The Fifth Quarter: Philadelphia Eagles II
By: Daniel Coleman
Category: Washington Redskins News
On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 5 Quarters:
Washington entered Sunday's matchup in contention for the "Most Cited Statistic by NFL Analysts" award, as Jason Campbell had yet to complete a touchdown pass to a wide receiver. James Thrash helped break the ice, catching two, and the passing offense received the spark that they had been waiting for most of this season.
Thrash led the way with five catches for 85 yards and his two touchdowns. He was followed by Antwaan Randle El, who recorded five receptions for 44 yards. The offensive line gave Campbell time for the most part, and Campbell's passes were generally crisp and on target. Campbell finished the day with three touchdown passes and no interceptions, improving his season TD-INT ratio to 9-7.
Even though the passing offense had a break-out performance, they also contributed to some of the Redskins' key mistakes on Sunday. Chris Cooley committed a costly false start penalty on a play that would surely have been a touchdown pass to a wide-open Thrash, which may very well have put the game away. Campbell also fumbled late in the game, killing one drive and sapping whatever momentum the Redskins had left at that point.
On the whole, it was a nice change of pace to see Campbell drop back and have the passing offense produce. Campbell's performance, outside of the fourth quarter, was sharp. Washington needed Jason Campbell and the wide receivers to stay productive late in the game, but unfortunately, they were unable to perform.
Clinton Portis came into Sunday's game wanting to prove that last week's 196-yard performance was no fluke. He has shown great improvement in the last two weeks from his early struggles, and for the second week in a row Portis was able to slice through the Eagles' front seven on numerous occasions and register big plays. He finished the day with 30 carries for 137 yards,
Ladell Betts, who really hasn't seen consistent carries this year - even as a relief back - had his worst game of the season by far, fumbling the ball on his only carry.
The only weakness that the rushing offense showed came as the Redskins edged closer and closer to the goal line. As the Eagles' defense tightened up and the Redskins were forced to muscle their way forward, the line wasn't able to get much movement going, and Portis was stuffed. Better execution - or, perhaps, a few more starters on the line - would have sealed the game.
Aside from the Patriot's blowout performance, Sunday's game was the worst outing of the year for the defense. Although they stuffed the Eagles on numerous drives and forced two turnovers, they benefited greatly from Donovan McNabb's inaccurate throws and allowed too many big gains late in the game.
Donovan McNabb threw for four touchdowns (with one give-away touchdown designed to get the ball back to the Redskins' offense). Westbrook gained 100 yards on only 20 carries, and McNabb scrambled for 37 yards on seven attempts. Brian Westbrook also had a nearly identical performance to James Thrash in receiving, netting 83 yards on five receptions, including a 57-yard scamper that caught the secondary by surprise.
It is clear that the injuries to key players are creating cracks in what was an outstanding unit earlier in the year. With Carlos Rogers out, an ailing Fred Smoot had to stick out the game - or, at least, for as long as he was able. Marcus Washington, with his nagging hamstring injury, had to sit out. Sean Taylor had to leave the game with what looks to be a mild knee injury, but it was no coincidence that the Eagles threw a deep pass down the middle for a touchdown after he had left the game. It was the first time this season that any team has completed such a pass against this defense. Cornelius Griffin also continues to see limited action. The Redskins will need at least one or two of these players healthy down the stretch if they are going to help keep a struggling offense in the game.
Shaun Suisham had a look of disgust after he missed an extra point attempt following the Redskins' touchdown on their opening drive. Such a small miscue in the first quarter had a ripple of increasing effects throughout the game, as the Redskins attempted a two-point conversion on their next drive—and failed—and settled for a field goal later, notching 15 points on the scoreboard. The Eagles attempted two two-point conversions, failing on both and erasing the deficit that was created by the Redskins' own failed point-after attempts.
Suisham's kickoffs were again on the shorter side, sending only two of six inside of the Eagles' ten-yard line—with both falling at the Eagles' seven. The coverage units were solid again, however, and the Eagles rarely started with good field position. Derrick Frost had a relatively quiet day, with only two punts averaging 40 yards. Rock Cartwright consistently put the Skins past their own 30 for starting field position.
This was the Redskins’ second late-game collapse against a division rival out of their three divisional games so far this year. These are the most painful games to watch slip away, but fortunately the underdog Redskins have a chance to steal one from Dallas in six days.
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