Today, the Eagles nearly blew a 24 point lead to the Washington Redskins en route to what would have been their 11th straight home loss. They let the Redskins hang around entirely too long before Brandon Boykin ended the comeback effort with an end-zone interception. It was an ugly fourth quarter, no doubt. Could the Eagles have made it easier, given that they dominated the ‘Skins throughout the first three quarters? Yes.
The fact of the matter is this: I would not go back and change anything. I’m elated that the Eagles won exactly the way they did.
It was beautiful to see Nick Foles and the offense come out clicking with 24 first-half points. It was also beautiful to watch the defense not only shut out Washington in the first half, but punish Robert Griffin III and completely dominate the game. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking about a possible shutout in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Griffin III scrambled left and found Darrel Young for a 62-yard touchdown. That was followed by a 2-point conversion to make it a two-possession game. No big deal right? The offense was sure to come back, eat some time off the clock, and maybe even add another score to put the game out of reach for good. Then Washington got the ball back and began to mount a drive until RGIII heaved a pass up into the end zone. Aldrick Robinson turned around to the ball a split second before cornerback Roc Carmichael did and made a spectacular catch for another touchdown. After another two-point conversion, it was now a 24-16 game and a lot of nervous fans at Lincoln Financial Field.
After Nick Foles was stopped short on a 3rd down run, Donnie Jones punted 70 yards to pin the Redskins inside their own 10. With a raucous home crowd and 93 yards to go, the Eagles defense seemed primed to put the game away, right? Not so fast. Washington drove ALL the way down the field and had many fans thinking about how to stop another two-point conversion or how to win in overtime. Then, with about 40 seconds left, the Eagles got pressure on RGIII, forced him to heave a pass into the end zone off his back foot, and Brandon Boykin came up with the game-saving interception.
And I would not have this win any other way.
The last two seasons, especially 2012, the Eagles would let opponents run up and down the field on them to the point where the defense would almost give up. The fans came to expect failure. Under Bill Davis this season, the Eagles have had their bumps in the road defensively. However, since Week 4, they have not allowed more than 21 points in a game and have come up with timely plays. This was a game for the defense to win, and they did. The great Andy Reid teams of the early 2000’s won games in the clutch and had players who rose to the occasion, especially defensively. The main reason I am happy the Eagles won the way they did is because it revealed this team’s character. This is becoming a group of winners, similar to the early Reid years.
A winning culture is being established. Players are rising up in key moments. The recent draft classes, especially the 2012 class, is forming a very strong nucleus that is going to be the core of this team going forward. Today, the team faced adversity late in a game and pulled through. Most of all, there is meaningful football for the fans and players to take part in during the latter stages of the season. This is so exciting, to watch this promising group of players come together.
Heading into the home stretch of the 2013 season, in large part because of wins like today, the Eagles are a team that is believing in one another. It sure is a nice change-up from the last two seasons. The team is all alone atop the NFC East and only getting better. Cruising to a 24-0 or 24-8 victory over the Redskins would have shown that the Eagles could get a lead, hold a team down, and win a big home game. Winning the way they did today revealed that there is a group of never-say-die players on this team who trust one another, who have fought and overcome adversity. Enjoy this win Eagles fans, we’re in for a fun December.