ABOVE PHOTO: Brandon Boykin’s four-quarter interception of Robert Griffith III preserves the Eagles 24-16 win over Washington.
(Photo by Webster Riddick)
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
The Eagles 24-16 win over the Washington Redskins Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field was a stark contrast to where this team was last season going into a bye-week.
Last year, the last game the Eagles played before their bye-week was a heartbreaking loss to the Detroit Lions who came back from a 10-point deficit in the last five minutes in regulation to win the game in overtime.
After the Eagles jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the third quarter on a one-yard run by LeSean McCoy, the Redskins made things interesting in the fourth period on a couple of Robert Griffin III touchdown passes and a pair of two-point conversions. With the offense unable to move the football in the final stanza, the Eagles defense needed to come up with one final stand to hold off the surging Redskins.
Washington drove from its own four-yard line down to the Eagles 18 with 40 seconds left. It looked like it was going to be another example of the Birds defense blowing a big lead in the fourth quarter.
But Eagles nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin saved the day with a drive-killing interception in the end zone that helped to preserve the win for the 6-5 Birds, who will head into the bye-week in sole possession of first-place in the NFC East. It was the Birds first win at home since Sept. 30, 2012 when they beat New York Giants on a late field goal.
“Everybody knew that someone had to step up and make it (a play,)” said middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. “There was no sense that we were going to let them get into the end zone. Everybody had that type of attitude that we were going to make a stop.”
In all honesty, the Eagles win over the Redskins was the type of game they would have lost last season. To their credit, they found a way to pull off a huge victory when it looked like they were about to fall apart.
“Really, how are you going to react when things don’t go exactly the way you planned?” asked Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. “That’s what I think I’m most proud of today, is how they reacted when it didn’t go our way, when they faced a bit of adversity, to kind of dig down deep and make a play when we had to make a play. That was a big sign for this team.”
Boykin, who remembers all too well how the Eagles defense had trouble closing out games last season, said the coaching staff under current defensive coordinator Billy Davis has done a good job of preparing them for late-game situations.
“It’s no panic, it’s not anything new to us. We practice this, so when you’re in a game situation, you treat it like practice,” Boykin said.
The Eagles also played well on defense in the other three quarters as well. For the sixth straight week, the Eagles have not allowed a team to score more than 21 points in a game. The Birds sacked RGIII four times including his fumble in the red zone after a hard hit by linebacker Connor Barwin. Linebacker Trent Cole also had a pair of sacks for the Eagles as well.
“They did a good job coming out in the beginning of the game and shutting down a lot of stuff that we were trying to do,” Griffin III said. “They were there where they needed to be; they were taking away the routes we were trying to run. That’s disheartening, but we have to make sure we come up with something to counteract that.”
Davis said his defense has progressed well since the first game of the season and especially since the loss to the Denver Broncos on Sept. 29.
“We know at the end when it gets all pressure-packed that you have to back to your fundamentals and your technique and your training,” Davis said. “This is what separates you.”
The Eagles scored their points on offense on a pair touchdown runs by LeSean McCoy and a four-yard run by quarterback Nick Foles. Alex Henery had a 24-yard field goal in the second quarter.