A cruel blow
The Philadelphia Eagles hosted the Washington Redskins for an NFC East edition of “Monday Night Football” to cap off a lively NFL Week 13.
Both teams needed a win badly to keep up with the Dallas Cowboys in the division.
The Redskins got dealt a cruel blow when Colt McCoy was forced to exit with a leg injury, but then something remarkable happened that turned the game upside down.
In the end, however, the home team was just too strong. Philadelphia would cruise to victory, winning 28-13 to improve to 6-6 on the season. Washington fell to 6-6, and the NFC East is suddenly a very crowded place.
These were the biggest winners and losers from Monday night’s action.
Winner: Eagles find balance, pull within a game of Dallas
Carson Wentz played pretty well, aside from a terrible interception thrown into the end zone that helped Washington stay in the game early. The young quarterback threw for 306 yards with two touchdowns.
But the real story here is that the Eagles have found some real balance on offense due to the emergence of undrafted rookie running back Josh Adams. He rushed for 85 yards on 20 carries and has become a reliable workhorse in recent weeks.
Philly’s defense had little trouble keeping the shorthanded Washington offense in check, and the game was a breeze in the second half. Now at 6-6 on the season, the Eagles have a chance to claw back into a tie for first place next weekend on the road in Dallas.
Loser: Washington loses another QB for the year
In a brutal turn of events, Washington watched Colt McCoy limp off the field and into the locker room for X-rays on his right leg. Turns out, he suffered a fractured fibula and will miss the remainder of the season.
Remember, this is the same team that lost starter Alex Smith to a gruesome, horrifying broken leg just a few weeks ago. To lose your two top quarterbacks like this, so close together, is a devastating blow.
Making it even worse is that Washington was in control of the NFC East before Smith was injured. Now, after losing to Philadelphia on Monday night, the Redskins are tied with Philadelphia in second place. They’ve lost two in a row, and from here on out it’s going to be Mark Sanchez or bust.
Winner: Zach Ertz sets new Eagles record
Carson Wentz loves throwing to his talented tight end, Zach Ertz. The two of them have amazing chemistry, and it shows up on the stat sheet on a weekly basis.
On Monday night, Ertz hauled in nine receptions for 83 yards. Along the way, he set a new Eagles record for most receptions in one season (93), which previously was 90, set by Brian Westbrook in 2007.
Incredibly, he still has four more games to add to this total. A prolific pass catcher, Ertz is one of the best receiving tight ends in the league. And if he can stay healthy, he might just become one of the best in NFL history.
Loser: Washington’s front seven got dominated
Washington came into the game averaging nearly three sacks a game while sporting the No. 6 ranked run defense in the league. Aside from a timely interception by cornerback Josh Norman, the defense didn’t do much of anything to stop the Eagles on Monday night.
The front seven, in particular, was bullied and dominated throughout the contest. Carson Wentz was not sacked once. When Philly chose to run the ball, it was able to run it effectively. The defensive line of Washington, which is a very strong unit most weekends, was unable to affect the game.
Washington’s linebackers were swallowed up at the line of scrimmage, overpursued on screens, and were overwhelmed covering the middle of the field on passing plays. In a game that saw the Redskins struggle offensively, their defense failed to pick up the slack.
Winner: Golden Tate meshing with Wentz
The Eagles have been waiting for Golden Tate to make a big impact for a few weeks now since making a trade to acquire him before the deadline. In his first three games with his new team, Tate caught just 11 passes for 97 yards and was held without a touchdown.
The former Detroit Lions star came through in a big way Monday night. He hauled in the first touchdown of the game and was strong all night long. In the end, he finished with seven receptions for 85 yards and the one score.
If he can continue to bring this type of production week in and week out, the Eagles will only continue to improve offensively in the final month of the season.
Loser: Alshon Jeffery seems to be the odd man out
Remember when the Eagles shelled out big cash to retain Jeffery as a free agent? He was supposed to be a big-play guy in Philly. And early on he actually fulfilled that role pretty well.
Heading into Monday night’s showdown against Washington, however, he had been on a cold streak with just 15 receptions for 155 yards and no touchdowns in his last four games.
The cold streak continued in Week 13. As Wentz becomes more comfortable with Tate, he seems to be forgetting about Jeffery. The lanky deep threat hauled in just three catches for 31 yards on Monday night, and at this point it seems like he’s just the odd man out.
Winner: Adrian Peterson still has wheels
Adrian Peterson is going to be in the Hall of Fame one day. Yet on Monday night the 33-year-old found a new gear, going 90 yards through the Philadelphia defense in the second quarter — the longest run of his career.
This touchdown was huge. It gave the Redskins some much-needed life after Colt McCoy left with a leg injury, and it gave them the lead at that point in the second quarter. Unfortunately it wouldn’t last, but it was at least a bright spot in an otherwise rough night for his team.
Peterson would carry the ball a total of nine times throughout the night, tallying 98 yards and the one touchdown.
Loser: Refs blow it big time
On the game’s first drive, Philly had the ball in the red zone. On the 12th play of the drive, Carson Wentz made some nifty moves to avoid pressure and after a bit of scrambling found Golden Tate in the back right corner of the end zone.
Only, Lane Johnson very clearly moved off the line early on an obvious false start that was never called (watch here).
This blatant missed call turned what should have been a long second-and-goal situation into six points. We’ll never know what would have happened if the correct call had been made. But a mistake of that magnitude this early in such a critical game was huge.