LANDOVER – The stage was set for Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins to lead a game-winning drive with less than two minutes to go against the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, the fans at FedExField watched in awe as Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham stripped the ball away from Cousins on the second play of the drive. Fletcher Cox then scooped up the fumble and scampered into the endzone from 20 yards out to seal the 30-17 victory.
“Well, I mean, they’re a good team on defense. It’s frustrating,” Washington Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden said. “I think we’re better than that up front. We’re better than that at receiver – dropping balls – and we’re better than that at quarterback.
“We all had our hand in it. Play-callers, offensively, it wasn’t good enough obviously. We still had a chance to win there in the two-minute. The defense kept us in the game, but unfortunately, a turnover for a touchdown cost us.”
Washington could not get anything to work offensively, and the script has read the same since the first preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens. Without a respectable running game, and with the offensive line getting pushed back at the point of attack, Cousins had very little time to throw for the duration of the day.
On the other hand, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz had little trouble moving the ball late in the first quarter when he hooked up with Nelson Agholor for a 58-yard touchdown. The third-year receiver backpedaled and ran through an arm tackle attempt by Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger for the first score of the contest.
“Yeah, I mean a lot of it honestly is instinct,” Wentz said of his first touchdown throw while being forced out of the pocket. “They ran a good coverage, and it’s kind of how things broke down, and I just made plays.
“That’s something we’ve talked about all offseason – is just, ‘hey guys, never die out there, just always stay alive and get open.’ Nelson did a great job, and I think we had a couple of other guys get open as well. That’s just a big thing that we will continually work on and it will be a big part of our game.”
The Eagles kept making plays as Washington continued on with an anemic offensive effort. Newly acquired running back LeGarrette Blount powered his way into the endzone from a yard out after Wentz engineered an eight-play, 39-yard drive on the Eagles’ third possession of the second quarter. However, Philadelphia kicker Caleb Sturgis failed to connect on the extra point, making the score 13-0.
The game had the making of a Philadelphia blowout before Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan made a play that completely changed the momentum of the first half.
As Wentz dropped back into the pocket on second down around the nine-minute mark of the second quarter, he tried to find Darren Sproles in the flat, but Kerrigan raced to the ball first and took the interception to the house for a 24-yard touchdown.
After the Redskins’ defensive unit forced the Eagles to punt on the ensuing possession, Washington struck again within the two-minute warning when Cousins hit Chris Thompson for a 29-yard touchdown and a 14-13 lead. Nevertheless, Sturgis nailed a 50-yard field goal to retake the lead going into the locker room.
From there, things went downhill for the Burgundy and Gold.
Both teams struggled to move the ball with any consistency, resulting in Sturgis hitting two more field goals in the second half. Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins' 33-yard field goal late in the third quarter was the final score Washington would enjoy before Cox’s game-clinching fumble return for a touchdown.
Cousins finished the game 23-of-40 for 240 yards, a touchdown, an interception and he lost two fumbles. To make matters worse, Cousins and starting running back Robert Kelley tied for total rushing yardage (30).
Cousins had trouble hitting Terrelle Pryor, Sr. and tight end Jordan Reed seemed out of sorts as he is still dealing with a toe injury. Pryor was targeted 11 times and hauled in six passes for 66 yards, while Reed caught five balls for 36 yards.
Washington will have another shot at fixing its issues as the Redskins go on the road to take on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.