Eagles stay in contention with win over Redskins

The Philadelphia Eagles (6-6) kept their playoff hopes alive with a 28-13 victory over the injury-riddled Washington Redskins (6-6) to close out Week 13. Here's what we learned:

  1. With back-to-back wins over NFC East rivals, the Eagles have soared right back into wild-card contention and a crowded division race. Philadelphia was left for dead after its blowout loss to the Saints, but the return of Darren Sproles, the emergence of trade-deadline acquisition Golden Tate and Zach Ertz's reliable presence are rounding out an Eagles offense that has the makeup to reach January. Ertz has been, and remained on Monday night, Wentz' favorite target. With nine more receptions against D.C., the tight end broke Philly's franchise record for most receptions in a single season, previously held by Brian Westbrook. Tate added a game-high 85 yards on seven receptions, his most in an Eagles uni, and announced himself to the Philly fans with a post-touchdown worm celebration worthy of a '90s sweet sixteen. Sproles scored too, providing a welcome speed element in his first game since the opener.
  1. What injury luck for Washington. Just weeks after Alex Smith suffered a season-ending broken leg, his backup Colt McCoysuffered the same fate. With McCoy lost for Washington's final four games, the responsibility falls to Mark Sanchez, who was signed off the couch two weeks ago, to lead the Redskins into the postseason. The former Jets quarterback is familiar with the playoff chase -- he made two consecutive AFC Championship Games with New York to start his career -- but Sanchez hasn't started a game since November of 2015 and looked rusty against Philly, though that's to be expected, especially given his limited time with the team. Jay Gruden told reporters after the loss that Washington had fewer plays available for Sanchez to run than it would have had for a garbage-time QB in a preseason game.

The Redskins will need to find another backup QB. They worked out T.J. Yates, E.J. Manuel and Kellen Clemens in November when Smith went down for the count and should tap that well again. But this is Sanchez's team now, for better and most likely worse. The Redskins will attempt to steal a wild-card spot behind a 32-year-old journeyman under center, a 33-year-old runner potentially on his last legs and a crumbling offensive line. Crazier things have happened. Right?

  1. These rejuvenated Eagles will be put to the test next week when they travel to Arlington to take on the division-leading Cowboys. Dallas (7-5) is fresh off a beatdown of New Orleans, the same Saints team that embarrassed Philly nary three weeks ago. A win over the 'Boys would lock the two atop the East, while a loss would doom Philly's hopes of securing a home playoff game. The Eagles play the Rams and Texans (combined record of 20-4) after Dallas before wrapping the season in D.C. If Philadelphia can't secure a win in Jerryworld, then you can kiss the defending champs goodbye.
  1. The road ain't any easier for Washington. The 'Skins play Big Blue at home next week and then travel to the AFC South's top defenses in Jacksonville and Tennessee before the rematch with Philly. The hope for Jay Gruden's bunch, desperate as it is, is that the NFC East beat each other up in the final weeks and an 8-8 or 9-7 team emerges as the division champ.
  1. Weird night for Adrian Peterson and the Redskins running game. The future Hall of Fame back became the oldest player to ever run for a 90-yard touchdown when he galloped from end zone to end zone on Sanchez's first play from scrimmage. But save for that thrilling dash, Washington ran for 14 yards on 13 attempts. The return of Chris Thompson did little to ignite the ground attack, though the dual-threat back was somewhat active in the pass game (3 rec, 18 yards). Adding injury to insult, Washington is believed to have lost starting guard Jonathan Cooper for the year with a torn bicep. The Redskins will need consistent production from their running backs down the stretch to take the load off Sanchez. Monday night wasn't a good start.
  1. Josh Adams has filled in for Jay Ajayi nicely. The rookie back played through a hip issue and averaged 4.3 yards per carry against a stiff Washington front seven. Adams is averaging 5.2 yards per tote on the season and, complemented by Sproles and Corey Clement, is wearing his bellcow role well.
  1. It came against Sanchez and a beat-up Redskins O-line, but Philly's front seven pressured D.C. like it was 2017 all over again. Brandon Graham rolled through Trent Williams for a sack; Fletcher Cox tacked on one of his own; and Michael Bennett looked fresh as ever. Good sign for Philly as winter approaches.
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