For three quarters on Sunday, third down was the Redskins' best friend.
The Redskins had built a 24-16 lead over the Philadelphia Eagles early in the fourth quarter--and it seemed momentum was on their side at unfriendly Lincoln Financial Field.
The Redskins' offense was a remarkable 8-of-13 on third downs, while the defense limited the Eagles to just 2-of-10 third-down conversions.
It all came apart in the fourth quarter.
Philadelphia rallied, scoring the final 11 points to pull out a 27-24 win over the Redskins.
And it was third downs that did the Redskins in.
The Redskins' defense allowed the Eagles' offense to convert 3-of-5 third-downs in the fourth quarter, including a touchdown run that, with a 2-point conversion, tied the game.
The offense had frustrated the Eagles' defense with its third-down conversions most of the game, but in the final quarter they were 0-for-3--as well as 0-for-1 on a last-gasp fourth down attempt.
The loss dropped Washington to 3-8 on the season.
Jason Campbell was sharp most of the game, completing 22-of-37 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. He was able to overcome two interceptions by cornerback Asante Samuel.
Campbell opened the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter. He would use his mobility to escape pressure all game long--he was sacked just once--and make throws downfield, frustrating the Eagles' defense.
Santana Moss caught four passes for 28 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown catch, and Fred Davis added four catches for 43 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown grab. Malcolm Kelly made two impressive catches for 50 yards as well.
The Redskins' defense had some breakdowns in the fourth quarter, as quarterback Donovan McNabb completed a 46-yard pass and a 35-yard pass on successive drives to lead the Eagles.
London Fletcher led the defense with 11 tackles and had a sack of McNabb. Andre Carter added a sack and Justin Tryon recorded his first career interception, with an assist from Chris Wilson.
The Redskins entered the game shorthanded due to injuries.
On defense, Albert Haynesworth was missing from the interior defensive line due to a sprained ankle and DeAngelo Hall was out with a sprained knee. Clinton Portis (concussion) and Chris Cooley (ankle) were also sidelined.
Add in to the mix undrafted rookie offensive lineman Edwin Williams, who made his first NFL start on Sunday playing right guard.
Call it gut-check time for the Redskins' backups and young players--on both sides of the ball.
The Eagles weren't about to give them any respect, either.
They opened with a surprise onsides kick. The ball touched a Philadelphia player before the necessary 10 yards, a penalty that ultimately gave possession to the Redskins at the Eagles' 19-yard line.
Campbell made the Eagles pay.
He completed a 10-yard pass to Antwaan Randle El to the Eagles' 1-yard line, then faked a handoff and rolled left. He cut inside a block and dove into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Eagles' gambit on the onsides kick had backfired, but they made up for it by getting into a quick rhythm.
They did it on the ground. Running back LeSean McCoy ran 29 yards up the middle of the defense and fullback Leonard Weaver picked up 18 yards to the Redskins' 10-yard line.
The drive stalled on 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line. It appeared McNabb had thrown a touchdown pass to wide receiver DeSean Jackson, but the play was called back due to offensive pass interference on tight end Brent Celek.
The Eagles settled for a 29-yard field goal by David Akers.
Later in the first quarter, Jackson set up the Eagles' offense with a 29-yard punt return. Leave it to Kareem Moore to make a touchdown-saving tackle at midfield.
Philadelphia faced another 4th-and-1 at the Redskins' 40-tard line and opted to go for it. Weaver took a quick handoff and charged up the middle for two yards.
Two plays later, McNabb avoided pressure up the middle and rolled left. Jackson broke free from coverage and was so wide open in the end zone that he had to wait for McNabb's throw.
Jackson pulled in the pass for a 35-yard touchdown grab and the Eagles took a 10-7 lead.
The Redskins responded, though.
On the ensuing drive, the Redskins converted three third downs to move into scoring range.
Rock Cartwright caught a screen pass and picked up 14 yards to convert 3rd-and-11 and Devin Thomas had a 12-yard catch to convert 3rd-and-9.
On 3rd-and-2 at the Eagles' 31-yard line, Campbell threw a perfectly to Kelly down the right sideline. The ball landed softly in Kelly's hands for a 27-yard pickup.
One play later, Santana Moss cut in front of safety Macho Harris and grabbed a 4-yard touchdown pass from Campbell.
Late in the second quarter, Campbell was intercepted twice by Samuel on successive drives, setting up the Eagles offense in Redskins territory.
Both times the defense held, forcing a pair of field goals by Akers.
The Redskins trailed at halftime 16-14.
The third quarter has been the Redskins' best quarter all season, owning an impressive 59-10 scoring margin against opponents.
The trend continued on Sunday, as the Redskins moved downfield by converting three more third downs.
First Davis caught a short pass along the right sideline and broke a series of tackles to pick up 29 yards. Then Thomas broke free from coverage and pulled in a 35-yard pass to the Eagles' 13-yard line.
Two plays later, on 3rd-and-7, Campbell eluded pressure again and rolled right. Davis found a zone in the Eagles' defense and Campbell found him for a 10-yard touchdown pass.
The Redskins had regained the lead at 21-16.
Time for the defense to step up.
The Redskins' defense forced three consecutive 3-and-outs in the third quarter, with Fletcher breaking up a pass to Jackson to end one drive. Jackson suffered a neck and shoulder injury and was sidelined the rest of the game.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, a blitzing Wilson got a hand on a McNabb pass and the ball fluttered into the arms of Tryon at the Eagles' 23-yard line.
The Redskins took over.
Campbell connected with Mike Sellers for a 12-yard gain, but the drive stalled as Campbell's third-down pass to Davis was off target.
The Redskins settled for a 25-yard field goal and a 24-16 edge.
This deficit apparently was a wake-up call for the Eagles.
McNabb connected with wide receiver Jason Avant on 46-yard pass downfield and then found him again for a 20-yard pass to move the Eagles into scoring range. Weaver bulldozed ahead for 12 yards to the Redskins' 1-yard line.
Rocky McIntosh and Doughty stuffed running back Eldra Buckley on a run up the middle on first down and McNabb's pass to Celek in the end zone was incomplete on second down.
On third down, Buckley came back and powered into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run.
It was 24-22, and the Eagles opted for a 2-point attempt with 7:27 left in the game.
McNabb tossed a shovel pass to McCoy, who broke a tackle and plunged into the end zone for the game-tying score.
The Eagles got the ball back with 5:35 left and McCoy got the offense going with a 12-yard run up the middle.
Then McNabb connected with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin--who had a step on Carlos Rogers--on a 35-yard pass down the right sideline to put the Eagles in scoring range again.
Clock started to wind down as the Eagles moved closer by converting a 3rd-and-5 on McNabb's 6-yard pass to Maclin.
Two runs by McCoy and a 1-yard sack by Fletcher forced the Eagles to go for a 32-yard field goal attempt.
Akers' effort sailed through the uprights to give Philadelphia a 27-24 lead with 1:44 left.
Campbell and the Redskins' offense had one last opportunity.
Starting at the 16-yard line, Campbell's first pass sailed high to Thomas and his second attempt was just out of Davis's reach. Then Campbell completed a 9-yard pass to Randle El, forcing a 4th-and-1.
On what amounted to the game's last play, Campbell was able to get off a pass to Moss under pressure from defensive end Juqua Parker. The ball bounced on the ground as Moss pulled the ball in.
The entire Eagles sidelined waved incomplete, and referees agreed.
For all of the Redskins' successes in Philadelphia, finishing strong was not one of them. And that proved to be fatal.
Photo Album: Redskins-Eagles](/media-gallery/photos/week-11-redskins-eagles/3056BE64-19DE-4555-B8D1-0A3A6456F068)
The Redskins continue their two-game NFC East road trip when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Nov. 29 at Lincoln Financial Field. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.
Lincoln Financial Field is a natural grass surface. The stadium seats 68,532.
The Redskins, in last place in the NFC East through Week 11, are 0-3 in the division. They lost to the New York Giants 23-17 in Week 1 at the Meadowlands, the Eagles 27-17 in Week 7 at FedExField and the Cowboys 7-6 in Week 11 at Cowboys Stadium.
Last year, the Redskins were 3-3 in the NFC East, including a pair of wins over the Eagles.
The Redskins are 0-4 in road games this season. They have not won a road game since Nov. 23, 2008 when they beat Seattle 20-17 at Qwest Field.
The Eagles are coming off a 24-20 victory over the Chicago Bears.
The Redskins-Eagles game will be broadcast regionally on FOX. Kenny Albert calls the play-by-play with color commentary by Daryl Johnston. Tony Siragusa is the sideline reporter.
On radio, the game will be broadcast locally on the Redskins Radio Network. Larry Michael calls the play-by-play with former Redskins and Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff adding color commentary. Former Redskin Rick 'Doc' Walker reports from the sidelines.
Jorge Andres and Mario Alfaro call the game in Spanish on ESPN Deportes 730.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
|WR||89 Santana Moss||10 DeSean Jackson|
|LT||76 Levi Jones||71 Jason Peters|
|LG||66 Derrick Dockery||79 Todd Herremans|
|C||61 Casey Rabach||67 Jamaal Jackson|
|RG||71 Mike Williams||59 Nick Cole|
|RT||74 Stephon Heyer||74 Winston Justice|
|TE||86 Fred Davis||87 Brent Celek|
|WR||11 Devin Thomas||18 Jeremy Maclin|
|QB||17 Jason Campbell||5 Donovan McNabb|
|FB||45 Mike Sellers||43 Leonard Weaver|
|RB||31 Rock Cartwright||29 LeSean McCoy|
|DE||99 Andre Carter||75 Juqua Parker|
|DT||96 Cornelius Griffin||98 Mike Patterson|
|DT||92 A. Haynesworth||97 Brodrick Bunkley|
|DE||93 Phillip Daniels||58 Trent Cole|
|LB||98 Brian Orakpo||56 Chris Gocong|
|LB||59 London Fletcher||50 Will Witherspoon|
|LB||52 Rocky McIntosh||56 Akeem Jordan|
|LCB||23 DeAngelo Hall||22 Asante Samuel|
|RCB||27 Fred Smoot||24 Sheldon Brown|
|SS||37 Reed Doughty||27 Quintin Mikell|
|FS||30 LaRon Landry||26 Sean Jones|
|P||3 Hunter Smith||6 Sav Rocca|
|K||6 Shaun Suisham||2 David Akers|
|H||3 Hunter Smith||6 Sav Rocca|
|LS||67 Ethan Albright||46 Jon Dorenbos|
|KOR||31 Rock Cartwright||39 Quintin Demps|
|PR||82 A. Randle El||10 DeSean Jackson|
Washington and Philadelphia have met a total of 150 times over their long rivalry, which dates back to 1934. They have played a home-and-home series every year since 1936.
The Redskins hold the series edge at 78-67-6. Since 2000, the Eagles have won 12 of 19 games.
The Eagles defeated the Redskins 27-17 in Week 7 at FedExField earlier this season.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson had a 67-yard touchdown run on a reverse and later caught a 57-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb.
Jason Campbell was sacked six times by the Eagles defense, but managed to throw TD passes to Devin Thomas and Fred Davis.
The Redskins defeated the Eagles twice in 2008. It was the first time since 2005 that Washington had swept the season series.
In Week 16, the Redskins defeated the Eagles 10-3 at FedExField, as LaRon Landry and Fred Smoot combined on a tackle of wide receiver Reggie Brown at the goal line just as time expired in the game.
Eleven weeks earlier, the Redskins defeated the Eagles 23-17 at Lincoln Financial Field. Clinton Portis rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown, part of a 203-yard rushing day for the Redskins' offense. Chris Cooley caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Antwaan Randle El as the Redskins came back from a 14-0 first quarter deficit.
The Redskins and Eagles have clashed once in the postseason, with Washington winning 20-6 on Jan. 4, 1991 at Veterans Stadium in the Wild Card playoff round.
TALE OF THE TAPE
|REDSKINS 2009 RANKINGS|
|EAGLES 2009 RANKINGS|
FAMILIAR FACES ON THE EAGLES
Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter played for the Redskins in 2002-03. He signed with Washington as an unrestricted free agent after four years in Philadelphia. He returned to Philadelphia in 2004 and has spent the bulk of his career with the Eagles.
Kicker David Akers played for the Redskins in 1998. His first NFL game was with the Redskins, on Sept. 20, 1998 vs. Seattle.
Defensive end Chris Clemons played for the Redskins from 2003-05. He joined the Redskins as an undrafted free agent in 2005.
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson played for the Redskins from 2005-06. He played in three games in the 2005 season and posted one interception.
Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon was on the Redskins' roster during 2009 training camp and preseason, but was released by the team in final roster cuts. He originally joined the Redskins as an undrafted rookie in May 2009.
Pro scout Louis Riddick served as director of pro personnel and pro scout with the Redskins from 2001-07.
REDSKINS-EAGLES NEWS & NOTES
-- Rock's World
It has been a long time coming for Rock Cartwright.
He is expected to make his first start since Dec. 27, 2003 this Sunday when the Redskins travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Coincidentally, Cartwright's last start was also against the Eagles.
Through the years, Cartwright has lobbied for more carries at running back, but he was behind Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts on the depth chart.
With both Portis and Betts sidelined with injuries, Cartwright gets his chance.
"I've been waiting for this opportunity," Cartwright said. "The last time I started was 2003, so I'm looking forward to it. I've got to work extra hard at practice and just continue to believe in my O-line--they're doing a great job for me, and the guys around me."
This season, Cartwright has 30 rushes for 135 yards, a 4.5 yards-per-carry average.
Thirteen of those carries came in last Sunday's game at Dallas. He led the Redskins with 67 has rushing yards and also caught a career-high seven passes for 73 yards.
His 34-yard run in the second quarter of the game was his longest since a 52-yard run at St. Louis on Dec. 4, 2005.
For his career, Cartwright has 181 carries for 796 yards and six touchdowns. He has caught 45 career passes for 406 yards and two touchdowns.
-- Westbrook Brothers
Redskins cornerback and special teams player Byron Westbrook is the brother of Eagles running back Brian Westbrook.
They both hail from Washington, D.C., and attended DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md.
Brian Westbrook is not expected to play in the game, however. He has suffered a pair of concussions this season--his first came in Week 7 vs. Washington--and remains sidelined as he recovers from the injury.
Byron, 5-10 and 202 pounds, earned a roster spot on the Redskins coming out of preseason. He was on the Redskins' practice squad the last two years and he often mimicked his brother on the scout team during Redskins practices.
Westbrook was asked last year if there was any downside to being Brian's brother.
"The only negative thing is that people expect me to fill his shoes," Westbrook said. "But I'm not a running back, I'm a cornerback. I play on a defense. I'm trying to hit him."
-- Redskins Team Captains
The Redskins have elected captains for the offense, defense and special teams.
For the offense, it's quarterback Jason Campbell and left tackle Chris Samuels.
For the defense, it's defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin and linebacker London Fletcher.
For special teams, it's running back Rock Cartwright and fullback Mike Sellers.
Sellers is the newcomer of the captains this year. The other five were also voted team captains in 2008.
-- Smith's Specials
Washington's kick coverage units, led by special teams coach Danny Smith, have been among the league's best in 2009.
On kickoffs, the Redskins are ranked third in the league with opponents averaging 20.0 yards per return.
The punt coverage unit is ranked eighth in the league with opponents averaging 6.5 yards per return.
Smith coached special teams in Philadelphia from 1995-96, then switched to defensive backs coach for the Eagles from 1997-98.
Smith coached in Philadelphia under Ray Rhodes, who was the Redskins' defensive coordinator in 2000.
-- Blache, Lewis And Reid
Greg Blache, Sherman Lewis and Eagles head coach Andy Reid worked on the same staff in Green Bay from 1992-93.
From 1992-93, Blache coached Green Bay's defensive line and Lewis was the offensive coordinator under then Packers head coach Mike Holmgren.
Also on that coaching staff were future NFL head coaches Andy Reid, Dick Jauron, Ray Rhodes, Steve Mariucci and Jon Gruden.
Blache also coached with the late Jim Johnson, the former Eagles defensive coordinator, while with the Jacksonville Bulls of the USFL in 1985 and the Indianapolis Colts froom 1994-97.
-- Strength of Schedule
Washington's strength of schedule for 2009 was ranked 16th in the NFL at .492. Their opponents' 2008 cumulative record was 125-129-2.
The Redskins play a total of seven games against 2008 playoff teams, with four of those games against NFC East foes Philadelphia and New York.
The Miami Dolphins have the NFL's toughest schedule at .594. Their opponents' 2008 cumulative record was 152-104.
The Chicago Bears have the NFL's easiest schedule at .414. Their opponents' 2008 cumulative record was 105-149-2.
-- QB Rating vs. Redskins
The Redskins' defense has continued its NFL-best streak of not allowing an opposing quarterback to reach a QB rating of 100 or more.
The defense improved its streak to 32 games in last Sunday's game vs. Dallas. The stat is based on a minimum of 20 pass attempts.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had a 69.7 QB rating against the Redskins' defense. He was 15-of-27 passes for 158 yards.
Romo was the last QB to post a 100 passer rating with 20 or more pass attempts against the Redskins. He accomplished it on Nov. 18, 2007, in a 28-23 win over the Redskins at Texas Stadium.
-- D-Line Sackmasters
The Redskins' starting defensive line of Phillip Daniels, Cornelius Griffin, Albert Haynesworth and Andre Carter has combined for 175.5 career sacks.
That's the most of any current starting defensive line in the NFL.
Cornelius Griffin registered his 29th career sack last Sunday in Dallas. That ties him for seventh place among active defensive tackles.
Albert Haynesworth's 27 career sacks is tied for 10th among active defensive tackles.
-- It's Witherspoon Again
Eagles linebacker Will Witherspoon will play his third game against the Redskins on Sunday.
Witherspoon opened the season with the St. Louis Rams. In Week 2, he led the defense with 10 tackles, but the Rams lost 9-7.
The Eagles acquired linebacker Will Witherspoon in a trade with the St. Louis Rams on Tuesday, Oct. 20, just a few hours before the trading deadline.
In Week 7, in his first game with the Eagles, Witherspoon recorded eight tackles, a sack and forced fumble and returned an interception 9 yards for a touchdown.
-- McNabb vs. the Redskins
Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has an all-time record of 11-7 in games against the Redskins.
McNabb has completed 59 percent of his passes vs. Washington, for 3,689 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
McNabb has compiled 538 rushing yards and three touchdowns against the Redskins. However, in the last six games in the series, McNabb has rushed for just 87 yards on 25 carries.
-- What's Next?
The Redskins return to FedExField for a home game against the New Orleans Saints. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.
It's the Redskins' last game against the NFC South this season. They are 1-2 against the division this year.
The Redskins defeated the Saints 29-24 at FedExField in 2008.