- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

PHILADELPHIA — Saturday, Dec. 20 at FedEx Field, time to be determined, the Washington Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles.

You might want to be there.

Sunday’s 37-34 Eagles win over the Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field was everything you would want in an NFC East rivalry game. Frustration, exhilaration, desperation, retribution, confrontations, altercations, ejections — all of it adding up to one of the more hard-fought games between these two division rivals in recent years.

And, though the Redskins came up short, they can’t wait for the rematch.

“Yeah, we’re going to be looking forward to it,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “You could see the intensity on both sides out there.”


SEE ALSO: Kirk Cousins posts big numbers in Redskins’ loss to Eagles


In case you couldn’t, both teams made it obvious for you with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. With the score tied 27-27, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles threw what appeared to be an interception by Bashaud Breeland. On the return, Redskins defensive tackle Chris Baker nailed Foles, and his Eagles teammates — particularly tackle Jason Peters — took exception to the hit and went after Baker.

With haymakers and helmets flying, the benches emptied and a crowd of players fought near the Redskins sideline, and at one point it seemed as if the scene would get out of control of the officials, as it got closer to the stands. The officials ordered both teams to their respective sidelines before finally sorting it all out. Both Baker and Peters were kicked out of the game.

“It was a bloodbath out there, a dog fight,” Redskins defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said.

It wasn’t the infamous body bag game of 1990, when seven Redskins players were hurt and rookie Brian Mitchell had to finish the game at quarterback — though DeAngelo Hall may have torn his Achilles tendon. But, as far as Redskins-Eagles games go, this one was pretty good.

What’s more, the Eagles may have gotten a look at the only team that may battle them in the NFC East this year.

Oh, yes, and by the way, DeSean Jackson, making his return to Philadelphia to face the team that still inexplicably asked him to leave, scored on an 81-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to tie the game at 27-27 with two minutes left in the third quarter.

“When you play a game like this, it can get emotional,” Eagles linebacker Trent Cole said. “With DeSean coming back, things just got emotional.”

That should have been the story of the day. But there was more, much more.

Big plays were made and missed. Cousins was nearly perfect in the first quarter, completing 12 out of 13 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. He finished  30 of 48 for 427 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

It was everything that we were told to expect from Cousins running this Jay Gruden offense.

But halfway through the fourth quarter Cousins threw an interception to linebacker Mychal Kendricks that led to a 51-yard field goal to extend Philadelphia’s lead to 37-27. And in the final minutes of the fourth quarter — Washington’s last chance, down 37-34 — Cousins handed the ball to Alfred Morris for no gain, and followed that with three straight incomplete passes to seal the loss for the Redskins. It was hard not to think of the times that a healthy Robert Griffin III, in those situations, would pull out a victory.

The defense gave up big plays — eight catches by Jeremy Maclin for 154 yards, one of them a 50-yard touchdown catch. But they also held the potent Eagles offense to field goals instead of touchdowns in the third quarter and again late in the fourth quarter. And, when Washington needed to get the ball back down 37-34 with four minutes left the game, the defense held LeSean McCoy to two yards on two carries and hurried Foles into an incomplete pass attempt to Brent Celek, forcing the Eagles to punt

Philadelphia ran for just 54 yards — McCoy a paltry 22 yards on 20 carries. But Foles picked the secondary apart, completing 28 of 42 for 325 yards.

“We did what we could on defense,” said Hatcher, who had to leave the game with a hamstring injury, but said he expects to be ready for Thursday night’s game against the New York Giants. “They like to create a lot of space, and they know we fly to the football, so they keep us separated, and they did a good job doing that today.”

Still, it was a game there to win for the Redskins — a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Chris Polk following a perfect opening game drive by Cousins, who took Washington down the field 82 yards on 11 plays, finishing with a four-yard touchdown pass to Darrel Young. A 33-yard field goal attempt by Kai Forbath hitting the right upright.

“It’s frustrating,” Gruden said. “Very frustrating. Very disappointing. But I like the way we battled back.”

They battled on the field and off the field.

“The guy [Baker] cheap-shotted Nick Foles,” Peters said.

“There were fights going on during the game” Foles said. “Washington came out fighting, and we fought right back.”

“We will get another game against them down the road,” DeSean Jackson said.

December 20 — the rematch.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com.

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