Here's five takeaways from the Washington Redskins' Week 1 game against the Philadelphia Eagles that took place at FedExField in Landover, Md.
1. With time to take over the game with less than two minutes left, Washington's last effort ended with a fumble returned for touchdown.
After the defense held stout on a six-play, 33-yard drive that resulted in Philadelphia only extending their lead to five points, Washington had time to go into their two-minute offense and strike for a game-winning score.
But on the second play of a drive that started with 1:59 left on the game clock, Trent Williams was strip sacked before Fletcher Cox scoped up the ball and returned it for a 20-yard touchdown.
The play went under review as Cousins thought the he didn't fumble, but the referees upheld the call on the field.
"There are so many times where I am decisively saying, 'Oh, it's worked out this way.' Then I go back and look at it and say, 'I'm completely wrong.' In the moment, what do I know? I'm just playing," Cousins said. "But right away, I looked back the ref and went like this [motioning arm forward] and my arm's going forward. But, they have time to take a look at it and get it right. They made the call they made. So, I'm not going to lose sleep over that. It's the plays that led up to the moment and those are the ones that I want back."
That fumble was part of a difficult afternoon for the offensive unit, as they finished the day 0-for-2 in the red zone, three-for-10 on third downs and had four turnovers.
"It's frustrating," Gruden said. "I think we're better than that up front. We're better than that at receiver – dropping balls – and we're better than that at quarterback. We all had our hand in it – play-callers, offensively, it wasn't good enough obviously. We still had a chance to win there in the two-minute. Defense kept us in the game, but unfortunately a turnover for a touchdown cost us."
2. Ryan Kerrigan helped swing some momentum in the Redskins' favor during the second quarter with the third pick-six of his career.Scoring the team's first points of the game in the second quarter, Kerrigan caught Carson Wentz's pass intended for running back Darren Sproles and ran it into the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown.
"Well, I got an assist from Stacy [McGee] there, made it a little easier on me to make the catch," Kerrigan said, "But I just had my coverage responsibility expanded with him and fortunately found the ball in my hands."
The pick-six marks the linebacker's third career interception, all of which have been returned for touchdowns. Kerrigan also contributed to one of the team's two sacks of Wentz, who posed a challenge for the Redskins' defense.
"Clearly, he's a tough guy to get down," Kerrigan said. "I mean, he's big, he's athletic and we had a couple chances today where we had him wrapped up and he was able to escape – like on the very first drive of the game when he launched that ball to [Nelson Agholar] and they scored a touchdown – so I think you just got to wrap him up, you got to wrap and hold on and wait for the posse to come."
Despite the team's overall challenges, Kerrigan believes that the Washington's defense forged a fair effort against Wentz and the Eagles' offense.
"I think by and large we played pretty well defensively – a couple turnovers, and we scored."
3. The defense showed glimpses of a more aggressive approach under Greg Manusky, but were frustrated by the inability to bottle up Carson Wentz.
Throughout the offseason, the defense remained open about its desire to be in more of an attacking mode under Manusky, who was promoted to defensive coordinator after a year as the team's outside linebackers coach.
That was on display early, as Josh Norman nearly had a diving interception on the unit's first play of the game before Preston Smith recorded a sack one snap later. Then on third down, it looked like the Redskins were going to get another sack from Jonathan Allen, but Wentz slipped out of the rookie's tackle attempt before extending the play just long enough to toss up a 50-yard touchdown bomb.
It was one of a handful of plays in which the Redskins payed for not taking down the second-year quarterback.
"He made some good plays out there and really helped his team in tight spots," said linebacker Mason Foster. "Quarterbacks who can move around like that and make throws on the run, it puts us in a tight spot, but we have to make more plays. We were right there. We will go look at it and get it corrected and just keep getting better and try to make this the last one like that."
Wentz finished the day completing 26-of-39 passes for 307 yards with two touchdowns to one interception.
"If you don't take him down when you get your hands on him, he is going to make plays down the field," said cornerback Bashaud Breeland. "He keeps his eyes down the field."
4. In a back-and-forth contest, the Redskins struggled to maintain possession of the ball and it cost them.
An aggressive Eagles defense made it difficult for the Redskins' offense to produce on their possessions.
Early in the fourth quarter, an interception at the goal line on third down robbed the Redskins of a chance to score in a game in which they were only trailing 19-17. On a third down throw inside the 15-yard line, Cousins soared a pass over the head of Jamison Crowder.
The Eagles would intercept the ball and end any chance of the Redskins taking back the lead at that point.
"I mean it's anytime you're in the red zone and it's third down, you're going to expect some kind of all-out, zero-cover blitz and that's what they gave us, and we didn't handle it very well," Gruden said. "But anytime you're down there, you're going to protect the football. You've got to be safe with the ball. That was a good rush, but I think the ball just sailed on him by a hair unfortunately."
With less than two minutes left in the game, Cousin's was sacked and lost control of the ball. Officials ruled the play a fumble, allowing Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox to recover the ball and carry it into the end zone.
"We still had a chance to win there in the two-minute," Gruden said. "Defense kept us in the game, but unfortunately a turnover for a touchdown cost us."
The Redskins will take note of the weaknesses in Sunday's performance and look to adjust and improve for this week's road game against the Los Angeles Rams.
5. The Redskins understand that they won't get the results they want on offense if they're not balanced.
Prior to Sunday's game, Gruden noted in one of his press conferences last week that the offense will only be at its best when they're balancing the number of passing and running plays.
But against the Eagles, nearly 60 percent of Washington's offensive plays were throws by Cousins.
Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson combined for just 13 caries while Cousins extended four passing plays into scrambles out of the pocket, as the quarterback finished the day with four carries for 30 yards.
In total, the Redskins managed just 60 rushing yards on 17 carries.
"Our offense is always going to hum along at a much more efficient rate when we're running the ball well and we can keep the defenses unaware if it's going to be a run, pass, or a play action," Cousins said. "If you can honor the run, then you can hopefully open up some windows in the pass game. [I] would've loved to run the ball better, but there's also situations in the game too that you feel like you're throwing it well or you're getting third and long and not able to run it. But if you're third-and-one, you're going to get a lot more rushing attempts. So, sometimes it's just situations that determine the play calling. You get less attempts in practice with being able to run the ball."
Kelley said the entire offensive unit needs to execute better when they plan on running the ball.
"Ten guys do something right and one guy does something wrong, it messes up the play," Kelley said. "It's just us being a team, clinging on to each other, knowing that we have each other's back, working together and executing."