The Philadelphia Eagles scored 17 points against the team formerly known as the Washington Redskins in the first half. Then, it stopped.
By Chris Murray
For the Philadelphia Sunday S
LANDOVER, Md.—In the first half of the Philadelphia Eagles season
–opener against the Washington Football Team, they jumped out to a 17-0 lead on a pair of Carson Wentz touchdown passes despite the offensive line giving up three early sacks.
It looked like the Eagles were going to make quick work of Washington.
But the pressure of Washington defense began taking its toll on the Birds beleaguered offensive line late in the first half when they pressured
Carson Wentz into throwing an interception deep in Eagles territory which led to Washington’s first touchdown of the game.
The Birds offense never recovered and did not score for the remainder of the game. It was all Washington as the team with no name came away with a shocking 27-17 win over the Eagles in an empty Fed-Ex Field due to COVID 19 restrictions.
“It was very frustrating to walk off that field knowing the momentum and how we felt early in the game, getting up early after a great start. It just spiraled out of control,” Wentz said. “The next thing you know we were in second and 15 multiple drives in a row. We couldn’t get ahead of the chains and make plays. Turned the ball over. It was definitely frustrating walking off that field.”
Washington finished the game with eight sacks. After completing 14
–of –his first 18 passes, Wentz ended up completing 24-of-42 passes for 270 yards with two touchdown passes and those two costly interceptions –which led to 14 Washington points. Washington also stopped the Birds on a pair of fourth-down conversions.
Trailing 24-17 with under five minutes left in the game, the Birds faced a fourth and 3 at their own 42, Wentz found a wide-open Zach Ertz beyond the first down marker, but the All-Pro tight end dropped an easy pass to end any hope of an Eagles comeback.
Throughout the week leading up to the game, there was uncertainty about who was going to start at both the right guard and right tackle spots. When Jason Peters moved back to his familiar left tackle spot from right guard, it was widely speculated that either Matt Pryor, Nate Herbig, or Jack Driscoll would be at the spot.
That situation was complicated even further when injured right tackle Lane Johnson, who is nursing an ankle injury, was placed on the inactive list before kickoff. It meant that you had two players-in Herbig (right guard) and Driscoll (right tackle) on the field with zero NFL experience. When Driscoll got hurt, the Birds inserted Jordan Mailata, another player with no NFL experience.
It turned out to be a garish nightmare for the Birds against a relentless Washington defense that includes four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, who had two sacks, and rookie No. 1 draft pick Chase Young, who had one and a half sacks in his pro debut. The hard-charging Washington defense kept Wentz and the Eagles offense off-balance for most of the game.
“I told them that we’ve got a lot of work to do. Today was not our best,” said Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. “We’ve got to eliminate the mistakes. We can’t have the sacks and the turnovers that we had today and expect to win, especially against a division opponent.”
The Eagles offense was also missing running back Miles Sanders, who was out with a hamstring injury. That said, the Eagles ran the ball just 17 times and were ineffective when they did run.
“Obviously, a very up and down for the line today. Very poor in the run game,” said center Jason Kelce. “I felt like we were never really able to establish the run very well. That’s a combination of guys not executing. Credit to Washington throwing some all-time blitzes. But we have to better upfront. I don’t think anybody played an individually terrible game … Everybody had their chances to screw this one up.”
The Washington offense didn’t necessarily scare anybody, but they did take advantage of short position thanks to those interceptions and a pair of Eagles failed fourth-down conversions in the second half. Eagles safety Jalen Mills said the defense didn’t do a good job of putting out the fire created by the offense’s mistakes.
“You can only cover so much field when they are starting on the short of the field. That does give them easy opportunities to not only score touchdowns but also kick a field goal,” Mills said. “I think us a defense regardless of what field position we’re put in, coach (Jim) Schwartz always preaches we gotta be firemen at times. The offense is not going to be perfect. We’re not going to be perfect. When we’re not, they’re going to pick us up and when we’re not they’re not, we got to pick them up and we gotta limit those touchdowns to at least three points.”
The Eagles hold their home opener at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. You can catch the game on Fox
–29 at 1pm.