Defense leads Eagles to first win over Washington in two years

By: Jesse Larch, Sports Talk Philly Staff

The Eagles had lost five straight against the Washington Redskins heading into their season opener at FedEx Field, but an aggressive defense and a breakout game from Nelson Agholor would lead the Eagles to a 30-17 victory.

The Eagles got off to a strong start in their first game of the season. The defense got off the field quickly to hand it over to Carson Wentz and the offense. The Eagles first to plays were unimpressive but on third down Wentz made magic happen. 

Wentz found Nelson Agholor for a 58-yard touchdown after Wentz slipped two would-be sacks before finding an open Agholor deep down the field to get the Eagles on the board first. 

Wentz would throw another touchdown early in the second quarter to new running back LeGarrette Blount to put the Eagles up 13-0. 

Just when the Eagles seemed to be building momentum they suffered a huge blow. The Eagles top cornerback Ronald Darby suffered an ankle injury after he landed on it awkwardly backing up a play. Darby was carted off with an air cast and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. 

The Eagles remained strong in the drives after the injury but the offense started to struggle. The Redskins would finally get on the board after Carson Wentz had his pass tipped at the line and the ball found its way to Ryan Kerrigan who returned the interception for a pick six. 

Shortly after the Redskins defense got them on the board, the offense changed up their gameplan on offense. 

Rob Kelley, who killed the Eagles last season, struggled throughout the first half. Jay Gruden called scatback Chris Thompson's number on three consecutive plays late in the second quarter, culminating in a a 29-yard touchdown reception after the Eagles failed to wrap up Thompson when three players converged on him. Thompson managed to spin out of the tackle and break away to put the Redskins up 14-13. 

The Eagles were left with a little over a minute left in the first half to tie it up. The Eagles scratched and clawed their way into the outskirts of caleb Sturgis's field goal range. After missing an extra point Sturgis booted a beautiful kick through the uprights on a 50-yard attempt to give the Eagles a 16-14 lead going into halftime. 

By halftime Nelson Agholor had already set a new career mark with 83 receiving yards, which led all receivers. Zach Ertz led all players with five catches at the half. 

The Eagles deferred the opening coin toss and received to open the second half. The Eagles grinded out the drive and got into field goal range where Caleb Sturgis made his second field goal of the game, this time from 42-yards out to put the Eagles up 19-14 early in the third quarter. 

The biggest play of the drive came from Torrey Smith, who made his first catch of the day when he used his speed to turn a curl route into a 30-yard gain.  

The Eagles shot themselves in the foot on the ensuing drive. The defense should have been off the field but multiple poorly timed penalties kept the Redskins drive going. The drive also ate up a ton of the clock in the third quarter, lasting over eight minutes. 

Jalen Mills saved a touchdown on one play when the Redskins were sitting outside the red zone. Kirk Cousins threw the ball to Terrelle Pryor in single coverage against Mills, but Mills rose up and got a hand on the ball to knock it away. The Eagles made a stand in the red zone and force the Redskins to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Dustin Hopkins to trim the Eagles lead back down to two points. 

The Redskins would threaten again after a late hit by Joe Walker during a Redskins punt return gave Washington good field position. Cousins began to click with his receivers, spreading the ball around and connecting with Terrelle Pryor for a big gain that put the Redskins in the red zone for just the second time all game. 

With the Redskins on the doorstep, the Eagles made a huge stand, and Jalen Mills got his first career interception when he intercepted a Kirk Cousins pass on the goalline after Cousins panicked with the Eagles sending a heavy blitz. Cousins badly missed Jamison Crowder who was running a slant and Mills was there to make the play. Mills also led the Eagles with eight tackles.

The Eagles took over deep in their end and were forced to punt just short of midfield with 6:51 left in the fourth quarter. Donnie Jones bailed out the offense by placing his punt on the Redskins one-yard line with the game potentially on the line. 

Jones punt energized the defense and they forced a three-and-out. The Tress Way punt was fielded by Darren Sproles at the Eagles' 47-yard line with 5:46 left in the game. 

The Eagles leaned on new additions Alshon Jeffery and LeGarrette Blount to milk the clock. Jeffery had a 24-yard reception to put the Eagles in field goal range, and Blount ran the clock down to two minutes before the Redskins forced the kick. 

After a 37-yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis the Eagles held a 22-17 lead with two minutes to go in the game.

The Eagles defense would once again save the day. On the second play of the Redskins drive Brandon Graham recorded a strip sack on Kirk Cousins and Fletcher Cox was in the right place at the right time to scoop up the ball and run it back for a touchdown. 

Carson wentz would connect with Alshon Jeffery on the two-point conversion to give the Eagles a 30-17 win. The win snaps a five-game losing streak against the Redskins and marks the Eagles first win at FedEx Field since 2013. 

The Eagles defense forced four turnovers against the Redskins, with four sacks (two from Brandon Graham) and two fumbles forced on Kirk Cousins. Cousins was under fire all day from the Eagles pass rush. The incredibly accurate passer only completed 57.5 percent of his passes against the Eagles.

Cousins's second lowest career completion percentage comes against the Eagles when evaluating his numbers by opponent. This was Cousins's first lost against the Eagles in his career. He is now 4-1 against the Eagles in his career.

Carson Wentz completed 66.6 percent of his passes and threw for 307 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Zach Ertz led the Eagles in receptions and yards with with eight catches for 93 yards. Nelson Agholor finished his career day with six catches for 86 yards. LeGarrette Blount led the Eagles in rushing with 46 yards on 14 carries

While the Eagles can celebrate now, they will have to look ahead as it looks like Ronald Darby will miss an extended period of time, and Jason Peters did not finish the game after leaving with a groin injury. 

The Eagles play again next Sunday when they travel to Arrowhead Stadium to face Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. 

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