By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles suffered a third straight loss, and the pain that comes with each loss is growing more and more intense. With a 27-24 setback on the road against NFC East rival Washington, the Eagles now see their playoff hopes about to be flushed away.
Don’t let the stats fool you. Mark Sanchez may have thrown for 374 yards and two touchdowns, including a key scoring pass in the fourth quarter to help bring the Eagles back. But Sanchez threw a poor pass on the Eagles’ last real offensive possession that was picked off, setting Washington up for the game-winning field goal with time running out. Sanchez also lost a fumble to account for both Eagles turnovers in the loss. Grade: C
The Eagles piled up 495 yards of offense and 30 first downs, but the offense left points on the board with two red zone trips netting zero points. The Eagles found something that worked with tight end Zach Ertz too late in the game and managed just 14 points after three quarters of play. LeSean McCoy rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown. Jeremy Maclin provided another tremendous sideline effort late in the game, but he had just four catches in the game. The Birds also completed nine of 16 third-down attempts, which was not good enough on this day. Grade: C-
The defense had a rough game against Washington, although the stats may not tell the whole story. The defense was flagged for two roughing the passer penalties on a third-quarter touchdown drive by Washington, and pass interference and defensive holding calls were not uncommon either while former Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson went off for 126 yards on just four catches. The Eagles gave Washington six free first downs as a result of penalties. The defense sacked Robert Griffin III twice and intercepted him once, but the defensive woes in the secondary continued.
Mychal Kendricks had a solid outing with 10 tackles, seven solo tackles, a sack and two tackles for a loss, but there was not much more to write home about for Eagles defensive players. Chip Kelly finally pulled Cary Williams during a game due to not being able to cover his man. It was a long time coming, but it may have been too late. Grade: C-
The special teams for Philadelphia had been strong for most of the season. It was probably due for an off day, and it cost the Eagles in a big way. Rookie kicker Cody Parkey missed his first two field goal attempts, costing the Eagles six points that could have won the game. Going into the game Parkey had successfully kicked 29 of 31 field goal attempts, so it may have been the nagging groin injury that played a role in the kicking effort on Saturday. Darren Sproles had just 10 return yards on two punt returns, and Josh Huff averaged 21.7 kickoff return yards on three attempts. The special teams were unable to be a game-changer against Washington. Grade: D
The Eagles are now on the brink of being eliminated from the NFC playoff field. If the Dallas Cowboys beat the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, the Cowboys will clinch the NFC East. The evidence is there for the Eagles though. The team needs better defense. It needs better effectiveness out of the quarterback. Chip Kelly can run as many plays as he wants, but if the Eagles are losing games on the road against teams with three wins going into the next-to-last week of the season, then it is probably pretty obvious the Eagles are nowhere close to the playoff contender many thought they were before the season started or even in mid-October or November.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.