PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For two division foes with a history of close games, the rivalry between the Eagles and Redskins has been a bit one-sided in recent years.
Washington has won its last five meetings with the Eagles, including a season sweep of last year’s series. the Eagles will open their season in Washington on Sunday and will have an opportunity to get their season off on the right foot with a road win against a division foe. They will also have a chance to end their recent struggles against Washington. For Head Coach Doug Pederson, it’s the perfect way to start the season.
“This is a good football team,” said Pederson. “It’s a tough place to play. Crowd can get juiced up. They play well at that home stadium. Division opponent, on the road, Washington Redskins, season opener. It has everything you want to start the year.”
Carson Wentz suffered the second loss of his NFL career in Washington last season as the Eagles fell, 27-20. The Eagles would suffer a 27-22 loss to the Redskins at the Linc later in the season. The second-year quarterback is eager for redemption after two close defeats a year ago at the hands of their division rivals.
“The losses are frustrating,” Wentz said. “You go back and watch the tape from last year and you realize we didn’t play to well but at the end of those games, we were right there. I remember the last drives in each of those games just coming up short, but it’s a new season.”
Lane Johnson is another Eagle who is hoping to flip the script in Washington on Sunday, but the offensive tackle has extra motivation. Johnson was forced to sit out against Washington last year due to a suspension and could only watch helplessly as his teammates went down to defeat. It is part of what motivates Johnson as he heads into Sunday’s opener.
“It still affects me today,” said Johnson. “It motivates me to go out and play even harder this year. It’s what I look forward to.”
Even though it is only week one, Pederson believes a win on the road against a division rival can set the tone for the season. It could also put an early dent in any hopes for Washington to contend for a division crown. Some Eagles are using the losing streak against the Redskins as motivation. Others are looking to turn the page and believe a new season means a clean slate against Washington. However, it is quite clear veterans such as Brent Celek are tired of losing to the Redskins.
“It’s a division game against a team that beat us the last five times,” Celek said. “It’s going to be a big game for us. Real big.”