The Washington Redskins have won four in a row.
The Skins knocked off the division rival Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score. The Redskins piled up 493 total yards to Philly’s 239, with most of the Eagles’ total coming late in the game.
The win improved the Redskins’ record to 4-2, and moved Washington ahead of Philadelphia in the divisional standings. Here are five things we learned from this big win:
1. Ryan Kerrigan dominated Halapoulivaati Vaitai: It’s an obvious point, but it’s also probably the key to the whole game. Lane Johnson’s 10-game suspension couldn’t have come at a more fortuitous time for the Redskins. In his place, Vaitai had trouble against Kerrigan for most of the game, particularly on the opening series, when Kerrigan got to Carson Wentz twice. The Eagles had to adjust their blocking schemes to make sure their rookie tackle had help, but the Redskins still sacked Wentz five times. And, yes, I had to look up how to spell Vaitai’s name and check it letter-by-letter.
2. Jamison Crowder is really coming into his own: What’s so impressive is his newfound versatility. It wasn’t that long ago that we were questioning whether he should even retain his duties as a punt returner, as opposed to working to develop into a #3 or #4 wideout. Now, not only is he now one of the better punt returners in the league, but he’s becoming more and more of a factor in the passing attack as well. That was especially important on a day like Sunday, when both Jordan Reed and Josh Doctson were out with injury. Crowder finished with three catches for 52 yards and the Redskins’ first touchdown.
3. The NFL’s excessive celebration rule is awful: Let’s beat this dead horse some more. I’m the biggest curmudgeon around, but even I think this rule is absurd. The NFL is pure entertainment. Yes, Vernon Davis should know the rule, but the rule is dumb. What he did is not “excessive.” Can we fix it already? And, of course, that led directly to a kickoff return for a touchdown by the Eagles’ Wendell Smallwood, as touchback machine Dustin Hopkins had to deal with the 15-yard penalty.
Winners and Losers: 3 up and 3 down
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Washington / Philly: An early prediction for Sunday’s NFC East matchup
Post Game Wrap: A look at a big win at windy Baltimore
Redskins Opinion: Washington IS what the record says they are
4. Kirk Cousins is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Inconsistency doesn’t quite cover it anymore. Cousins looks like one of the better quarterbacks in the league for several plays, then makes an inexplicably awful play. I can think of a half-dozen great throws Cousins made in this game, including the would-be touchdown that Desean Jackson dropped. He also had a gutsy run on third down that extended an eventual touchdown drive.
That’s all terrific.
Yet, there were a couple of moments where he looked totally lost. The most damaging was the terrible interception he threw to Malcolm Jenkins, which Jenkins returned 64 yards for a touchdown. That play, along with the penalty / kickoff return combo described above, meant that Washington only led by seven at the half after out-gaining the Eagles by a dominant 283-41 margin. Consistency is the only thing standing between Cousins and being a Top 10 NFL quarterback. Making that improvement is easier said than done.
5. This team is starting to coalesce: Yeah, there were two bad plays that really hurt. And, yeah, the Redskins dominated the Eagles and probably should have won by three touchdowns instead of one.
But consider what Washington has accomplished over the last month. This was a team that was 0-2 and struggling to run the ball or play anything resembling good defense. In the last four games, all wins, that has slowly turned around completely. Against the Eagles, the defense had allowed Philadelphia only 90 yards until the fourth quarter. And the Redskins finished with 230 yards on 33 carries, including Robert Kelley running for 59 yards on five attempts to go along with Matt Jones’ 135-yard day.
It’s a cliche to say that this is a “different team” than it was a month ago, but, wow, it sure seems like it, doesn’t it? If they can cut out one or two game-changing, negative plays each week, they have the potential to be the best team in this division again.