The NFC East drama has finally come to conclusion. On Saturday night, Dec. 26, 2015 in front of a packed house at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the Washington Redskins soundly defeated the rival Philadelphia Eagles by a final score of 38-24.
The Redskins (8-7) are now headed to the playoffs, while the Eagles (6-9) have been mathematically eliminated from the 2015 NFL playoff race. By virtue of the win, the Redskins clinched their first division title since 2012, when they were led by a sensational rookie quarterback named Robert Griffin III aka ‘RG3’. That was then, and this is now.
This season, quarterback Kirk Cousins started every game for the Redskins. Though still on the Washington roster, ‘RG3’ has since been relegated to backup status, was inactive for the game against Philadelphia, and has become little more than an increasingly uninteresting backstory. It is now safe to say, the Kirk Cousins era has begun in earnest.
A little over a month ago, the Redskins had a record of 4-6 and were sitting in the middle of a muddled, mediocre NFC East division. Since then, they have won four of the last five games, including the last three straight. By capturing the division crown, the team are now assured of hosting a playoff game. The playoff schedule is not yet set, but the game will be played on ‘Wild card weekend’, which takes place on Jan. 9-10, 2016.
Against the Eagles, in the most important game of the season, Cousins was sharp. Dynamic Redskins tight end Jordan Reed had two touchdown catches and went a long way toward establishing himself as one of the NFL’s premier players at that position. Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who spent the first six seasons of his NFL career with the Eagles before joining Washington in 2014, was able to get a measure of revenge against his former team.
Philly opened the game with a touchdown on their first possession, but then went ice cold. Washington had gone three-and-out on their first possession, but then scored touchdowns on their next two possessions. A rather bizarre play by Cousins at the end of the first half, kept the game a bit closer than it should have been.
The Redskins were leading 16-10 and had the ball inside the Philadelphia five-yard line with six seconds left in the half. After the ball was snapped, Cousins inexplicably took a knee, instead of spiking the ball to stop the clock. As the Redskins were out of timeouts, this allowed the clock to run all the way down to zero and thus what would have been a chip-shot field goal to make the score 19-10, never happened.
In the second half, the Eagles were able to keep the game close for awhile, but never could take the lead. The last huge momentum shift came late in the third quarter when Philly had the ball and were trailing 23-17. Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford was unable to cleanly hand the ball off to his running back DeMarco Murray. The result of the play, was a fumble which was scooped up by Washington defensive back DeAngelo Hall who returned it for a touchdown to push the lead to 30-17. From that point on, the outcome was never in doubt.
Game stats – Total offensive yards: WAS 418, PHI 398. Total net rushing yards: WAS 67, PHI 45. Third down efficiency: WAS 5/14, PHI 7/19. Turnovers: WAS 0, PHI 2.