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Younger Players Respond In Tough Division Battle

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With the Redskins locked in a tight battle all afternoon, the would eventually come out with a hard fought victory that was boosted by the play of the younger players.

The usual cast of characters showed up for the Washington Redskins in their 23-20 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at FedExField.

Check out these top photos from the Washington Redskins 2015 Week 4 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles Oct. 4, 2015, at FedExField.

Wide receiver Pierre Garçon showed off his well-known toughness on three different catches – including the game-winner – on the last drive of the game, tackle Trent Williams led an offense line that surrendered just one sack on the day and Ryan Kerrigan and Chris Baker helped pace a pass rush that, at times, simply overwhelmed the Eagles.

But the complete team victory wouldn't have happened without contributions from the team's role players, many of which are in their first few seasons in the NFL.

Take third-year running back Chris Thompson, who recorded a 42-yard rush on a 3rd-and-19 play and later hauled in a 19-yard completion on the team's first drive of the game.

"Being able to catch good out the backfield [is one of my jobs]," Thompson said. "And the quarterback having to trust in me, he did. And he knew he could dump it out to me and trust  to get some good yards for him."

Rookie wide receiver Jamison Crowder, meanwhile, who played a majority of the game in the slot instead of the inactive Andre Roberts, got the most extensive action of his nascent career, recording seven catches for a team-high 65 yards.

The highlight of his day came on a catch he made in-between three different Eagles players.

"I knew it was going to be a big game for me," Crowder said. "It's a big moment for me, getting all this playing time and experience. I just did what I could throughout the week to be as prepared as possible. I just wanted to go out there and play and just do my thing."

After Shawn Lauvao went down with a season-ending injury against the New York Giants, the Redskins looked in the direction of Spencer Long to fill the veteran's spot.

Long – making his first career start – was a steady presence in the interior, in on every play for the offense as they totaled 320 yards.

"Being a backup, you've got to prep like you're going to play," Long said. "That way when it does happens, you're ready to go."

On defense, linebackers Trent Murphy and Preston Smith, two younger players who often rotate reps opposite Ryan Kerrigan, each recorded sacks.

Murphy also halted the Eagles' attempt at a miracle comeback, catching a wild lateral across the field on the last play of the game.

"Last play of the game, they don't have enough arm to throw a Hail Mary," Murphy said. "They got to do some Hook and Ladder. Saw the wall being built up to my side. I knew the ball was coming back, so, just stayed home."

Whether it's been through injuries to the veterans or strong performances of their own, the younger players "have had to grow up fast," according to Redskins head coach Jay Gruden.  

While there will be pains at times, they've already shown capable of competing in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.

"To see Crowder, to see Murphy, to see Preston, to see these young guys – Brandon Scherff – it's awesome to see them," Gruden said. "Spencer Long came in there to compete – get a victory. Then we can get some quality film to coach off of, learn off of, and advance their growth process because of this."

With the Redskins' back against the wall, they climbed out of it on a 90-yard game-winning drive followed by a defense stand.

For quarterback Kirk Cousins, "it really felt like a total team win."

"Whoever is on the field, it takes all 11," he said. "We got a lot of contributions from a lot of different players today and it's going to take that down the stretch here. You're going to have injuries. You're going to need depth and it was encouraging to see how many guys were stepping up today." 

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