PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It seemed a matter of time before the anomaly was going to dissolve. Though in the time it lasted, it was one powerfully scary aberration.
The woeful Washington were pounding the Eagles in every phase of Sunday’s season opener. Whether it was the Eagles’ starters finding their legs after no preseason time of live hitting or simply Washington being, well, Washington, the Birds somehow managed to prevail, 32-27, thanks to a pair of long Carson Wentz-to-DeSean Jackson touchdown passes at Lincoln Financial Field.
But before anyone gets too cozy and books an early February trip to Miami for Super Bowl LIV, they better remember how the Eagles struggled mightily in the first half — when they trailed 17-0.
Jackson had an amazing return wearing midnight green, catching eight passes for 154 yards and TD scores of 51 and 53 yards.
Wentz completed 28 of 39 passes for 313 yards and three TDs while targeting eight different receivers.
After going up 20-7 on a 48-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal with one second left in the half, Washington was never able to stop the Eagles’ 25-point onslaught.
A gaping concern this season was first quarters.
It’s still an issue.
In 2018, the Eagles averaged 3.2 points in the first quarter, which ranked No. 31 in the NFL, with the Jacksonville Jaguars the only team averaging fewer, averaging 2.6. In 2017, the season the Eagles won the Super Bowl, they averaged 6.4 points in the first quarter, which was second in the NFL behind the Los Angeles Rams (7.0).
After the first quarter Sunday, the Eagles trailed 10-0 and were outgained 147 to 28, which averaged out to 8.6 yards a play to the Eagles’ paltry 3.1.
Washington scored on its first three possessions, going up 17-0, with 10:07 left in the half.
But it is, after all, Washington. It wouldn’t last — and it didn’t.
The Eagles outscored them 32-10 the rest of the way.
* Defensive end Brandon Graham’s great read on a 3rd-and-6 in with 3:29 left in the first quarter on Washington’s second drive. Graham took down Vernon Davis for a four-yard loss, pushing Washington back to the 23. Washington had to settle for a 41-yard field goal with 2:51 left in the quarter. It was the first good play of the Eagles’ 2019 season.
* Jackson’s 51-yard TD reception with 4:27 left in the half and a 53-yard TD in the third quarter. He caught eight passes for 154 yards. He moved into second all-time in NFL history with his 30th and 31st career touchdowns of at least 50 yards. It was Jackson first game in the midnight green since Dec. 29, 2013.
— CBS Philly (@CBSPhilly) September 8, 2019
* Wentz finding Alshon Jeffery with a five-yard TD pass with 7:50 left in the third quarter. The drive took 12 plays, covered 75 yards and chewed up 7:10. More importantly, the series kept the Eagles’ defense off the field, which, after the first half, was a welcomed benefit.
* Jeffery scored two touchdowns — one on a two-yard run and the other on a five-yard TD reception.
* Ronald Darby’s dropped interception with 5:25 left in the first quarter. The following play, Case Keenum hit Trey Quinn for 14 yards on a 3rd-and-7 at the Eagles’ 37. It was the third-straight third-down conversion Washington converted. Washington ended the drive on a 41-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead.
* The Doug Pederson call on 3rd-and-1 at Eagles’ 34 with 8:34 left in the half. A pitch to Darren Sproles was stopped for a two-yard loss.
* The Eagles in the first quarter. They couldn’t do anything right. Washington held a 10-0 lead, garnered 147 yards of total offense, to the Eagles’ 28, and averaged 8.6 yards a play to the Eagles’ paltry 3.1.
* The Eagles’ first-half defense permitted Washington to score on four of its six possessions in the first half, taking a 20-7 lead into halftime. Washington converted five of eight third-down plays and racked up 278 yards to the Eagles’ 134.
* This falls under the classic definition of “ugly!” Andrew Sendejo, Darby and Rodney McLeod all whiffing on Vernon Davis’ 48-yard TD reception on Washington’s first drive. The play was an example of what not to do when three players converge on a lone ball carrier running down the sideline.
* The Eagles’ defense on the first series of the game. The Eagles made Keenum look like Tom Brady, allowing the veteran to complete 4 of 4 for 71 yards and a third down.
* The Eagles’ first defensive series was exceeded only by its third. Washington needed just two plays to go up 17-0 when Keenum hit Terry McLaurin with a 70-yard TD pass with 10:07 left in the half.
* Jackson getting flagged for unnecessary roughness on the Eagles’ first drive. The penalty was a dead-ball, 15-yard foul that forced the Eagles back their 29 and instead of 3rd-and-8, the Eagles were faced with a 3rd-and-17.
* Rookie receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside’s holding call negating Miles Sanders 21-yard fourth-quarter TD reception.