LANDOVER, Md. --The Washington Redskins did all of their huffing and puffing prior to Monday night's NFC East game against the Eagles. It took Philadelphia less than one quarter to blow the Redskins' house down. Michael Vick led a clinic on offense and the defense shut down Donovan McNabb's offense as the Eagles built a 28-point lead on the way to a 59-28 win.
It was a pefectly-orchastrated performance, a video game that came to life. Michael Vick completed his first 9 passes for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns and added a 7-yard touchdown run as the Eagles stretched their lead to 35-0 one play into the second quarter before the Redskins scored a touchdown. Up and down the field the Eagles went, tearing apart the Redskins defense. The offensive gameplan was something to behold -- the Eagles script their 15 plays and in that time they scored four touchdowns, all in spectacular fashion.
The fun started on the first play from scrimmage, the 12-yard line. Vick faked a handoff to running back LeSean McCoy and rolled left. He planted and launched a strike to DeSean Jackson running free on a post route. Jackson released away from cornerback DeAngelo Hall and then got a step on safety LaRon Landry. The ball landed on his fingertips and Jackson sprinted into the end zone for the 88-yard score, the longest on the first play from scrimmage in a game in Eagles history.
It was an especially-impactful moment for Jackson, who was involved in pre-game encounter with Landry, and then later with Hall. The Eagles paid both defenders back during the game by torching the Redskins secondary.
After the defense forced a three-and-out series from the Washington offense -- the Redskins did not gain a first down in the quarter and netted just 23 yards in 15 minutes -- the offense was back at it. A completion to Jason Avant gained 15 yards. A double reverse handoff to Jeremy Maclin picked up 11 yards and a first down at the Washington 37-yard line. McCoy gained 3 yards, and then he came back with a 27-yard gain on a well-executed screen pass to the right side of the field.
Vick ended the drive with a 7-yard run, and a dive into the end zone, and it was 14-0 with more to come.
Rookie Kurt Coleman picked off McNabb on the next possession, and the Eagles drove 37 yards on 6 plays to score on a shovel pass to McCoy. The ridiculous nature of the game grew on the Eagles' next possession when Jerome Harrison zigged and zagged 50 yards for a touchdown and a 28-0 advantage as the first quarter ended. A couple of plays into the second quarter, Maclin made a leaping grab for a touchdown over Hall, stretching the advantage to 35-0.
"It was like a video game out there," said offensive tackle Winston Justice. "When you have someone like Michael, that's the way the offense can be."
Said wide receiver Jason Avant: "The guy is unreal. How do you defend him when we have everything going? I have not seen anything like that. It was so much fun out there."
The Redskins made it mildly interesting with a pair of touchdowns to close the gap to 35-14, but then Dimitri Patterson intercepted McNabb and the Eagles drove 28 yards on 5 plays, ending on Vick's 6-yard touchdown run.
In case you are counting, Vick accounted for 5 touchdowns in the first half -- passes to Jackson, McCoy and Maclin, and the pair of scoring runs -- in one of the most dominating performances in the history of this franchise.
How? Why? Sometimes, you just don't have answers. The script, put together by Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, was outstanding and the exection was crisp. The Eagles gained 425 total net yards in the first half alone, sending the Eagles' media relations department, the official record checkers, deep into the books to accurately categorize the depth of the staggering numbers.
The best part was the variety of ways the Eagles attacked Washington's defense with different formations and matchup creations. The Eagles spread the field and attacked the middle. They went after Washington with their superior quickness on the edges. They were able to free Jackson on the first play from scrimmage after Washington basically eliminated the deep pass in the October meeting.
It was pure brilliance from an X's and O's standpoint.
At the end of the long night, the Eagles moved to 6-3 and into a tie with the Giants atop the NFC East, setting up Sunday night's showdown for first place. With a short week to prepare, the Eagles were able to go deep into the bench in the second half and give the starters a few reps off, well deserved after the impressive performance.
Vick, of course, became the big story just as he has been since he stepped on the field in the second half of the opening game against Green Bay. He has developed so much as a pocket quarterback who just happens to run a 4.3 40-yard dash complete with ankle-breaking moves in the open field. With Vick on the field, and with the offensive line providing a secure pocket, the Eagles have as balanced and as lethal an attack as they have ever had.
Defensively, the Eagles have shut down the run for five straight games, winning the battle at the line of scrimmage. Patterson has played very well in place of Ellis Hobbs for two starts and Coleman stepped in for Nate Allen and showed he is very, very capable.
What a night! A day that began with major implications -- it opened the second half of the season, with NFC East positioning at stake -- heightened when McNabb signed his contract extension with the Redskins. How would that signing change things? It was certainly the talk of the stadium in the hours before the kickoffs.
Then the teams clashed on the field prior to the kickoff and the tension increased. Opening the game with an 88-yard touchdown pass to Jackson -- just the way the coaches drew it up, as they say -- gashed the Redskins and they never recovered.
It was a night to remember, and just as quickly, it is a night to forget. The big, bad Giants wait, an outstanding all-around team that comes to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday night intent on taking control of the division.
*NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT *
- Newcomer Colt Anderson made, by my count, four special teams tackles in the first half. Excellent pickup by the Eagles in a pinch.
- Nick Cole started at right guard in place of Max Jean-Gilles and was part of a brilliant performance by the offensive line in both the passing game and in the running game. Great, great job by the offensive line, and they will need to be even better against the Giants.
- Super contribution from running back Jerome Harrison, who had the tremendous 50-yard touchdown run. He was another smart acquisition by general manager Howie Roseman and his crew. Mike Bell, by the way, has 35 yards in his time with the Eagles and Cleveland. Harrison finished with 109 yards on 11 carries.
- Who starts at right cornerback when Hobbs is all the way healthy? Patterson has been a real plus for the defense in his two starts. He had two interceptions, one that he returned for a touchdown.
- A big hand to SAM linebacker Moise Fokou, who has been extremely solid in his time as a starter. Fokou is definitely a much-improved player at that position. Coach Bill Shuey has done a nice job with the linebackers.
- Vick became the first player in NFL history to have 3 passing TDs and 2 rushing touchdowns in the first half of a game. That's how sublime the game was. The Eagles buzzed Washington at will. And he became the first player to have 4 TD throws, 2 TD runs, 300 passing yards and 50 rushing yards in a game. Unbelievable.
- Underrated but very good outing by the defensive line. Trevor Laws had a sack and Darryl Tapp was extremely active.
- Finally, did anyone hear Brian Orakpo's name all night? Great job by left tackle Jason Peters. For all you complaining about his game, remember a night like this.