This time it was the defense that came up huge when it had to, stopping the Philadelphia Eagles in a game-winning goal line stand, allowing the Washington Redskins to hold on and win a tough NFC East Division game on the road, 27-20. The victory was their sixth straight and set up a prime time showdown with the Dallas Cowboys (8-7) and a chance to host a playoff game for the first time since 1999 with a win on December 30 at FedEx Field.
The Eagles (4-11) final drive started on their own 15-yard line with 4:15 to play and ended with a coverage sack that caused Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles to intentionally ground the ball with one second to play and Philadelphia five yards from the end zone. The penalty required a 10 second runoff and ended the game.
The Redskins were fortunate to get the win. Foles had wide receiver Jeremy Maclin wide open in the end zone with 18 seconds to play, but his pass was short and hit the turf right in front of the open arms of Maclin. Foles finished the game 32-48 for 345 yards. He threw one touchdown and one interception. Maclin finished the game with eight receptions for 116 yards and one first quarter touchdown.
The Redskins are now one victory from winning the NFC East and making the playoffs for the first time since 2007. After starting the season 3-6, they are now 9-6 and in first place alone after the Cowboys and New York Giants (8-7) both lost on Sunday. Rookie Pro Bowl quarterback Robert Griffin III was again the starter after sitting out the Cleveland Brown game with a sprained left knee.
Griffin had an average game by his standards, completing 16-24 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target, Pierre Garcon finished the game with seven catches for 89 yards. He also showed some rust by throwing an uncharacteristic interception, which led to an Eagles touchdown. RGIII had his lowest rushing game of the season with two carries for four yards. He seemed healthy but appeared to be more cautious than usual regarding running and scrambling with the ball.
The Washington offense got off to a slow start, but after falling behind 7-0, scored 13 straight points. Rookie kicker Kai Forbath set an NFL record by connecting on field goals of 45 and 42 yards in the first half, giving him 17 straight field goals made to start a career. The previous record was 16 in a row set by the Saints Garrett Hartley during the 2008-2009 season. Forbath can now go after the Redskin record of 23 in a row set by Mark Moseley during his 1981-82 MVP season. The Redskins scored their second quarter touchdown on an 11-yard swing pass to Josh Morgan who finished the game with two catches for 21 yards and one touchdown reception.
Another rookie having a record setting year, running back Alfred Morris, was held to just 18 yards in the first half. The half ended with Washington leading 13-10 after the Eagles drove 60 yards and kicked a field goal with 18 seconds left in the second quarter.
Washington took the opening drive of the second half 72 yards in five plays and scored on a 10-yard touchdown run by Morris who finished the game with 91 yards on 22 carries. It was his 10th touchdown of the season and tied him for the Redskin rookie record for touchdowns with former Redskin great and Hall of Fame receiver Charley Taylor, who set the record in 1964.
Morris also has 1,413 rushing yards for the season, giving him the fourth best rushing season in Redskin history with one game to play. He is only 104 yards shy of breaking the Redskin single season rushing record of 1,516 set in 2005 by Clinton Portis. The score gave Washington a 20-10 lead with 12:33 to play in the third quarter.
However, Philadelphia would not go away and responded with a field goal to cut the Redskins lead to 20-13 with 8:01 left to play in the third quarter.
The Eagles then decided to go for it on fourth and two, but a Ryan Kerrigan sack gave Washington the ball back near midfield with four minutes to play in the third quarter. Kerrigan had two sacks in the game and now has 8.5 sacks for the year, topping the 7.5 sacks he had last year as a rookie. Kerrigan also had a forced fumble, which led to a first half Forbath field goal. The Redskins then began driving into scoring position, and an Evan Royster run led to a first down at the 22-yard line. On third down RGIII hit Santana Moss with a beautiful toe-dragging touchdown pass, giving Washington a 27-13 lead. Moss now leads the team with eight touchdown receptions.
Philadelphia then took advantage of the RGIII interception. Starting at their own 39-yard line, they drove down the field and scored, closing the gap to 27-20 with 8:55 to play in the game. It was the first Eagles interception in nine weeks. Washington was unable to respond with a score of their own, but they were able to withstand a rookie quarterback looking to make a name for himself with a late game-tying touchdown. This time it was the defense and not the usually potent offense that came up big in crunch time over a courageous and determined Eagles team.