For three quarters, the Redskins went toe-to-toe with the Philadelphia Eagles, considered by many to be the best team in the NFC. But the Eagles would pull away in the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns in a three-minute span, to win 28-6 at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Redskins dropped to 3-7 on the season, a full six games behind the division-leading Eagles, who are now 9-1. It was the Redskins' fifth consecutive loss to an NFC East opponent, dating back to last season.
"We've had a lot of tough things happen to our team this year," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "We've had to bounce back from a lot of tough things. The thing I've been proudest of is our guys fighting hard every week. But you have to give the Eagles credit. We were fighting hard, but we just couldn't make the plays at key times in the game."
On the injury front, right guard Randy Thomas left the game with a strained hamstring and was not expected to return to the game. He was replaced in the lineup by Lennie Friedman.
Thomas's status was expected to be updated on Monday. Said Gibbs: "If I had to guess, I think it could be a couple weeks. But I'm just guessing."
Washington was able to keep the game close through three quarters using a run-oriented offense and hard-hitting defense. Patrick Ramsey made his first start of the season at quarterback and completed 21-of-34 passes for 162 yards and one interception.
"In general, we were trying to play it smart against what they do," Gibbs said. "When you play Philadelphia, you have to play very careful. They're very aggressive. And so we tried to have a good solid game plan based on what they do."
But the Redskins committed 12 penalties for 115 yards, sabotaging several scoring opportunities. Five of the penalties were false starts, something that Gibbs attributed to the change at quarterback and the crowd noise at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles put the game away in the fourth quarter against a worn-down Redskins defense. Donovan McNabb connected on a pair of touchdown passes to Brian Westbrook for the scores--the first on a 1-yard pass and the second a 14-yarder.
The first Eagles' TD drive of the fourth quarter was aided by a 30-yard pass interference call on Fred Smoot, a call that the fourth-year cornerback vehemently disagreed with after the game.
On the opening drive of the game, the Redskins took an early 3-0 lead on a 35-yard field goal by Ola Kimrin. Washington took advantage of two Eagle penalties--including a 15-yard face mask penalty against linebacker Ike Reese--to drive downfield.
Ramsey completed passes to Chris Cooley and Rod Gardner on the 12-play, 61-yard drive. The Redskins also gave Philadelphia a heavy dose of the running game with handoffs to Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts.
But the Eagles would respond with a touchdown drive of their own. McNabb used his mobility to rush for 28 yards on the drive, then he threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chad Lewis for the score.
The Redskins' defense clamped down for the remainder of the first half--and McNabb began to pay a price for his scrambling. On the Eagles' second drive, defensive tackle Jermaine Haley, playing in place of injured starter Cornelius Griffin, leveled McNabb, catching the elusive quarterback from behind. Haley forced a fumble on the play, ending the Eagles' drive.
The Redskins were able to add on another field goal late in the first half, with Kimrin connecting on a 24-yarder.
Sean Taylor provided some inspiration early in the second half when he picked off a McNabb pass and returned it to the Eagles' 36-yard line. It was Taylor's third interception of the season.
The Redskins' offense was unable to capitalize on the field position. A holding penalty on center Cory Raymer pushed the Redskins back to midfield and they could not convert on a third-and-long.
"It was frustrating," left tackle Chris Samuels said. "We have to do a better job of executing in the red zone. If we get that touchdown, it could have been a different game. We hurt ourselves right there."
For the most part, the Redskins kept wide receiver Terrell Owens in check, limiting him to two catches. But Owens broke through in the third quarter. McNabb connected with Owens on a 10-yard touchdown pass to the left corner of the end zone, giving the Eagles a 14-6 lead. The score capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive--and was aided by a 15-yard penalty incurred against Taylor for unnecessary roughness.