Check out top photos from the Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles matchup Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
FIRST IMPRESSIONSSomething had to give.
The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles entered Sunday's game at Lincoln Financial Field two very confident teams looking to get their first win in the division.
The Redskins were coming off a dominant 41-10 home victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, while the Eagles had scratched out two straight wins in which they were trailing by at least 14 in the second half of each contest.
So with that in mind, the Redskins and Eagles took to the Lincoln Financial Field grass on Sunday each ready to open divisional play each hoping to impose their wills with a physical approach.
And when the clock struck 0:00, the Redskins were on the losing end of a 37-34 battle against the Eagles to fall to 1-2 on the season, and 0-1 in NFC East play.
The loss for the Redskins dropped their overall record against the Eagles to 81-73-5, including the postseason, and 40-38-2 all-time against the Eagles in Philadelphia.
REVEALING MOMENTWith Robert Griffin III sidelined with a dislocated ankle the next few weeks, quarterback Kirk Cousins got his first start of the season on Sunday against the Eagles. The setting – the team's first divisional game of the season in hostile territory – could've been enough to rattle any backup quarterback, but instead, Cousins came out looking like a seasoned veteran. The third-year signal caller out of Michigan State completed 12 of his first 13 passes for two touchdowns – one to fullback
Darrel Young and the other to Pierre Garcon – to give his team an early 14-7 lead. Cousins looks like a natural in head coach Jay Gruden's West Coast offense, and, early on, looked as though he was just playing catch with his buddies in the back yard. Calm, cool and collected, Cousins became the first Redskins quarterback since Mark Brunell on Dec. 24, 2005, to throw for two touchdown passes in the first quarter of a game.
PLAY OF THE GAMEIt's a sight Eagles fans had gotten used to during DeSean Jackson's first six years in Philadelphia: Jackson sprinting down the field, catching a long touchdown pass, and flapping his wings in the end zone. On Sunday, however, Jackson was doing it
while wearing burgundy and gold. Late in the third quarter with the Redskins trailing 27-20, Cousins – from his own 19-yard line – launched a deep pass down the right to Jackson, who sped past his defenders, made the catch, broke a tackle and sprinted the rest of the way for the 81-yard touchdown. After the extra point, the Redskins tied the game at 27, giving them much-needed momentum heading into the fourth quarter. Those plays are exactly why the Redskins jumped at the opportunity to acquire Jackson, the three-time Pro Bowler, when he was released by the Eagles in March.
PLAYER OF THE GAMEBoth Cousins and the Redskins' offensive line take the cake here. In a game in which their unit was riddled by injuries – some returned to the game, some did not – the Washington offensive line was still able to give their quarterback a clean pocket for most of the game. Cousins finished the game with an impressive stat line, completing 30-of-45 passes for 427 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. In the process, Jackson and Pierre Garçon became the first Redskins teammates to have 100-yard receiving performances since Sept. 14, 2003, against the Atlanta Falcons, when Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner accomplished the feat.
UNSUNG HEROFor a second-straight week, tight end Niles Paul stepped up in starter Jordan Reed's absence and turned in a quality performance. Last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Paul caught eight passes for 99 yards and a nice, back-shoulder touchdown. Against the Eagles on Sunday, Paul continued to be everywhere, catching six passes for 68 yards. With Paul getting so many targets, the Redskins' other key targets – like Garçon and Jackson – were able to get a little more room to operate, as well as running back Alfred Morris. Reed has been battling a hamstring injury suffered seven plays into the season opener at Houston, but until he's able to return, Paul and fellow tight end Logan Paulsen have done well stepping up.
WHAT'S NEXTThe Washington Redskins head into a very short week to prepare for their next test within the NFC East.
On Thursday, the Redskins play host to the New York Giants for a primetime matchup at FedExFIeld. Kickoff for the game – which is being televised by CBS – is at 8:25 p.m.
Thursday's game against the Giants will be the 165th all-time meeting between the two teams, including postseason play. The Giants are the Redskins' most common opponent.
New York headed into their 1 p.m. game today against the Houston Texans with an 0-2 record, losing 35-14 to the Detroit Lions in Week 1 and dropping a 25-14 game to the Arizona Cardinals last week.