LANDOVER, Md. -- The Philadelphia Eagles have proved themselves to be a mirage, a team that got away with its faults until it couldn't any longer. Leaders in the NFC East as recently as a week ago, they're now just about done in the playoff race, and they're in no position to argue that they deserve any better.
Penalties, missed field goals, two more turnovers by Mark Sanchez and an inability to keep track of former teammate DeSean Jackson turned into a 27-24 loss to the lowly Washington Redskins on Saturday night, the Eagles' third straight defeat and one that gives Dallas two chances to clinch the NFC East.
"We're currently minus-9 in the turnover margin, so us having nine wins is really impressive for that," said safety Malcolm Jenkins, echoing the mood of a locker room hit with a communal reality check. "And really we were on borrowed time playing that style of football. If we had run the table in December with that kind of football, it would have been surprising, and it's something we didn't fix."
"I'm not going to throw a party and watch it," receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "I'm going to watch it at home."
The loss also knocked Philadelphia from the wild-card race and clinched a playoff berth for Detroit.
Sanchez set an Eagles record with 37 completions in 50 attempts for a career-high 374 yards with two touchdowns to Riley Cooper, and tight end Zach Ertz set a franchise game record with 15 catches. But Sanchez lost a fumble for the third time this season and threw his 10th interception 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, went 16 for 23 for 220 yards with one interception for the Redskins to win in his first complete game in 13 months. Griffin's only other win as a starter this season came when he was injured in the first quarter against Jacksonville in Week 2.
"You would think a 3-11 football team would just quit," Griffin said. "And we're not."
"I missed kicks and we lost the game," said Parkey, who has been battling a groin injury in his kicking leg. "I don't think there's any words to really describe it. You let yourself down. You let your teammates down. The kicks had nothing to do with my groin."
"We're beating ourselves with the penalties," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. "They stay on the field, and they get more shots on goal, and bad things happen in the NFL."
The Eagles trailed 24-14 when Sanchez hit Cooper for a 16-yard score early in the fourth quarter, and Parkey kicked a 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 made the game's final mistake, the interception to rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland at Washington's 42.
"We wanted to spoil their Christmas and send them home," Griffin said, "and we did our part."
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press