ReFo: Redskins @ Eagles, Week 16
The Washington Redskins, riding a five-game winning streak, came into Philadelphia looking to keep their postseason hopes alive and sweep the division rival Eagles for the first time since 2008. They did just that, though it was far harder than their 31-6 victory in Week 11.
Robert Griffin III rarely used his legs in this game but, aided by the running game, was able to do enough through the air to secure the win. Fellow rookie Nick Foles, who had a nightmare against this below-average defense the first time around, seemed ready this time, leading a touchdown drive on the first possession. Washington’s defense eventually got the better of him, although he did have a chance to tie the game in the final moments. Here are some other factors that affected the outcome of this NFC East battle.
Washington – Three Performances of Note
Fletcher and Riley
Starting inside linebackers London Fletcher and Perry Riley played every snap, but they had contrasting impacts on the game. Riley (+3.6) was the highest graded player on the Redskins’ defense, grading positively in every area with no penalties. He started asserting himself early by jumping over LeSean McCoy’s cut block attempt to get an 8-yard sack. Later he beat Shady inside to force Foles out of the pocket; on the next play he got inside center Dallas Reynolds for a hit. Riley didn’t win every individual battle, but in the end he contributed six stops including the sack, didn’t miss any tackles and had good, close coverage on an incompletion aimed at Jason Avant over the middle. All three catches Riley did allow netted a total of 17 yards. Aside from his interception, veteran Fletcher (-2.0) had a day to forget. He didn’t get any pressure on his three blitzes, conceded 9 of 11 passes into his coverage for 82 yards, and missed a tackle on Bryce Brown early.
Rare Pass Rush Sighting
The Redskins’ lack of a pass rush has been a glaring weakness on this team all season, but that wasn’t the case in this contest. Washington sacked Foles five times, put him on the ground seven other times, and registered a further 14 hurries. Ryan Kerrigan had one of his best pass-rushing performances of the year with two sacks (including a forced fumble), a hit and six hurries, one of which gifted teammate Lorenzo Alexander with a sack when he bull-rushed right tackle Dennis Kelly back onto Foles’ ankle. Nose tackle Barry Cofield continued his stellar pass-rushing year with two QB knockdowns, and Stephen Bowen made his lone contribution with a hit on the last play. It should be noted that outside linebacker Rob Jackson, who had left a mark on the past few games, could muster only two hurries in 21 rushes.
Protecting the Franchise
Protecting their prized rookie signal-caller has at times been a problem for Washington’s offensive line. With RG3 returning from injury, keeping him clean was a priority, and they succeeded admirably despite missing starting right tackle Tyler Polumbus. Aside from Trent Cole beating Trent Williams for inside pressure on a third down, the offensive line was perfect in this area. That play was also the only one where Brandon Graham, who had been on a tear lately, picked up a hurry; otherwise, backup right tackle Maurice Hurt got the better of the third-year player. The few times RG3 did end up on the ground, including the Brandon Boykin sack, were not on the Hogs up front.
Philadelphia – Three Performances of Note
McCoy returned to the field for the first time since being concussed at the end of the first meeting with the Redskins. He averaged 3.5 yards-per-carry against an above-average Redskins run defense with 45 yards on 13 carries while forcing five missed tackles. He was deadlier in the passing game though, catching all nine passes thrown to him for 77 yards. McCoy was responsible for picking up nine first downs, including a late 4th-and-2 that put the Eagles in position to tie the game. The only factor that tainted his performance was his pass protection, giving up a sack and a hurry to Riley.
Graham Has Mixed Day
After two great performances in the previous three weeks, Graham came back down to Earth this contest but still made his presence felt. His pass-rushing performance left a lot to be desired — in 18 rushes, he came up with only a single hurry, and that was after Trent Cole had already flushed RG3 out of the pocket. His inability to do anything against the backup right tackle of the injured backup right tackle (Polumbus, who was supposed to be behind Jamaal Brown on the depth chart) was very surprising. Nonetheless, his batted pass at 11:35 in the second quarter was a heads-up play as he was let into the backfield and took advantage, preventing the shovel pass.
Graham did get put on the ground by Chris Cooley once (5:43 left in the second quarter) after being initially doubled by him and Hurt, but otherwise he still contributed three stops in run defense. His most impressive play occurred with 14:32 left in the final quarter where he met a pulling Trent Williams in the hole and took the behemoth left tackle’s best shot before shedding the block and limiting Alfred Morris to a 2-yard gain. (Morris seemed to trip over Logan Paulsen’s ankle, but had he not Graham still would have been there). Plays like this show the kind of power the Eagles are expecting him to exhibit consistently.
New Culprit in Safety Woes
Since starting in Week 14, Colt Anderson had been above-average on the back end of the Eagles’ defense. That wasn’t the case in this game, however. He did make two great plays: His hit forced a Santana Moss drop on 4th-and-2 in the first quarter, and he made the interception off a tipped pass later in the contest. Otherwise, he helped the Redskins with a pair of missed tackles in both the running game and in coverage, the most egregious being his complete whiff on Josh Morgan’s catch-and-run score. Anderson was also beaten for Moss’s 22-yard TD on 3rd-and-10, as well as being culpable for a 17-yard Pierre Garcon catch. He was also helpless against a pulling Williams on Morris’s TD run, though that’s a horrific mismatch.
– The left side of the Eagles’ offensive line (King Dunlap and Evan Mathis) was perfect in pass protection
– Both defenses missed 11 tackles.
– Maligned cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson gave up 58 and 14 yards, while Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha conceded 33 and 13 yards.
PFF Game Ball
While RG3 deserves some credit for his solid performance returning from injury, Perry Riley was all over the field. He contributed in all three major phases of the game (pass rush, coverage, run defense) and made life miserable for Foles and company.
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