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In Defeat, Redskins Make a Play For Respect

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PHILADELPHIA – They didn't deserve to have it end this way.

With 65 seconds left and his last pass falling short of its target, Jason Campbell was hurled to the turf at Lincoln Financial Field and there he lay, stunned and awkwardly sprawled.

The Redskins would soon assume a similar pose.

They fell 27-24 to the Philadelphia Eagles, undone by two late scoring drives. Having fallen like this, who knows if they will be able to get up?

David Akers' 32-yard field goal with 1:48 left put the Eagles (7-4) over the top and allowed them to win for the second consecutive week by coming from behind. The Redskins lost by falling from ahead for the second consecutive week.

The Redskins (3-8) led 24-16 after three quarters but gave up a 1-yard touchdown run to Eldra Buckley to cap a 90-yard drive and could not stop LeShon McCoy on a shovel pass for the two-point conversion.

Philadelphia's skittish offense then pushed 66 yards the next time it had the ball and Akers made his fourth field goal to give the Eagles a sweep of the season series with the Redskins.

It should not have ended this way.

A denuded Redskins roster played above its head much of the time. The offense scored on its first drive for only the third time this season. The Redskins led by eight in the final quarter. How tasty would this upset have been?

The lack of respect the Eagles showed their opponents spoke of arrogance and bravado, which perhaps they needed to gin up for the sake of their own flagging confidence.

They opened the game by winning the coin toss but deferring the choice to the second half. The Redskins opted for the ball and got it in fortuitous field position. Why? The Eagles attempted an onsides kick.

Yes, an onsides kick. Talk about a slap upside the helmet or a hostile yank of the facemask. It's insulting.

The Eagles, however, mucked it up. They were guilty of touching the ball before it went 10 yards and could not, then, have recovered it legally. The ball hopped into the hands of Quinton Ganther, who returned 25 yards to the Philadelphia 19.

The Redskins, who had scored only twice on their opening drive this season, reveled in the short field. Campbell scored on a 1-yard run and the Redskins led 7-0.

Chastened? Not the Eagles. They rolled down the field, got to the Redskins 5 and brought Michael Vick in to run the Wildcat. Vick rushed for four yards. On third and one, Donovan McNabb threw incomplete. So the Eagles went for it on fourth down. Went for it. Against the NFL's No. 1 defense against the pass. And did it passing.

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McNabb hit a wide-open DeSean Jackson for a seeming touchdown but he was only open because tight end Brent Celek picked the defender, drawing a penalty for offensive pass interference. Backed up to the 11, the Eagles kicked a field goal.

They showed the same cheek on the next drive. Third and one? In comes Vick again, only to be stuffed. So the Eagles went for it again on fourth down. Leonard Weaver's 2-yard dive extended the series and three plays later McNabb, rolling left, found an uncovered Jackson in the end zone for a touchdown and a 10-7 lead.

Maybe there's no need to honor a team missing four Pro Bowl players. Maybe the Eagles felt a need to stoke their egos. Whether or not they wanted to respect the Redskins, the Redskins seemed determine to drag it out of them.

Despite the patched-up offensive line and a running back rotation consisting of Rock Cartwright, Ganther and Marcus Mason, the Redskins kept their poise.

They took advantage of Philly's undersized defensive front by running the ball early in each possession (on six of their first nine first down calls). They converted their third downs. Campbell stayed patient and mixed big-time throws down the field with the usual array of checkdowns and short stuff.

Then came the deluge. The mistakes, both physical and mental. Campbell's first interception came with cornerback Asante Samuel jumping in and returning the ball to the Washington 21. On the Redskins' next possession, head coach Jim Zorn called a timeout with 28 seconds left in the half, facing a third-and-eight from his own 37.

Wouldn't it be enough to try to kill the clock and get off the field? Apparently not. They wanted to go for the throat and instead got something stuck in their own.

Campbell and Devin Thomas misread a route, Samuel intercepted and returned it 17 yards and David Akers booted a 41 yard field goal three seconds before the half.

Then, adding insult to the presumed injuries, the Eagles' Trent Cole slammed Campbell to the turf on the final play of the half and the Eagles walked off with a 16-14 lead. It was a scenario to be repeated later but by Juqua Parker.

"I thought before the half we could get an opportunity for a field goal," Zorn said. "We were moving it."

The interceptions stung and undid much of what the beleaguered Campbell achieved.

"The first one, he forced it. The second one, he was throwing to Devin Thomas and Asante Samuel came right off Santana Moss and got a pick," Zorn said. "I have a hard time faulting the QB on that one."

Maybe those two throws by Campbell were aberrations. Perhaps the real Campbell is the one who reemerged in the second half, scrambling and rolling away from trouble to complete big passes.

An 80-yard touchdown drive involved only six yards rushing while Campbell pitched 29 yards to Fred Davis and 35 to Thomas to get the Redskins in position to score. Then he bolted right and threw back across his body to Davis for a 10-yard touchdown and a 21-16 lead.

And maybe not. He missed a wide-open Antwaan Randle El on a seam route that would have gone 64 yards for a touchdown. This on a first down with a play set up by the Redskins' using running plays on six consecutive first downs.

It should not have ended this way. Yet a mountain of erasers won't change a thing.

"Beyond frustrating," Zorn said.

Want respect? Go out and grab it. Limit the explosiveness of a Jackson with physical play. Other than losing him on the touchdown pass, the Redskins allowed him one catch for six yards before knocking him out of the game in the third quarter.

Do not succumb late. This defense seems to yearn to protect a lead, so rarely does it see one. Yet when those opportunities arise (here, in Dallas, at Carolina in what seems like another lifetime), there's failure.

Too often, this is how it ends. Nine consecutive road losses. Four consecutive division losses. The guarantee of a second consecutive non-winning season and the virtual guarantee of no playoff football.

Games have been there to be won and were lost. There's more pity in this one than shame. The Redskins made a real grab for respect and earned that, if not a victory.


Larry Weisman covered professional football for USA TODAY for 25 years and now joins the Redskins Broadcast Network and Redskins.com to bring his unique viewpoint and experience to Redskins fans. Go to Redskins.com for the Redskins Blitz column and NFL Blitz on Friday. Larry also appears on The Jim Zorn Show on WRC-TV on Saturday night, on Redskins Nation, airing twice nightly on Comcast SportsNet, and on ESPN 980 AM radio, all in the Washington, D.C. area. Read his blog at redskinsrule.com and follow him on Twitter.com/LarryWeisman.

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