Mark Brunell knelt at the 12-yard line, cradling the ball, and waited for the game's final seconds to tick away. He turned to face the FedExField fans behind him and pumped his fist in the air, drawing applause. And with that, the Redskins had defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 17-10 in front of the second largest crowd ever at FedExField, ending a seven-game losing streak to their NFC East rival.
The win improved the Redskins' record to 5-3 on the season and 2-1 in the highly competitive NFC East.
"I'm really proud of our team to bounce back after what happened last week," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "It was a hard-fought and very physical game."
And it was a game that came down to the final minutes.
Philadelphia had one last effort to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. McNabb guided the Eagles downfield, picking up big chunks of yardage through the air. The Redskins' defense dug in again when the Eagles got near the goal line.
On 4th-and-4 at the Redskins' 8-yard line, Washington pressured McNabb, forcing the quarterback to throw a pass right into the arms of safety Ryan Clark. The interception sealed the win for the Redskins.
"When I made that play, we all made that play," Clark said, referring to his defensive teammates. "I caught it in between the numbers, just like my son catches it when I throw it to him."
The Redskins had returned to the comfy confines of FedExField after last week's 36-0 thumping at the hands of the New York Giants. Eager to rebound, the Redskins were crisp on offense and hard-hitting on defense.
Brunell had a stellar game, completing 21-of-29 passes for 224 yards. He continued to develop his rapport with Santana Moss, who caught seven passes for 79 yards, and Chris Cooley, who logged seven passes for 85 yards.
It was Mike Sellers and Clinton Portis who scored both of the Redskins' touchdowns. Both came right up the middle of the Eagles' defense, Sellers from one yard out in the second quarter and Portis from six yards in the third quarter.
Portis finished the game with 67 yards on 21 carries. He surpassed 5,000 yards rushing in his career in the first half.
On defense, LaVar Arrington started at weak-side linebacker, drawing wild applause from fans, and was all over the field, logging a team-high six tackles. Marcus Washington added four tackles and a sack and Ryan Clark had an interception to seal the Redskins' win in the fourth quarter.
In the early going, the two teams were in a taut defensive battle, as is always the case with these two hard-hitting teams. Philadelphia broke through with the first points late in the first quarter.
The Brunell-to- Moss combination was going strong in the first quarter, as the two connected on several passes. Clinton Portis lined up at wide receiver and caught a pass in the first quarter. Meantime, the normally pass-happy Eagles, without controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens, appeared committed to establishing the run with Brian Westbrook.
But neither team could get on the scoreboard until the Eagles struck late in the first quarter.
With the Redskins playing a zone defense, Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb threw a short pass to rookie wide receiver Reggie Brown, who crossed into open field and raced for a 56-yard touchdown reception. The score gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
The Redskins responded with a scoring drive of their own.
Brunell connected with Moss twice more, completing passes of 20 and 18 yards. Chris Cooley caught an 18-yard pass on a 3rd-and-17 play. But Cooley could not convert on a 3rd-and-4 at the Eagles' 8-yard line. He caught a swing pass from Brunell, but he was stopped short of the first down.
John Hall converted a 24-yard field goal to get the Redskins on the scoreboard.
Midway through the second quarter, the Redskins took the lead on 5-play, 79-yard drive.
Portis got the drive off to a good start with a 15-yard pickup. Later, Brunell threw a deep pass to David Patten, who had to hold up near the goal line to catch the under-thrown ball. Cornerback Lito Sheppard was step-for-step with Patten and clearly interfered with Patten, drawing a yellow flag.
The penalty gave the Redskins a 1st-and-goal at the Eagles' 1-yard line. Mike Sellers, lined up as a fullback, took the handoff and bulldozed across the goal line for the touchdown and a 10-7 lead.
Late in the first half, the Redskins were driving downfield again. Brunell dropped back to pass and had the ball stripped by defensive end Trent Cole. The fumble was picked up by lineman Juqua Thomas and returned to the Eagles' 43-yard line.
With less than 30 seconds left and the Eagles at the Redskins' 24-yard line, McNabb was sacked by defensive end Phillip Daniels for a 7-yard loss. Then McNabb tried to fool the Redskins with a fake spike, but it only ended up fooling his own offensive line. A false start was called and 10 seconds were removed from the clock, ending the half.
The Redskins raced off the field, fists pumping and arms raised high. The defense had preserved the 10-7 lead heading into halftime.
In the third quarter, the Eagles tied the game at 10-10 on an 11-play, 64-yard drive capped by a 34-yard field goal by David Akers.
The Redskins quickly struck back, with Ladell Betts getting the offense going with a 40-yard kick return to the Eagles' 48-yard line. Then Brunell threw a 26-yard pass to Betts to put the Redskins in scoring position again.
Brunell then threw a 13-yard pass to Cooley, who was stripped of the ball at the Eagles' 6-yard line. Derrick Dockery pounced on the fumble to preserve the Redskins' possession. The fumble recovery was cited by Gibbs and Clark as one of the key plays of the game.
On the next play, Portis burst through a gaping hole up the middle for a 5-yard touchdown run and a 17-10 Redskins lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Redskins' defense shut down the Eagles on their next two possessions. Linebacker Marcus Washington sacked McNabb to end one drive and cornerback Carlos Rogers knocked Brown out of bounds just short of the first down to end another drive.
The defense rose to the challenge again in the final minutes, thwarting Philadelphia's late drive to tie the game.
-- SCORING SUMMARY
- PHI -- Reggie Brown, 56 Yd pass from Donovan McNabb (David Akers kick is good), 1st Quarter, 2:55. Drive: 5 plays, 70 yards in 3:10.
- WAS -- John Hall 24 Yd Field Goal, 2nd Quarter, 12:37. Drive: 10 plays, 59 yards in 5:18.
- WAS -- Mike Sellers, 1 Yd run (John Hall kick is good), 2nd Quarter, 4:17. Drive: 5 plays, 79 yards in 2:29.
- PHI -- David Akers 34 Yd Field Goal, 3rd Quarter, 6:26. Drive: 11 plays, 64 yards in 5:34.
- WAS -- Clinton Portis, 6 Yd run (John Hall kick is good), 3rd Quarter, 2:47. Drive: 7 plays, 48 yards in 3:39.
-- FINAL STATS