The 5th Quarter: Eagles II
This one will simply remembered as the one that got away. The Redskins put up a valiant effort, but it wasn't enough to upset the Philadelphia Eagles in an epic battle. In what can only be described as a nasty affair, Washington came out on the losing end of a 17-14 result.
Unfortunately the passing game has to be judged on the entire game, and Patrick Ramsey threw up a real stinker to cap off this outing. Late in the game, within field goal distance, the young quarterback threw up an ill-advised pass to Chris Cooley in double coverage. The pass was picked off by Brian Dawkins ending both the Redskin drive, and their hope of pulling off a giant upset. Patrick's statistics seem irrelevant (29/45 for 251 yards), after such a terrible decision by him to make the pass. Considering the fact that with it being first down on the Eagles 27-yard line, the ONLY thing he had to do was NOT turn it over. After the game Joe Gibbs stated that the Redskins were just 'going for the win' but it was the definitive moment in their ninth loss of the season.
The passing rating gets a boost from the play of Laveranues Coles. Tough, gritty, gutsy... the Redskins receiver was inspirational all night long making the toughest of catches. Michael Lewis nearly decapitated Coles over the middle, and he still held on to the ball. It was just one of his career best 12 receptions on the game, but it personified the toughness that he brings. They were as tough a hundred yards as you will ever see a receiver earn.
The Redskins lost so that can mean only one thing... not enough Clinton Portis. All four of the Redskins wins have come in games where Portis has gained over 100 yards. The Eagles were able to hold him to only 80 yards on 23 carries, largely due to the play of Jeremiah Trotter. Unfortunately for Redskin fans, JT looked like the linebacker they always hoped they would see suit up for them in a Washington uniform. But Portis didn't seem to ever get rolling, and the Eagles managed to overcome many penalties on the defensive line to stuff the Redskins running game.
Considering the above, how is it possible that the 'lowly' Redskins were able to play the 'mighty' Eagles so tough? Defense.
No surprise, the Redskins were in a position to win the game yet again because of the play of the league's number two-ranked defense. Sean Taylor played his best game of his young career, and led a unit that stuffed one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. Terrell Owens had less than 50 yards receiving, Brian Westbrook less than 60 yards rushing and MVP candidate Donovan McNabb had only 260 yards. Considering McNabb's season, the defense 'kept him in check'. Decimated with injuries, the defense continues to rotate utilitarian players through Gregg William's lineup with surprising success. While the Redskins playoff hopes are over at 4-9, 2004 has spawned the beginning of a great defense in D.C.
Hard to believe that a unit that started the game with a 70-yard kickoff return could be described as dismal. Ladell Betts career best return put Washington in a position to put up their first touchdown of the game but was probably the special team's unit's only bright spot in the game. John Hall continues to look like he returned too early from his leg injury, missing a 43-yard field goal, and with his kickoffs barely reaching the 15-yard line. Tom Tupa was squibbing punts all night, perhaps because of a swirling wind at field level, but the end result was a weak 41-yard average.
It's hard to walk away with the chin up after this one, but it bears mentioning that this Eagles team has beat the rest of the division teams by an average of 21 points. The Redskins played tough and while the season is seemingly over, this team continues to gel.
Note: Shawn Springs was knocked out and carted off the field early in the fourth quarter. All reports are that he will be fine and that he 'only' suffered a concussion. His x-rays were negative and all measures taken on the field were strictly precautionary.
This article was released on 2004-12-12.
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