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Final Drive A Learning Point For Defense


LANDOVER, Md. -- With 6:05 left on the fourth quarter clock, the Eagles' defense took the field looking to hold the Washington Redskins out of the end zone one last time. If they could do that, they'd travel back to Philadelphia with a 2-2 record and two straight wins in a division that is up for the taking.

Instead, the defense, which has been such a strong point for the Eagles through the first quarter of the season, couldn't come up with that one final big play, and Washington drove 90 yards for what would be the game-winning touchdown.

The drive, which drained 5:39 of game time off of the clock, featured a steady mix of both run and pass, a pair of costly penalties on the Eagles and was capped off by a 4-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to Pierre Garcon.

"Credit goes to them. They made the plays on that last drive to get the in the end zone," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said after the game. "I don't want to take anything away from them. They made plays.

"They had a lot of clock to work with, so they used it. The run and pass were both options for them. They had a long 15-play drive, and they made more plays than we did."

On the final play of the driving, ultimately the dooming play for the Eagles, rookie cornerback Eric Rowe broke on the ball and stuck Garcon with a nice hit in an attempt to knock the ball loose, but he was just a hair too late.

"I should have known that they weren't going to throw the ball to the running back. He was there to clear me out," Rowe said. "I feel like I had a good jump, but I could have had a better jump because right when the ball was snapped he looked right at Pierre. He's there main player and in crunch time they need him to make a play. I should have jumped it earlier."

Prior to that last drive, the Eagles had only allowed the Redskins to find the end zone once, which came on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Cousins. Brandon Graham also forced a fumble that was recovered by Jordan Hicks, marking the 10th straight game that the Eagles have forced a turnover. Still, it all came down to that final drive.

"It's a tough position to be in defensively, but you've just got to find a way to make a stop," said safety Malcolm Jenkins.  "I think execution was the issue. That was the first time that they ran the ball more than we would have liked. They got a few plays with the run and then a couple of third-down conversions on third-and-short, and then a couple of penalties to extend the drive. That will take you 90 yards right there."

Now, the Eagles find themselves as 1-3, an identical record to where they were in 2013 before they turned things around and made a run to the NFC East championship. Sunday's loss may be a tough pill to swallow, but it's a learning point for the defense, and the team overall, and it presents another opportunity for the team to turn the corner and move in the right direction.

"We collectively have to look at it and see where we can get better and then go to work to get better, not hang our heads," said Davis. "I'll take that scenario every time, where we have to make the play. Tonight, we didn't make the play. Credit goes to them, but we're not going to hang our heads. We're going to keep fighting and getting better."

The extreme weather couldn't keep the Eagles from traveling to Washington for their Week 4 match up. View the full gallery here...

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