REMEMBER Chris Baker? Jason Peters just barely does.
The Eagles' left tackle was asked yesterday about his Sept. 21 ejection from this season's previous Eagles-Redskins game, avenging Baker's blindside block that leveled quarterback Nick Foles.
"Hadn't even thought about it," Peters said yesterday, as the Birds prepared for Saturday's NFC East rematch in Landover, Md. "We're going down there to win . . . Point blank. Whatever we've got to do to win, that's what we're going down to do."
Peters said that since Baker is a nose tackle, they probably won't encounter one another that much.
"I probably won't even get to block him," Peters said.
Sept. 21 seems more than just 3 months ago, somehow.
"It almost feels like another season," said Andrew Gardner, who began that game as the Eagles' right tackle, in place of suspended Lane Johnson, and ended it as the left tackle, after Peters was ejected. (Peters was later fined $10,000 for punching Baker, who was fined $8,268 for grabbing Peters' face mask.) Somewhere in there, Jason Kelce left with an abdominal injury that would require surgery, and David Molk began his run at center. Dennis Kelly was at left guard, with Evan Mathis injured.
"We've obviously been watching some of that film, in preparation for this game," Gardner continued. "Yeah, it really does seem like a long time ago."
Foles, now sidelined with a broken collarbone, played what figures to stand as his best game of the season (27-for-41, 325 yards, no interceptions, three touchdowns), Foles rallying an inexperienced, patchwork line to a pivotal TD after the play on which he was slammed to the ground. Foles had thrown what initially was ruled an interception, but actually was an incomplete pass.
Just after presumed interceptor Bashaud Breeland was tackled, Baker blindsided Foles, who had trotted over in case he needed to try to make a pick-six-preventing tackle.
An earlier Baker hit had left Foles flexing his left shoulder, and there was speculation that area bothered Foles right up until he broke his left collarbone on a sack in Houston Nov. 2.
"He wanted us to rally. He's a beast. Nick's a beast," Jeremy Maclin said that day, after catching eight passes for 154 yards and the touchdown that gave the Eagles the lead for good in their 37-34 win. "Dude took a cheap shot. Couldn't hold [Foles] down."
Of course, the NFL eventually ruled it was not a cheap shot, reversing years of rulings to the contrary on such plays, but again, this is no longer a hot topic among the Eagles, who have a more pressing mission, trying to keep their fading playoff hopes alive.
"There was some animosity during the game, but I think if you look back at it, really, what Chris Baker did, that's the way you want your defensive linemen to play . . . you want your defensive linemen to get a hit on the quarterback any way they can," Kelce said yesterday. "Obviously, in the heat of the situation, that's our job, to make sure that doesn't happen . . . It really wasn't that cheap of a shot . . . But at the same time, you understand how JP reacted, and I might have had a similar reaction if I was out there."
Kirk Cousins threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns in the Week 3 meeting, but like Foles, he is no longer the starter. Cousins is expected to back up Robert Griffin III, who was out injured in September.
"They're a different team at this point, just like we are," Kelce said of the 3-11 Redskins.
If the 9-5 Eagles miss the playoffs, maybe we'll remember one stat from that day that seemed innocuous at the time - they became the first team in NFL history to win its first three games after trailing by double digits in all three. That was back when the Eagles seemed to get some sort of return TD each week, to bolster their point total (Chris Polk scored on a kickoff return against Washington). Maybe the team that swept into December 9-3 wasn't as good as its record.
LeSean McCoy gained just 22 yards on 19 carries in the first Redskins game, his struggles behind the ragged line giving a glimpse into what the NFL's best 2013 running game was going to look like for much of the early season this year.
"I was the only starter there, and they threw me out, so there was no starters," Peters said, omitting right guard Todd Herremans, now on the shelf after biceps surgery but healthy then. "You look at [the game film], check out their defense, what they ran against us, but that's about it. As far as looking at what we were doing, you can't really do it."
"Today we were watching that tape and just laughing," McCoy said. "The whole line was, like, so many different guys up there. They did a good job. But I think this game will be a little different.
"The situation we're in now, we need wins, and they're a team trying to finish the season out. I've been there. I know that type of role. You want to play hard, but you've probably got your flights already scheduled, where you're going. We're fighting for something."
As tight end Zach Ertz noted, "the first game was [DeSean Jackson's] return, there was a whole lot of hype surrounding him coming back home to the Linc, rightfully so - he's such a great and dynamic player. For this game, we have everything to play for. I don't know how they're looking at the game, but we're looking at it as a playoff game, that if we don't win this game we have very, very little chance of going to the playoffs."
McCoy said he made sure Jackson saw McCoy's tweet this week of himself holding up a cutout of DeSean's face in front of his own, imitating Jackson's voice, pleading for the ball. But he said Saturday won't be much about Jackson for the Eagles, who saw their former Pro Bowl wideout catch an 81-yard TD against them in September.
"We don't have anything against him, RG3, none of that stuff. We just want to win the game and get out of there," McCoy said.