LANDOVER, Md. --Despite it all -- the poor start, the missed field goal and then PAT by the new kicker, a defense that had trouble getting off the field on third down combined with a spate of injuries, the Eagles had control of the football game at a time when team needed to put it away.
First down, 50-yard line, 7:32 remaining in the fourth quarter with a four-point lead. Coaches need their teams to take advantage of that situation, put points on the board and salt a game away. The Eagles didn't do that. Instead, they had a three-and-out series and punted the football away, not to see it again until there were 26 seconds remaining on the clock with Washington leading 23-20, which turned out to be the final score.
Washington took that final offensive possession and drove 90 yards on 15 plays to score the winning points.
"Very disappointing," said quarterback Sam Bradford, who had three touchdown passes in the second half. "Obviously at that time we felt like we had all the momentum and we should go down and score and put the game away. We just didn't do it."
On that three-and-out series, the Eagles opened with a 3-yard run from running back DeMarco Murray. Then Bradford completed a pass to Darren Sproles for a 2-yard gain. On third-and-5, Bradford's pass over the middle to wide receiver Jordan Matthews was defended well by safety Kyshoen Jarrett and the Eagles punted the football away.
Washington's ensuing possession and went 90 yards on 15 plays, ending with a Kirk Cousins touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon to score the winning points with 26 seconds remaining on the clock.
That has been the common theme from the first quarter of the season: The offense hasn't put anything together on a consistent basis and it has cost the Eagles big time. The defense, in this instance, didn't get off the field as the Redskins marched down the field to win the game.
"Bottom line is our defense plays good enough and our offense struggles with the ball and we don't do our job," a frustrated Jason Kelce said. "That's been the thing since the beginning of the season. That's been exactly what has stalled out our offense since the beginning of the season all the way through these first four games. We don't run the ball when we need to and we don't pass block when we need to and it's a disgrace right now."
The extreme weather couldn't keep the Eagles from traveling to Washington for their Week 4 match up. View the full gallery here...
The loss dropped the Eagles to 1-3, with all three losses coming in the NFC and two within the NFC East. This was particularly galling. Washington jumped out to a 13-0 lead at halftime as the Eagles gained all of four first downs and twice missed scoring chances inside Washington territory. Midway through the second quarter, down by 13 points, the Eagles showed a heartbeat. Bradford completed a 45-yard pass down the seam to wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who made a spectacular one-handed catch and the Eagles had a first down at the Washington 30-yard line.
On the very next play, though, head coach Chip Kelly tried some razzle dazzle and it didn't work. Bradford handed off to running back Ryan Mathews, who tried to toss the ball to Agholor on the reverse. But the exchange wasn't clean and the ball bounced off of Agholor and Washington recovered, ending the threat.
Later in the quarter, Sproles ripped off a 45-yard punt return to the Washington 30-yard line and three plays later the Eagles had a first-and-10 situation at the Washington 11-yard line. Bradford threw complete in the end zone for tight end Zach Ertz, who made a diving catch. Touchdown! Uh, no. Agholor was penalized for illegal formation and then Bradford was sacked a couple of plays later. New placekicker Caleb Sturgis came on to try a 33-yard field goal on the final play of the half and missed it left.
The Eagles came out a different team in the third quarter. Bradford attacked the deep middle of the Redskins' secondary, and connected with wide receiver Riley Cooper on a 62-yard touchdown to open the half. Sturgis, though, missed the PAT, and the Eagles trailed 13-6.
They tied things up on the next possession as Bradford went to tight end Brent Celek for 10 yards and a score. Sturgis kicked the PAT and the game was tied.
After a Washington field goal, the Eagles took the lead early in the fourth quarter on another over-the-top Bradford throw, this time 39 yards to wide receiver Miles Austin after Brandon Graham forced a turnover with a strip of tight end Jordan Reed.
And that set up the rest of the fourth quarter, a very disappointing one at that. The scoreless first half was the Eagles' third full half without a point in four games -- the Eagles have trailed by a combined 39-3 at halftime of their three losses -- and the defense couldn't get off the field on third down, allowing Washington to convert 9-of-17 third downs.
The running game was unproductive once again -- Murray gained 36 yards on 8 carries, his first of which went for 30 yards, and Mathews had 20 yards on 5 attempts -- and Bradford was sacked five times.
There were some bright spots, for sure: The deep passing game came to life, with four passing plays of 30-plus yards and a makeshift offensive line -- Matt Tobin at left tackle, Allen Barbre at left guard, Kelce at center, Dennis Kelly at right guard and Lane Johnson at right tackle -- gave Bradford some time for most of the second half.
It is the bottom line, though, that had the Eagles so bummed in the FedEx Field locker room after the game: A 1-3 record with three conference losses and two in the NFC Eagles makes for heavy pulling to get out. Combine that with a long list of injuries -- Peters and cornerback Byron Maxwell left the game on Sunday early with quad injuries, linebacker Mychal Kendricks departed with a hamstring injury, defensive end Brandon Bair left with a groin injury and none returned, joining defensive linemen Cedric Thornton (broken hand) and Taylor Hart (shoulder) as very questionable for Sunday's game against New Orleans.
"We just have to keep playing hard and knowing that we're going to turn this around," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "It's a long season. We haven't played well enough early here, but we're not going to stop. It's disappointing to be in this position. We have only ourselves to blame. We didn't get off the field on third down as a defense. We weren't consistent. We had too many penalties (eight for 72 lost yards as a team) and here we are at 1-3."