After a review of the game tape, here is a look at three key Eagles in Sunday's 10-3 loss to the Washington Redskins.
When the rookie receiver looks back on what has been an outstanding first season, this isn't going to be the game he'll want to remember. Jackson finished with two catches for 14 yards, but he'll be remembered more for four drops and a trio of plays in which he was open but couldn't catch the eye of quarterback Donovan McNabb. He also missed some time with sore ribs.
The Redskins were physical with the undersized Jackson from the start. On the Eagles' first offensive series, linebacker H.B. Blades shoved the wide receiver to the ground at the line of scrimmage on a third-and-2 play. Jackson managed to get up and become a check-down receiver for McNabb, who was under tremendous pressure from defensive end Andre Carter. Jackson made the catch and picked up 8 yards for the first down. That would be his longest catch of the game.
A few plays later, Jackson's inability to get in front of linebacker Rocky McIntosh led to a 1-yard loss on a run by Brian Westbrook. Redskins linebacker London Fletcher should have been flagged for pass interference on the following play because he hit Jackson before McNabb's throw arrived. But instead it was just another example of how physical the Redskins wanted to be with Jackson.
On the next play, Jackson burned cornerback DeAngelo Hall at the line of scrimmage, but McNabb misread the play, throwing deep over the middle to a covered Jason Avant instead. If McNabb had hit Jackson, he would have picked up at least 40 yards and maybe scored a touchdown.
The Redskins continued to get physical with Jackson at the start of the second half when safety LaRon Landry laid a jarring hit on the rookie receiver on an incomplete pass over the middle. Jackson left the field and did not return until the next series. After Brian Westbrook's 47-yard reception gave the Eagles a first down at the Washington 12-yard line, Jackson slipped behind Landry in the back of the end zone. McNabb again missed the open rookie receiver and threw an errant pass to Avant that was nearly intercepted.
Jackson made his second and final catch of the game, a 6-yarder on a first-down play from the Eagles' 3-yard line, with just over 11 minutes left in the game. The remainder of the day was a disaster for the rookie.
On the Eagles' next series, Jackson ran past cornerback Shawn Springs and had a chance for a huge play, but McNabb never saw him. The rookie was obviously disturbed afterward, throwing his arms in the air. McNabb threw to Jackson on the next play, but the rookie dropped the football, costing the Eagles a first down. McNabb went right back to Jackson on the next play, but the throw was low.
When the Eagles got the ball back at their own 20 on their next offensive series, Jackson got open along the left sideline but dropped a pass from McNabb that would have been good for a 45-yard gain. The final throw in the rookie's direction came with 57 seconds remaining. Jackson got behind Hall in the end zone, but couldn't pull in a perfectly thrown pass by McNabb in what would be the Eagles' best chance to tie the game.
The Eagles' fourth-year guard played with a sprained ankle and played well. It could easily be argued that he has been the team's best lineman all season.
On a third-and-2 play during the Eagles' opening series, Herremans picked up an inside stunt by Jason Taylor, giving McNabb some extra time to throw for a first down. On a first-down play on the next series, Herremans made a great second-tier block on McIntosh, springing Brian Westbrook for a 12-yard gain. It was proof that the Eagles' linemen could run-block against the Redskins even if offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and head coach Andy Reid didn't want to call running plays.
Herremans' worst moment probably came on a third-and-3 play from the Redskins' 5-yard line late in the third quarter. The guard tripped over teammate Tra Thomas as he tried to get outside on a screen pass to Westbrook. A missed block by tight end L.J. Smith and Herremans' inability to get outside allowed safety Chris Horton to stop Westbrook short of the first down, forcing the Eagles to settle for a field goal and their only points of the game.
On the Sunday after being named to the Pro Bowl, the Eagles' prized free agent didn't make the play that had to be made. That's the only thing Samuel will be remembered for in this game.
In truth, the Redskins didn't go after Samuel too often. Rookie Devin Thomas made a 17-yard catch in front of Samuel in the first quarter, and that was the only reception he allowed.
He probably should expect a fine, however, for a helmet-to-helmet tackle he made on Ladell Betts after the Redskins running back picked up a first down on a third-and-6 screen play with just over five minutes left in the first half.
Samuel's big failure was a drop that could have swung the momentum with 11 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the game. Blitzing safety Quintin Mikell forced an errant third-down throw by quarterback Jason Campbell, and Samuel sprinted from the 35 to the 39 with an easy interception falling in his direction.
A catch by the cornerback would have given the Eagles the ball at their own 43 on a day the Redskins were dominating the field-position battle. Instead, Samuel let the throw slip through his hands, and Redskins punter Ryan Plackemeier pinned the Eagles' struggling offense at the 3-yard line.