LANDOVER, Md. --All week Bill Davis had heard the questions: How would the Eagles step up against Robert Griffin III, Washington's star quarterback, along with a running game that last year led the NFL in per-game average?
What would the Eagles unveil after a preseason that wasn't, quite frankly, up to par?
Turns out, Davis held back plenty in the preseason. His defense then went out and showed plenty in Monday night's 33-27 win over Washington.
The Eagles unleased a barrage of inside blitzes, some timely pressure from the secondary, and swarmed the football to shut down the Redskins and RGIII untl the late going, when a 33-7 lead evaporated far too much in the fourth quarter.
"I tried to mix it up and I think we did a good job executing our technique and the things we wanted to do," said Davis. "The most gratifying part of this whole thing was that the player and the techniques that they've been working on, and the assistant coaches who have been drilling them, it all showed up. We did a nice job against their run game, had some pressure, caused some turnovers and had the points down for the longest time there until it got a little loose there.
"You win a division game on the road and it's like a win and a half."
Washington's running game generated just 74 yards on 18 carries. RGIII passed for 329 yards and two touchdowns, but he had just 53 passing yards in the first half, tossed a pair of interceptions and was sacked three times.
"We came out and played aggressive football," said cornerback Cary Williams, who had a stellar game with a spectacular, diving interception, a quarterback sack and a key pass breakup in the fourth quarter. "It was time to go out and make it count, and we did that."
There were plenty of standouts on the defensive side of the football. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks led the team with 10 total tackles and was a force against the run. Trent Cole dominated as a stand-up linebacker and hand-in-the-dirt end and forced an Alfred Morris fumble on Washington's first play from scrimmage. DeMeco Ryans and Fletcher Cox had sacks. Brandon Boykin registered a huge interception early as the Eagles had two takeaways and a safety on the Redskins' opening three possessions.
Griffin wasn't at his best after missing all of the preseason following knee surgery, and the Eagles jumped all over him and Washington's offense.
"Big boost," said Davis. "Hopefully this defense throughout the year breaks the rhythm of offenses and causes turnovers. It was a nice start with the turnovers.
"I love it. I love it. We got a win on the road in the division. No matter how it came out. I don't care if we gave up 500 yards and 40 points. If we came out of here with a win, it was going to be a good night," said Davis. "The bonus is that the defense played better than expected. It is a starting point. We've got to get better than what we were tonight."
Davis knows that the opener was a "building block" and that the Eagles need to carry forth the momentum when San Diego visits Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. Davis played everybody on defense and everyone contributed.
Now it's on to the next step.
"We gained some confidence," said Cole. "To come in here and beat the Redskins, it's the way we wanted to start the season."