- The Washington Times - Monday, November 30, 2009

PHILADELPHIA | The Washington Redskins were well-aware of the Philadelphia Eagles’ big-play capability coming into Sunday’s game, having seen it firsthand Oct. 26 when DeSean Jackson burned them for touchdowns of 57 and 67 yards.

And despite holding the explosive Eagles in check for most of the afternoon, members of the Redskins’ secondary were left questioning their own critical breakdowns in the aftermath of a 27-24 loss at Lincoln Financial Field.

“That’s the NFL. They’re trying to beat you deep every play,” cornerback Justin Tryon said. “If you’re not in the right coverage, they are going to test us deep. The last time we played them they had a couple big plays on us, so I guess they felt they could go deep again.”

That’s exactly what happened at the end of the first quarter, when Jackson got free behind the Washington secondary for Philadelphia’s first touchdown. The Redskins had good coverage on the play initially, but when Donovan McNabb rolled out of the pocket to buy some time, he found Jackson all alone in the corner of the end zone for a 35-yard strike.

After the gaffe, cornerback Fred Smoot and safety LaRon Landry - the parties responsible for Jackson’s side of the field - jawed at each other as they walked to the sideline.

“When the play broke down, we just need to pick a man and take him,” Landry said. “It was just a miscommunication. I took [Jason Avant] and expected Smoot to be over the top, but that didn’t happen. It was a minor thing that led to a big play.”

Jackson was forced to leave the game with a head injury after a flattening hit by London Fletcher, but even the second-year speedster’s absence was no respite for Washington’s secondary. McNabb simply leaned on another one of his new weapons, first-round pick Jeremy Maclin, for a big play when he needed it.

With the score tied in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, on second-and-5 from the Philadelphia 37 Maclin ran a simple go route and got a step on Carlos Rogers. McNabb lofted a pretty pass, and the first-round pick hauled it in for a 35-yard gain that put the Eagles in range for David Akers’ game-deciding kick.

“I was in his pocket,” Rogers said. “I don’t even know if he got two feet down. That was just a great throw and catch.”

The Redskins’ secondary has been plagued by injuries all season, and Sunday was no different. Already playing without DeAngelo Hall, Smoot left the game with a head injury and Tryon walked off with a hip pointer, though he returned.

“I looked over at one point, and the only [healthy] guys we got are Byron Westbrook and Kevin Barnes,” Rogers said. “But whoever comes in is ready to play; we’ve just got to go with it.”

The Redskins were doing well with that in the middle quarters, allowing only a pair of field goals during that time - both of which were set up by Jason Campbell interceptions.

Washington’s front seven did its part, batting a handful of McNabb’s passes at the line of scrimmage. Tryon secured one of the tipped balls for his first career interception - though he didn’t seem too impressed with it.

“It was a deflection. That’s not really a pick to me,” the second-year cornerback said. “I was at the right place at the right time. I’m glad I was there to make the play, but I want interceptions that I make, you know? On a post route, a dig route or a slant - something like that.”

That interception came early in the fourth quarter while the Redskins were clinging to a three-point advantage. But as the quarter wore on and the game was on the line, the Redskins’ secondary came up short.

Three of Philadelphia’s four biggest plays of the game - all through the air - came after Tryon’s interception.

“You let them do it. It’s not like they came out and dominated us,” a visibly frustrated Landry said. “We need to take care of our own individual responsibility. They capitalized; they made their big plays - big plays we didn’t take away.”

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