Disaster does not begin to describe this.

When have the Eagles ever come up so inept in a big spot?

And when has it ever been so agonizingly close? The Eagles' season effectively ended with Reggie Brown catching a pass that was less than a foot from the goal line as time expired. It would have tied the game. It didn't. Replay confirmed that it didn't. Eagles lose.

After the Tampa Bay Bucs lost at home to San Diego, the Eagles held their destiny in their hands. They held it for about 3 hours. Then they dropped it, stepped on it, smashed it completely and ground the pieces into dust. That is what they did in losing to the Washington Redskins, 10-3.

They forgot how to play, it seems, on offense. They forgot everything that happened in the past three weeks of victories. They forgot to convert on third down. They forgot to run the ball for a loooong stretch of the second half. The quarterback, Donovan McNabb, was ordinary at best. And then there were the big plays that were not made. Here are three: a midfield interception dropped by Asante Samuel that would have flipped the field in the fourth quarter, and then two loooong passes that DeSean Jackson dropped near the end, the second one -- admittedly a tough grab -- in the end zone with about a minute to go.

The truth is, the Eagles got what they deserved yesterday against a reeling Redskins team that would have rolled over and died if the Eagles had smacked them early. That's just the reality. But the Eagles let them hang around and then they couldn't generate any significant offense the rest of the way.

They could have been a contender.

They were, for about 3 hours.

Then they dropped their dream. And now only the mathematicians think the Eagles are still alive in the NFC wildcard playoff picture.