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By Joseph Santoliquito
Washington, DC (CBS) — The Eagles thought that they were traveling to Washington on Sunday for an NFC East game with the Redskins. It really was a trip to a parallel universe, involving two teams that mirrored each other from their records to the downward spiral both teams seem to be taking.
The gaping difference, however, is the Redskins are moving forward with a franchise quarterback and toward a bright future, while the Eagles are mired in freefall losing at a record clip.
The Eagles lost for the sixth-straight time, smoked 31-6 by Washington, and now have dropped to 3-7. It marked the first time the Eagles have lost six-straight games in a season since 1994, the Richie Kotite-coached team that lost its last seven games in finishing 7-9 (after starting that year 7-2).
“Obviously turnovers early, penalties early, drops, big plays, giving up the big plays, those were all problems for this game, listen, that’s my responsiblity to make sure we give these guys the opportunity to do the right thing, and get them to do the right thing, and I’m doing good enough at it,” Andy Reid said. “You can’t give up big plays. I don’t sense a lack of focus. I see them playing hard and focusing on in at practice. I see them at times maybe trying too hard. You can’t press and make plays.”
Nick Foles got his first NFL start and looked good at times, and his rookie inexperience surfaced during other moments. He was clearly outshined by his counterpart, Robert Griffin III, who completed his first seven passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Foles, meanwhile, threw two interceptions in his first 10 passes (the first pick may not have been Foles’ fault, since his pass deflected off the hands of Brent Celek).
Griffin had great stretches, completing his first seven, then completed his last seven straight to go 14 of 15 for 200 yards and four touchdowns, punctuating an amazing game by hitting Logan Paulsen for a 17-yard touchdown pass, and a 31-6 Redskins’ lead with 10:24 left to play.
Foles finished completing 21 of 46 passes for 204 yards, and two interceptions.
The Eagles didn’t have any recourse for Griffin nor anything else the Redskins did. Another holding penalty or blown coverage was often greeted with a lot of shrugged shoulders or upheld arms. Perhaps the most blatant was when Griffin hit wide-open Aldrick Robinson with a 49-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Griffin’s arcing rainbow had enough air under it for a defender to at least get within the vicinity of Robinson. Still, Nnamdi Asomugha was the closest Eagles’ defender and he was about 15 yards away.
Immediately following the play, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie approached Asomugha, who gestured for him to get away.
Three Eagles’ turnovers led to a 17-3 Redskins’ halftime lead. By then, the game was pretty much over. It’s followed the same course in three of the last four games, when the Eagles trailed big. Philadelphia has been outscored by a combined 72-20 in the first half since Todd Bowles took over as defensive coordinator for the deposed Juan Castillo.
Washington tried taking advantage of Foles’ rawness by blitzing. The Eagles tried offsetting that with screens. Most times, they didn’t work. The times it did work, a flag would invariably follow.
Like the Foles completion to Bryce Brown for 13 yards that was called back for a holding call on Dennis Kelly, or Brown’s 18-yard run in the second quarter that came back on a holding call by Jeremy Maclin.
“I think everyone on this team let everybody down,” Maclin said.
Washington added to its edge when Santana Moss climbed over Kurt Coleman and wrestled free from Brandon Boykin for a 61-yard touchdown. Again, Griffin put entirely too much air under the ball, but it didn’t matter. Moss went up and got it.
During another sequence after Foles was sacked with about 3:30 left in the third quarter, a number of Eagles’ offensive linemen came off the field animated and pointing fingers at one another, appearing obviously confused.
It is clear this season’s end is nearing a mathematical certainty, something that was obvious a month ago.
There was one positive—the Eagles did halt Washington on a fourth-and-inches at the Eagles’ 19 early in the fourth quarter. Then, the Eagles proceeded to go three-and-out for the second-straight series.
“Today was a rough game, I didn’t play well at all,” Foles said. “I need to do things a lot better, but I’m a guy who takes this stuff and I’m going to learn from it. I try to take the positive out of anything. I’m going to take the positives and make stuff better. I have to make better decisions and put us in a better position. We kept fighting, guys kept fighting. I just took it one play at a time, and I guess you can say I never got into a rhythm. But it comes down to execution. I made too many mistakes.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.