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Vertical Passing Game Returns


LANDOVER, Md. -- The passing numbers in the first half of Sunday's game weren't his best. Sam Bradford completed half of his 10 attempts, but he picked up just 75 yards through the air. Just as it looked like the offense was spinning its wheels and headed for another down game, the Eagles opened up the offense and starting taking deep shots.

Bradford was on the money, time and time again, as his three touchdown passes helped the Eagles climb out of a first-half deficit to take a 20-16 before eventually falling 23-20 to the Redskins thanks to a last-minute touchdown on Sunday at FedEx Field. He hit on deep passes of 45 yards to Nelson Agholor, 62 yards to Riley Cooper and 39 yards to Miles Austin. The latter two finished in the end zone.

The vertical strikes were a welcomed addition to an Eagles offense that had not been able to hit on many big plays through the first three games.

"We thought we had it early, but we just weren't protecting it well," head coach Chip Kelly said after the game. "When we had the opportunity to protect it, then we had the opportunity to hit it. We had one to Nelson early, then we had one to Coop and Miles. … We ended up protecting it better in the second half."

Both Bradford and Cooper echoed the thoughts from their head coach, explaining why the big vertical passing plays where there on Sunday.

"You guys act like we don't want to throw the ball down the field. I think we saw something that we could take advantage of this week, and we called a couple of plays trying to hit those posts." Bradford said. "Any time that you can get big plays like that, they're kind of game-changers and momentum-changers. I think the one to Coop in the third quarter really got us going. It brought some energy to that sideline."

"We've done nothing different, been doing the same thing for four weeks, but the defense allowed that to happen," Cooper said. "It's nothing that we're doing special. We're just playing our game, but we did nothing different."

Cooper also noted that one of the main reasons why the Eagles' receivers were able to sneak by was because of Jordan Matthews drawing extra attention in the slot.

"When he's running across the middle of the field, there are multiple eyes on Jordan." Cooper said. "That lets you get behind on those deep balls. The safeties are kind of shifting over and covering those crossing routes that Jordan runs so well."

The deep passes to Cooper and Austin both came in the second half as the Eagles looked to erase a 13-0 halftime deficit. Agholor's big one-handed grab came in the first half, and according to the wide receiver, it's a credit to the hard work he and the rest of the offense are putting in.

"The ball got thrown deep and we made plays. I wish we would have made more," Agholor said. "We're doing well every day in practice. I thought we practiced really hard and we gutted it out with a great week of practice, and we came out here and we tried to execute the things that we practiced.

"We just keep getting one step closer, but at the end of the day, what's going to define us is how we respond again. You do more on the practice field than you do in the game. The whole world sees the game, but we're developing as football players every day. Soon, things are going to go the right way."

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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