LANDOVER, Md. - A few Eagles sat idly in their locker room after a stunning 27-24 loss to the Washington Redskins on Saturday, silenced by the realization of a December that went awry.
It was the quietest the room had been all season. They did not try feigning optimism, because most of their hopes of reaching the postseason relied first on beating Washington.
Their attempt at a game-winning drive was ruined by Mark Sanchez's interception with 91 seconds remaining, and the Redskins used a short field and an Eagles penalty to drive into position for Kai Forbath's 26-yard field goal with five seconds remaining.
With that interception and field goal, Washington all but spoiled any Eagles hopes of extending the season into January. On Thanksgiving, they were 9-3 with the potential for favorable seeding. After a three-game losing streak, the only way they can make the playoffs is to hope the Dallas Cowboys lose their final two games combined with an Eagles win next week against the New York Giants.
"Three weeks ago, we were sitting pretty," wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "And now, we need a lot of stuff to happen. We have no one to blame but ourselves."
The Eagles committed two turnovers and were penalized 13 times for 102 yards. They were also hurt by Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who burned his former team for 126 yards in his second game against the Eagles since his unceremonious release.
But the Eagles still had the chance for the last laugh. The game was tied at 24 when they reclaimed possession at their 15-yard line with 2 minutes, 36 seconds remaining and all three timeouts. Sanchez drove the Eagles into Washington territory, where he faced third and 4 from the Redskins 48-yard line.
The Redskins blitzed Sanchez. But he rushed a pass that went behind Maclin. Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland dove for the interception, thwarting the Eagles' scoring chance and giving themselves a chance at a winning drive.
"I just kind of missed it," Sanchez said of the interception. "It was too bad because some guys had some really good days and we just didn't capitalize for the win."
On the next play, Robert Griffin III hit Pierre Garcon with a short pass and Garcon eluded cornerback Cary Williams and went 23 yards to the Eagles 35. The Eagles' Vinny Curry was also flagged for a roughing-the-passer penalty on the play, giving Washington a first down at the 20 with 1:23 remaining.
The Redskins forced the Eagles to use up their timeouts and drove to the 8 before Forbath's game-winning kick.
Chip Kelly thought Sanchez played well until the interception; the quarterback finished 37 of 50 for 374 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and one fumble. Zach Ertz set a franchise record with 15 catches, while Riley Cooper added two touchdowns. LeSean McCoy rushed 22 times for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Those statistics were overshadowed by the Eagles' own mistakes. They turned the ball over twice in Washington's territory. They scored only three points off two forced turnovers. Kicker Cody Parkey, who has been near perfect this season, missed two makeable field goals. The Eagles were penalized on four of Washington's five scoring drives, including two third-down penalties and a personal foul to help make Washington's game-winning field goal a more high-percentage kick.
"Thirteen penalties and two turnovers is not going to win football games in this league," Kelly said. "I thought we battled back in the game to tie it up, but we did not do enough good things to win. We had 13 penalties, missed two field goals, and had two turnovers. That is not enough to win a football game."
The Eagles turned the ball over on their first drive when Ryan Kerrigan stripped Sanchez on a third-down pass attempt, and Washington kicked a field goal to take the early lead. The Eagles responded by going 79 yards on 10 plays, six of which went to McCoy. He finished the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run.
During the week, Washington coach Jay Gruden said the Redskins couldn't rely on long drives. They needed quick strikes. It helps to have Jackson, as the Eagles could once attest. With Bradley Fletcher on Jackson in one-on-one coverage, Griffin found Jackson for a 51-yard catch deep down the right sideline. Alfred Morris rushed for a 28-yard score on the next play.
Unlike the Redskins, the Eagles were fine with long drives. They scored the only points in the second quarter when they went 93 yards on 15 plays over more than seven minutes. Cooper caught a 3-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 14-10 halftime lead.
Washington scored two third-quarter touchdowns to take a 10-point lead. Both Eagles drives during that period finished with Parkey's missed field goals.
The Redskins' first touchdown drive was extended when Brandon Graham was flagged for roughing the passer after the Eagles stopped the Redskins on third and 4 at the Eagles 16-yard line. The second touchdown drive came after Jackson burned Fletcher on a 55-yard pass. The Eagles then benched Fletcher in favor of Nolan Carroll, but it was too late - Jackson had already showed what the Eagles released.
"It was very special for myself, being there last year and with everything that happened, for us to come out on top," Jackson said.
Cooper caught a clutch 16-yard third-down touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut Washington's lead to three points, and Parkey connected on a field goal to tie the game with 6 minutes, 17 seconds remaining.
After the Eagles forced a punt, Sanchez had a chance to play hero. Instead, he threw the ill-fated interception. An Eagles season that once seemed promising might now be empty. The Eagles can blame only themselves.
"It's not a huge secret on what it takes to be successful," center Jason Kelce said. "But actually going out to do it is the challenge. And we haven't met the challenge this year. We've failed too often."
Mistakes Doom Eagles
The Eagles gained nearly 500 yards of total offense yet lost to a 3-11 team. Here are the biggest mistakes that added up to a loss:
13 penalties for 102 yards, including six that resulted in Redskins first downs.
Cody Parkey missed two field goals in the third quarter.
Mark Sanchez fumbled on the game's first possession, leading to a Redskins field goal.
Sanchez was intercepted with 1 minute, 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter, leading to Washington's game-winning field goal with five seconds remaining.
After the Redskins fumbled the kickoff to start the second half, the Eagles failed to get even a first down before the first of Parkey's misses.EndText