- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2002

The Washington Redskins racked up points in the preseason and in the first game of the season against the weak Arizona Cardinals. But against one of the NFL's top outfits, Steve Spurrier's vaunted Fun'n'Gun was rendered weaponless and shut out, with a special teams touchdown the only Washington points in last night's 37-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field.

The final numbers were grisly: 179 net yards, 90 passing yards, three turnovers and four sacks surrendered. It was a far cry from any performance a Spurrier-coached team had put forth in some time.

"They completely shut us out. We made a few first downs but nothing [substantial]," Spurrier said. "They had a good scheme of defense, and we didn't do much against it."

The Eagles' hallmark is pressure, and they brought it in traditional fashion last night from all angles and from different sources. Their outstanding cornerback play from Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent severely limited just about anything the Redskins tried to do.

For the most part, Washington quarterback Shane Matthews had all the time he needed last week in throwing for 327 yards against Arizona. He often utilized dump-off passes and threw underneath, and the gains were often productive.

Matthews didn't have the same success last night. He tried to go underneath several times, but Eagles defenders were right there to stuff the play. Matthews labeled the offense's performance "embarrassing."

The Redskins' second drive provided a perfect example. Matthews tried a short pass to tight end Leonard Stephens, but Vincent was there to jar the ball loose. Matthews then hit Rod Gardner for 14 yards and a first down. A Matthews-to-Stephen Davis pass was stuffed for no gain, then Davis lost four yards on a rush. On third down, Matthews' pass intended for Gardner was nowhere near the receiver.

And, of course, the Davis-anchored running game that represented the keystone in the opening win struggled to get untracked. Davis finished with 53 yards on 12 carries.

The Redskins made things tough for themselves by falling behind so quickly. The Eagles scored on their first possession and after the Redskins' next five-play sequence ended with a punt, the Eagles marched 65 yards for another score and a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

"They played back more than we were used to, maybe because they were ahead," Spurrier said.

Like last week, the Redskins did not benefit from good field position. Their average starting point was their 18, and they didn't start any drive farther upfield than their 29. They were able to overcome starting drives deep in their own territory against the Cardinals' shoddy defense but not against a formidable unit like the Eagles'.

The loss was exacerbated by the fact that two former Redskins linebacker Shawn Barber and lineman N.D. Kalu factored in the victory. Barber helped force Champ Bailey's second-quarter fumble, while Kalu contributed a half-sack and two passes defensed.

The Eagles possessed one of the NFL's strongest returning units from a year ago despite losing Pro Bowl middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter to the Redskins. They allowed the second fewest points (12.6 per game) and the second fewest passing yards.

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