Eagles Key Plays: How They Happened
The Eagles scored three times, gave up two touchdowns, recorded two giveaways and forced one turnover in their 23-20 loss to Washington. Here’s how all that — plus a couple of other big plays — happened.
The play: DeMarco Murray ran 30 yards for the Eagles’ longest rush of the season to start their second drive.
How it happened: Allen Barbre did a great job of riding his defensive lineman — who lined up in the ‘B’ gap but attacked across the ‘A’ gap — down the line of scrimmage and out of the play. Jason Kelce and Matt Tobin also got good movement on their defensive lineman, which opened up a huge cutback lane.
Murray did a good job of reading the front side and seeing nothing was there, before making a defensive back miss and later picking up 10 yards after contact. Nelson Agholor and Miles Austin also made good blocks on the outside that helped Murray run untouched for 20 yards.
Bird’s-eye view: “They actually overplayed the front side where we had one defender unblocked and he cut it back into some big open air,” Pat Shurmur said. “So it was blocked properly, and then DeMarco did a good job of cutting the ball back into an area where there wasn’t a defender.”
The play: Kirk Cousins fumbled the snap and then picked it up and ran for a one-yard touchdown.
How it happened: It appeared Cousins was stuffed at the line of scrimmage and wouldn’t have reached the end zone if his running back didn’t push him in. The Eagles did a good job of standing the offensive line up and not getting pushed back, but they gave up their first rushing touchdown of the season.
Bird’s-eye view: “I didn’t realize until watching the film that it wasn’t a quarterback sneak,” Beau Allen said. “I’m not quite sure what we could’ve done different. That was a pretty heads-up play by him, to be honest. I guess on the defensive line, we could’ve gotten more push back on the offensive line and stymied him, but that’s just a tough situation.”
The play: Sam Bradford completed a 45-yard pass to Nelson Agholor, which was Bradford’s first completion of a ball thrown more than 20 yards this season.
How it happened: The deep posts killed Washington all day, and Agholor made a fantastic one-handed catch here. Shurmur explained how Jordan Matthews helped Agholor get open on this play below, but the rookie receiver’s speed was also on full display.
Bird’s-eye view: “We ran a big play-action and the safety got really wrapped up,” Shurmur said. “Jordan was on the other side of the field running an over‑route and the safety sort of got wrapped up with that. Jordan did a good job of nodding his post to keep the corner outside, and Sam made a good throw. Threw it nice and tight down the alley, and he certainly made a great catch.”
The play: Agholor fumbled a pitch from Ryan Mathews on a reverse after the 45-yard gain.
How it happened: Many criticized Chip Kelly for the trick play here, but Agholor appeared to have a lot of running room if he cleanly caught the toss. The Eagles couldn’t consistently move the ball and Washington’s linebackers over-committed to the handoff, but the rookie dropped a good pitch from Mathews.
Bird’s-eye view: “The play wasn’t executed the way it should have been,” Agholor said. “I should have looked the football in. The number one thing is to receive the football.”
The play: Bradford threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper, which is the Eagles’ longest offensive play of the season.
How it happened: Washington played with a single-high safety, but a go route by Agholor and a post route from Zach Ertz helped move the defensive back away from Cooper’s deep post. The safety also had to move toward the middle of the field after the snap — and away from Cooper — so he had to break on the ball with no momentum carrying him toward Cooper. Bradford also made an excellent throw.
Bird’s-eye view: “I think the one to Riley Cooper in the third quarter kind of got us going,” Bradford said. “It brought some energy to that sideline.”
The play: Bradford threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek, which was the Eagles’ second consecutive trip to the end zone to start the third quarter.
How it happened: Washington ran a zero-blitz, bringing one more rusher than the Eagles could block. There was pressure up the middle, but the offensive line did a solid job of picking up the blitz. Then, Bradford broke a tackle from the unblocked rusher and escaped the pocket. The Redskins had five defenders in coverage — enough to matchup with the Eagles’ five receivers — but Celek was open virtually the entire play.
Bird’s-eye view: “I think it was a blown coverage,” Celek said. “And Sam made a good play of getting out of the pocket. I was wide open.”
The play: Brandon Graham forced a fumble, which Jordan Hicks recovered, giving Philadelphia the ball close to midfield.
How it happened: Although this was a great play by Graham, DeMeco Ryans gets the assist for holding on to Jordan Reed and letting his teammates rally to the ball. Hicks continued to be at the right place at the right time, and now has one interception, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in four games.
Bird’s-eye view: “When I came around, I saw the ball, so that’s exactly what I went for,” Graham said. “It looked like I was trying to pick him up, but really, I was trying to grab him to rake it out.”
The play: Bradford threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin, giving the Eagles the 20-16 lead in the fourth quarter.
How it happened: Although it appeared Austin may have gotten a last-second tip because he was looking over to the sideline right before the snap, he said he was just looking for the play. He started inside and then cut back outside about ten yards down field, which made the corner turn around and allowed Austin to get behind him.
Bird’s-eye view: “I was going to line up closer [to the inside], but I was already aligned,” Austin said. “So then I lost leverage. I stemmed down to get my leverage back to where it should’ve started so I could widen back out.”
The play: Cousins threw a game-winning, four-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon.
How it happened: The Eagles ran a zero-blitz, rushing one more defender than Washington could block and leaving five defensive backs in one-on-one coverage. Although the Redskins scored, you can’t ask for much better coverage from Walter Thurmond. Cousins delivered a perfectly placed ball to Garcon, who made a great play himself by coming down with the catch.
Bird’s-eye view: “We checked to a blitz, which we like doing down there,” Bill Davis said. “We’re either going to max drop or max blitz you. Walt Thurman was in a perfect position and played inside out. Eric Rowe did a great job of knowing that he had a running back and that Pierre was inside, so he came off his [man] quick to kind of trap that coverage.
“It was a perfect throw. If he had thrown it behind it, Walt has it. If he throws it too far in front, Eric has it. He throws it right on the money. Then Pierre caught it and held on to it after Eric hit him. That’s one of those plays where you have to say, ‘Congratulations, Washington. On that play you did exactly what you had to do.'”
The play: On the last play of the game, Bradford completed a 12-yard pass to Matthews, who lateraled to Agholor, who then fumbled on a cross-field lateral.
How it happened: Although it probably wouldn’t have affected the outcome of the game, this play was unnecessary. The Eagles could’ve easily picked up the first down and gotten out of bounds with time left on the clock. It’s still unlikely, however, that they could’ve gained about 70 yards on a potential play after that to win the game.