive netted them a field goal, extending their lead to 20-14.
The Birds would finally end a first half with the lead, with a second Foles-to-Matthews strike with nine seconds left giving Philly a 21-20 lead after 30 minutes.
“Our whole motto is one down one to go,” Kelly said of the win. “We are fortunate to be 3-0.”