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Old Nemesis Returns For Defense

LANDOVER, Md. - An old Eagles' nemesis reared its ugly head in Washington on Sunday.

In the first meeting of the season between Philadelphia and Washington in Week 5, the Redskins converted 11-of-19 third downs en route to a six-point victory.

In the rematch on Sunday at FedEx Field, the Redskins converted just 5-of-15 of their third-down opportunities, but still came away with a 10-3 victory over the Eagles.

"I think we got off the field," cornerback Sheldon Brown said. "I haven't looked at the percentage, but the quarterback scrambled a few times. For the most part, I don't think we had that big of a problem on third down. I don't think that was the issue."

However, it wasn't how many third downs the Redskins converted but when they converted them.

Three of the Redskins' five third-down conversions came on a 16-play drive in the second quarter and another came on the game's only touchdown, which was a one-yard plunge by Washington running back Clinton Portis. Photo Gallery : PHI vs. WAS 12-21-08

The fifth one came on a third-and-12 in the fourth quarter, when Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell scrambled out of the pocket for a 19-yard gain that helped keep the clock working against the Eagles.

"They outplayed us," linebacker Chris Gocong said. "They found ways to stay on the field on third down and we couldn't stay on offensively."

Save for one drive, though, the Eagles' defense was quite stellar.

But it was one crucial drive.

With the game still scoreless in the second quarter, the Redskins got the ball at their own 14-yard line before embarking on a 16-play drive that ate up 8 minutes and 31 seconds of clock.

It only resulted in a 33-yard field goal by Washington kicker Shaun Suisham, but the Redskins showed they could sustain a drive against a stout Eagles' defense.

Washington converted only three third-downs in the first half, but all three came on that one scoring drive.

On a third-and 5 from the Eagles' 38-yard line, defensive end Darren Howard came off the left side and delivered a crushing sack on Redskins' quarterback Jason Campbell. The play would have resulted in a five-yard loss to force fourth down, but defensive end Chris Clemons was flagged for offsides, which brought a five-yard penalty and a first down.

It was the closest the Eagles got to stopping the Redskins on third down during the drive.

"It's tough," Gocong said. "We want to get them in third-and-long and blitz them. We got them in third-and-long a few times and they found a way to get off the field."

In all, Washington held the ball nearly eight minutes longer than the Eagles in the first half as the Redskins won the time-of-possession battle for the game by nearly seven minutes.

It certainly wasn't the same brand of football the Eagles had grown accustomed to playing the past few games.

"The type of football we've been playing the past couple of weeks has been championship-caliber football," Gocong said. "We didn't bring it today."

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