Here's the thing about those 13 penalties the Eagles committed against the Redskins during the team's thermonuclear meltdown on Saturday. They actually had 15.
Two of the gaffes didn't go into the record book because they were offset by penalties on the Redskins, but the Eagles committed them nonetheless.
That's a good theme when you look back at this game. No matter how bad you thought it was, on further review, it was actually worse.
There's going to be a lot of time to look back with regret for the Eagles now. The Dallas win over Indianapolis on Sunday eliminated the Eagles from the postseason, but even if that game had gone the other way, keeping them on life support for another week, that would have only led to some equally cruel denouement next Sunday.
It figured to be over, but even if the Eagles hit the luckiest of trifectas in the three games that would decide their fate, it is clear now that a trip to the playoffs would have been both brief and undeserved. The Redskins game didn't expose any new problems, but it did display them all in one neat package that can serve as a handy reference: too many turnovers, an offense limited by the ability of the quarterback, not enough discipline in avoiding penalties, and an under-talented defense that must pick the poison of where to be vulnerable every game.
Any boat with that many holes in the hull is going to sink eventually. The marvel is that it took as long for the water to reach the gunwales this season. The credit for that goes to what the Eagles do have, and it's not nothing. It's just not enough, either.
The best example of what safety Malcolm Jenkins meant when he stood in the locker room Saturday night and said the Eagles are "a great bad team" is that despite all the screw-ups of the afternoon and evening, they were still almost good enough to win the game. Yes, they were playing the Redskins, not the most daunting of opponents, but that many mistakes and misplays should have put a win out of reach. If Mark Sanchez doesn't throw that late interception - which, I know, is like saying if Keith Richards doesn't have another smoke - and the Eagles can gain just 15 more yards on top of the 495 they had already gained, then Cody Parkey comes out a hero in the end, and the Eagles skate away again. It has certainly happened already this season.
The Eagles beat St. Louis by six points despite a game in which they had three turnovers and were 1 for 3 in the red zone. They got a defensive fumble recovery in the end zone and also a blocked punt recovery in the end zone in that game. They beat Washington by three points in September despite a game in which the defense allowed Kirk Cousins to throw for 427 yards and three touchdowns, including an 81-yard scoring pass to DeSean Jackson. (The coverage scheme on that one was split between Cary Williams and Nate Allen, by the way.) It was also a game in which LeSean McCoy gained 22 yards on 19 carries. They won that game, too, with a 102-yard kickoff return by Chris Polk as the difference.
So, if this were September or October, Jenkins wouldn't have dropped that sure interception on Washington's opening drive to a field goal. He would have returned it more than 90 yards for a touchdown. But things have a way of sorting themselves out over a long season.
Even all those penalties on Saturday can perhaps be narrowed down to only one borderline call that really changed the course of things, a good reminder of the razor's edge they have walked all year.
Midway through the third quarter, Robert Griffin III threw a third-down incompletion in Eagles territory that meant Washington would have to settle for a field goal. But then a late flag fell near the line of scrimmage, and outside linebacker Brandon Graham was called for hitting Griffin in the head area.
Graham, who had stunted to the inside in tandem with his counterpart, Connor Barwin, to gang up on the center, got to Griffin at the same time as Barwin, both with their hands raised to block the pass or obscure the quarterback's view. They weren't late when they hit him, and if Graham's hand glanced against Griffin's helmet, it wasn't by much, and the flag didn't fall until well after the whole play ended.
It was a coin flip that came up on the wrong side for the Eagles. Washington got a touchdown instead of a field goal. Maybe that four-point swing wouldn't have made the difference that the final score indicates, but, as Andy Reid said long ago, there is some compelling arithmetic there.
If it were September or October, that flag doesn't fall. If it were September or October, Malcolm Jenkins returns that interception for a touchdown.
Based on the last three weeks, however, it is safe to say that September and October are gone, and now the Eagles are, too.