LANDOVER — With 1:59 to play, Kirk Cousins got a final chance to execute the Redskins two-minute offense and lead a touchdown drive to take the lead. It didn’t last long.
The official game book will show that, on the second play of that drive, Cousins fumbled. It will show that his fumble was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by Fletcher Cox, putting the Eagles ahead 30-17 after a successful two-point conversion. The ruling of a fumble stood after review, though it looked an awful lot like an incomplete pass.
Even if the call was wrong, the Redskins had other chances to take the lead and didn’t take advantage. Instead, Washington lost its first game of the 2017 season, 30-17, Sunday at FedEx Field.
Cousins marched his team into the red zone with the score at 19-17 and could have taken the lead earlier in the fourth quarter. Instead, he threw off-balance off his back foot and sailed a pass over wide receiver Jamison Crowder’s outstretched hands.
The ball was intercepted at the goal line by cornerback Jalen Mills, who returned it to the Philadelphia 15-yard line and gave his team an extra drive with 12:21 left to play.
Struggling on third downs and in the red zone, familiar problems from last season, the Redskins put themselves in a 13-0 hole early in the second quarter. There had been disastrous plays in all three phases of the game.
It seemed the Redskins defense got off to a good start — great coverage from cornerback Josh Norman who broke up a pass when the Eagles went deep on their first offensive play of the game, then a sack from Preston Smith — but, on 3rd-and-long, they undid all that progress.
Wentz, showing impressive strength and calm in the pocket, evaded Washington’s pass rush for several seconds, far too long for defensive backs to stay in good coverage. The Redskins had multiple opportunities for sacks on the play, but Wentz floated and shifted and stepped away until he found Nelson Agholor uncovered to his left. Wentz threw deep to Agholor, who ran the ball into the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown.
On the following drive, Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox beat Redskins right tackle Morgan Moses around the edge and strip-sacked Cousins, who was sacked four times overall during the game and finished 23-for-40 with 240 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Linebacker Jordan Hicks recovered the fumble and the Eagles took over and threatened to score until Wentz returned the favor, throwing an ill-advised lateral pass that was broken up by cornerback Kendall Fuller. The ball didn’t go forward and fell incomplete, which counts as a fumble, which linebacker Mason Foster recovered.
Washington didn’t score until linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, yes, linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, did on a pick six in the second quarter. The offense didn’t score until even later, when running back Chris Thompson gave the Redskins a brief 14-13 lead after he took a short pass 29 yards to the end zone, aided by a vicious spin move.
Both teams traded field goals until the fateful two-minute drill for Washington at the end of the game. They had a chance to change a familiar tune, having started 0-1 every season under Jay Gruden, and caught a tough break with the fumble ruling. The Redskins were already in a bad position, however, one they created all by themselves.
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