- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2017

PHILADELPHIA — Redskins linebacker Zach Brown went to blitz off the edge on a third-and-goal against the Philadelphia Eagles and saw running back Corey Clement escape into the flat. Brown tried to change directions, but by then, it was too late.

Despite being dragged down by two Redskins defenders, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz delivered the perfect throw and Clement came down with the touchdown, right over Brown. At that point in the third quarter, the score put the Eagles up by two touchdowns.

The play was a perfect snapshot of all that went wrong in the Redskins’ 34-24 loss to the Eagles Monday — missed coverages, missed tackles and too much Wentz.

“We’ve got to find a way to make those plays,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “Give them credit: they made crunch time, big-time plays, scrambles, great throws, great tackles, sacks, interceptions when they needed them. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it done.”

The Redskins defense had been undergoing a resurgence this season because of sound tackling and a bolstered secondary, due to the additions of safety D.J. Swearinger and rookie Montae Nicholson.

Against the Eagles, that resurgence disappeared.

After a 30-17 win in Week 1 over the Redskins, Wentz punished Washington, again, in every area players preached they had to clean up in the rematch. The Redskins knew they had to shut down Wentz before he could get outside the pocket. They couldn’t afford to let him extend plays in fear of a deep pass or a costly run.

Wentz executed on both — looking like an MVP candidate in the process.

Need an example? Look no further than shortly after Redskins closed the gap to 24-17 in the fourth quarter. Wentz somehow escaped a collapsed pocket and sprinted for a 17-yard gain on third down.

It was almost an impossible play, and the Eagles went on to score, taking a 31-17 lead in the fourth quarter.

“I didn’t see him, he was just in a ball,” Gruden said. “I was hoping they would blow the whistle … but he came out of there. Guys were rushing up the field and he got down so low, we lost sight of him. Nobody had really a grasp on him.”

Wentz went 17 for 25 and threw for 268 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.

The Redskins squandered any good fortune they built over the first 20 minutes of the game. Washington marched down the field on their first drive only to settle for a 27-yard field goal.

But quarterback Kirk Cousins was in a groove, finding a wide-open Chris Thompson for a 7-yard touchdown to put the Redskins up 10-3 with 9:14 left in the second quarter.

It took Wentz almost to the end of the first quarter to complete a pass, but once he got going, the Eagles found their own rhythm. Philadelphia exploited mismatches, taking advantage of receiver Mack Hollins burning Swearinger and tight end Zach Ertz on linebacker Mason Foster.

In just the second quarter, the Eagles scored 17 points and went into halftime with a 17-10 lead.

Swearinger bit on a double-move from Hollins for the Eagles‘ first touchdown — and the receiver burned him for a 64-yard touchdown.

Later, Ertz, a 6-foot-5 athletic tight end, was in single coverage against Foster and Wentz easily found him for a 46-yard gain. The reception helped set up a Wentz-to-Ertz touchdown, with the tight end leaping over Swearinger for a 4-yard score just before the half.

“It was very disappointing, especially when I give up two touchdowns,” Swearinger said of the loss. “I’ve got to play better.”

Offensively, the Redskins committed many of the same mistakes as they did from the first meeting. Gruden had emphasized the need for better protection for Cousins and for the running game to get going.

Starting running back Rob Kelley returned, but his impact was minimal. He finished with 16 yards on seven carries.

The Redskins also allowed four sacks, again struggling to deal with the Eagles‘ front seven. The offensive line was also banged up in the process, with Moses Morgan (ankle) and Brandon Scherff (knee) both suffering injuries.

“They’re a blitz team. They brought the house a few times,” left tackle Trent Williams said. “We’ve just got to do better with seeing it and being practical with the changes in the audibles and the protection.”

Washington did have an interesting development on offense, using wide receiver Josh Doctson over Terrelle Pryor. Pryor had just two catches for 14 yards.

Cousins, meanwhile had 306 yards for three touchdowns and an interception. Two of those touchdowns went to tight end Jordan Reed, who had his best game of the season.

The Redskins, though, fell to 3-3. Right now, the Redskins are a .500 football team despite showing flashes of being capable of more.

Earlier in the week, Cousins said he preferred to let the season take its course before jumping to conclusions and reiterated the phrase when asked about the ineffective Pryor.

In the meantime, Cousins is now 0-6 on Monday Night Football.

Washington hosts the Dallas Cowboys Sunday at 4:25 p.m.

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