By Lewis Gould
The Eagles, who three weeks ago looked like a lock for the playoffs, now have virtually no chance, which is the ultimate penalty for:
Committing 13 penalties in a must-win game that they lost to the down and out Washington Redskins 27-24.
Penalties, missed field goals, two more turnovers by Mark Sanchez (photo above) and an inability to keep track of former teammate DeSean Jackson when it mattered turned into the Eagles’ third straight defeat and one that gives Dallas two chances to clinch the NFC East.
Sanchez’s interception with 1:31 remaining led to Kai Forbath’s winning 26-yard field goal with 5 seconds remaining as the Redskins (4-11) snapped a six-game losing streak.
The Eagles (9-6) will now focus their energies on rooting for the Indianapolis Colts to beat the Cowboys (10-4) on Sunday. Philly then would need to beat the New York Giants on the road next week, then hope that Dallas loses to the Redskins. That would create a 10-6 tie atop the NFC East, with the Eagles claiming first place because they hold the tiebreaker based on a better division record.
Philly’s loss clinched a playoff berth for the Detroit Lions. The Eagles were eliminated from the wild-card race.
Sanchez completed 37 of 50 passes for 374 yards with two touchdowns to Riley Cooper. He lost his third fumble this season and threw his 10th interception — Washington rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland came up with the big play — to put the Eagles’ NFL-leading turnover tally at 36.
Robert Griffin III, back from his recent benching after a season-ending neck injury to Colt McCoy, completed 16 of 23 passes for 220 yards with one interception for the Redskins to win in his first complete game in more than a year. Griffin’s only other win as a starter this season came when he was injured in the first quarter against Jacksonville in Week 2.
Jackson, cut by the Eagles and signed by the Redskins after last season, caught four passes for 126 yards for a second big game against his former team. Philly also committed 13 penalties for 102 yards.
As the game progressed, everything seemed to go wrong in pairs for the Eagles. A pair of wide-rights by rookie kicker Cody Parkey — doubling his number of misses this season — were converted into a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by Darrel Young.
One of those Washington scoring drives included roughing-the-passer penalties by Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry in a span of four plays. The other drive featured a 55-yard over-the-shoulder grab by Jackson, the second 50-plus Griffin-to-Jackson connection in the game.
Curry also had a roughing-the-passer call on the Redskins’ winning drive. Earlier, a pass-interference call on Nate Allen in the end zone set up Young’s second scoring run that gave the Redskins a 24-14 lead.
But the Eagles can make up ground in a hurry with their never-slow-down offence. Sanchez hit Riley Cooper for a 16-yard score early in the fourth quarter to pull Philadelphia within three.
Allen then picked off another long Griffin-to-Jackson attempt, and the Eagles marched downfield and tied the game at 24 on Harkey’s 22-yard field goal with 6:17 to play.
But, on their next possession — with the score tied and the season on the line — Sanchez threw the interception to a sliding Breeland at the Redskins 42.
Eagles tight end Zach Ertz set a franchise game record with 15 catches.