For the Eagles' defense, Sunday's game was a battle of ups and downs. On the one hand, they had a few crucial stops and made several big plays. But they also didn't do enough to stop quarterback Robert Griffin III and the Redskins offense from putting up 27 points in the Eagles' final home game of the season.
"I think overall everybody fought hard," said defensive end Brandon Graham following the 27-20 outcome at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. "We fought hard to the end. We made the big play at the end when we needed (it). We just came up short today."
In the teams' first meeting in Week 11, Griffin III finished 14-of-15 for 200 yards and four touchdowns which resulted in a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He also had a game-high 84 yards on the ground in that affair. While he didn't take off and run as much this time, the Redskins did not run a conventional offense. Griffin III was able to utilize rollouts and play-action passes to keep the defense on its toes.
"They weren't really drop-back passing on us a lot," Graham said. "They were gashing us on the run a little bit so that was opening a lot more of the quick stuff. Play-action this, play-action that. It was quick. There are no excuses, we just have to get there. We just came up short today."
This time around, Griffin III completed 16 of his 24 pass attempts for two touchdowns and an interception. The Eagles also got Griffin III to the ground for a sack. With the Redskins on their own 20-yard line, the Eagles blitzed cornerback Brandon Boykin, who sacked Griffin III and forced a fumble. Though the Redskins recovered, the play set them up with a long field and they went three-and-out.
The turnover came early in the fourth quarter. Safety Colt Anderson netted what was the first Eagles' first interception in nine games on a deep pass down the middle of the field intended for Redskins wide receiver Josh Morgan. Anderson's first-career interception set up a 17-yard Dion Lewis touchdown run that brought the Eagles within seven points.
"It was a long time coming," said linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who registered four total tackles including one for loss. "I was happy to see it. Colt came down with it. It was a great play for us. I was happy to see Colt go up and get it. It was good defense."
This improvement over the Redskins' offense may look nice in writing, but don't try convincing Anderson of its value.
"You can't even judge that," said Anderson, who finished with five tackles. "The only way you're successful is if you win the game. We lost the game. We didn't make enough plays."
Despite the big plays on defense, the story ended much the way it had in recent weeks. The Eagles allowed four passes of more than 20 yards and only sacked Griffin III once. And while the Eagles again held the opposition without a 100-yard rusher, the Redskins combined for 128 yards on the ground. Still, the players believe in themselves and understand they still have one more week – against the Giants, nonetheless - to put on film what they can do.
"We have the pieces in place," Ryans said. "We just have to play smarter, that's one thing. We have to play smarter, create turnovers and make bigger plays."
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