LANDOVER | This was no blowout, not your typical loss where Washington Redskins fans bemoaned the future of the franchise. Rookies ruled the day, from quarterback Dwayne Haskins to new No. 1 receiver Terry McLaurin to receiver and return specialist Steven Sims Jr.
But players like linebacker Ryan Anderson were not thinking about the ramifications of those youngsters’ development, nor about what it meant to get “close.” To Anderson, the defense hadn’t held up its end of the bargain.
“In this business, man, it’s about winning,” Anderson said. “It’s about getting wins and that’s what you get judged off of. So it’s good that people are progressing, but you’ve got to win right now. That’s the nature of this beast.”
Carson Wentz connected with Greg Ward for a game-winning 4-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left. Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham returned a Haskins fumble for a touchdown on the last play of the game to pad the score.
The FedEx Field stands were patterned in shades of green and red, representing not the Christmas season but an invasion of Eagles fans that was on par for this Redskins season. The opponent’s fight song, “Fly, Eagles, Fly,” popped up after the game-winning touchdown and Eagles fans chanted as they walked down the concourses, victorious.
Philadelphia netted 415 yards of offense, led by running back Miles Sanders, who gained 122 yards on the ground and scored a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown.
“He’s a starting running back in the National Football League. All of them are here for a reason,” Anderson said. “We just got to do a better job of playing defense. Got to tackle him and get him down.”
Haskins’ last-second turnover aside, he finished 19-for-28 for a career-high 261 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Haskins credited offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell for his game plan and didn’t put much stock into some observers calling Sunday Haskins’ “breakout” game.
“That should be an average game for me,” Haskins said. “(I’ll) continue to work on it and get better. Even though we came up short, we did a lot of good things I thought we can continue to work on for next week and bring in for the last home game of the season, and hopefully that comes out with a win.”
Four of the Eagles’ five scoring drives went at least 75 yards, the first of which resulted in a field goal to open scoring. Washington responded with a score on its very next play, when Haskins connected with McLaurin over the middle. The third-round draft pick broke one tackle and sprinted downfield for a 75-yard touchdown.
It was call-and-response scoring like that the rest of the game, with nine total lead changes. Haskins’ second touchdown was a 5-yard toss to Sims Jr., the undrafted rookie, who expertly got both feet down in-bounds in the back of the end zone. That gave Washington a 14-10 lead it would take into halftime.
For Wentz, who threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns, Sunday was one of his best performances of the year. In the third quarter, he scrambled to the right out of a collapsing pocket and rifled a touchdown pass to Sanders in the back corner of the end zone.
On the first play of the fourth, Washington moved ahead 21-17 when Adrian Peterson ran left to find a wall of men, bounced right and scampered in for a 10-yard score. He tied Walter Payton for fourth all-time with his 110th career rushing touchdown.
“It was a play that kind of broke down front-side,” Peterson said. “I knew, I tried to make something happen. I was able to bounce it back to the backside and Terry, he did a great job on his block, when you talk about finishing plays.”
Again, the Eagles answered with a touchdown and regained the lead, but Washington’s Dustin Hopkins was able to make field goals of 53 and 43 yards during the fourth quarter. The Redskins’ had the field position for the second Hopkins kick because Anderson forced Wentz to fumble at the Eagles’ own 33.
Peterson said he was sure the coaches considered going for it on fourth and 1 on that drive instead of settling for three points.
“But our defense is stellar,” Peterson added. “They’ve been playing amazing all year. We just kind of broke towards the end once they got us in the red zone.”
Wentz led Philadelphia on an 11-play, 75-yard drive ending in Ward’s touchdown. Ward caught it over Josh Norman, who entered the game only as the defense’s apparent final option after Jimmy Moreland and Fabian Moreau left with injuries.
Redskins interim coach Bill Callahan offered little analysis of the loss beyond a lack of playmaking when the game was on the line. He praised everyone for playing hard for 60 minutes.
“There’s not much more I can ask of our team,” Callahan said.
McLaurin finished with five catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. Asked if it was his most complete game as a pro, he said he believed so, “but it has to result in wins, obviously.
“We connected a lot today, forcing turnovers, made some big plays, but it just wasn’t enough,” McLaurin said. “We got to finish games better and that goes on everybody. I felt like we got some momentum throughout the game and we even finished just a little better. Just wasn’t enough.”
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.