Five reasons the Eagles beat the Redskins
Carson Wentz's arm and legs both played key roles in Monday night's win.
Looking back at five of the more significant reasons for the Eagles' 34-24 win Monday night over the Redskins:
Running on empty
Opponents are averaging just 17.6 rushing attempts against the Eagles, the fewest in the league. Just one of their first seven foes has run the ball more than 19 times (Carolina).
Part of the reason for that has been the Eagles' fast starts. They've outscored their opponents in the first quarter, 44-9. But a bigger reason is that the Eagles have been damn good against the run. That continued Monday night.
Even though they were missing two of their three starting linebackers after Jordan Hicks ruptured an Achilles tendon on the second play of the game, they held the Redskins to 3.4 yards per carry in the first three quarters.
Washington finished with 75 yards on 18 carries. Nineteen of those yards came on a pair of runs by quarterback Kirk Cousins. Another 15 came on a meaningless gain by Chris Thompson on a third-and-25 play late in the fourth quarter. The Redskins had just two rushing first downs. They are the fifth team this season that the Eagles have limited to three or fewer rushing first downs.
The Redskins have to run the ball to be effective. In their three wins, over the Rams, Raiders and 49ers, they averaged 35.3 rushing attempts.
Jay Gruden essentially waved the run-game surrender flag in the first half when he called pass plays on three successive third-and-shorts. The Redskins failed to convert any of them.
Carson Wentz wants to be known as a thrower rather than a runner, and given the fact that he's fourth in the NFL in passing and leads the league in touchdown passes, that shouldn't be a problem.
But his ability to move the chains with his legs is an invaluable side skill. Wentz rushed for a career-high 63 yards on eight carries against the Redskins.
He had five of the Eagles' eight rushing first downs, giving him 15 for the season. The only quarterback in the league with more is the Panthers' Cam Newton.
Three of Wentz's rushing first downs came on third down. He converted a third-and-1 in the second quarter with a quarterback sneak two plays before his 64-yard scoring pass to Mack Hollins.
He ran for 21 yards on a third-and-3 zone read four plays before his 9-yard touchdown pass to running back Corey Clement.
And then there was his highlight-reel escape from what appeared to be a certain sack on a third-and-8 early in the fourth quarter. He gained 17 yards on that play to keep alive a drive that would end with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor that gave the Eagles a 14-point lead with 11 minutes left.
Wentz now has 26 rushing first downs in his last 14 games dating to last season.
This was the kind of night Wentz had: Even his one interception turned out to be a good play. His 54-yard heave for Torrey Smith from his end zone on second-and-31 during the Eagles' first possession served as the equivalent of a really good Donnie Jones punt with no return, and got the Eagles out of an early field-position hole.
Wentz completed 17 of 25 passes, averaged 10.7 yards per attempt and threw four touchdown passes for the second time in three games. He has thrown 11 in the last three games.
He continued to have success with the deep ball, completing three of six passes of 20 yards or more for 131 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown strike to rookie Mack Hollins. In the last three games, Wentz has completed seven of his 13 attempts of 20-plus yards after completing just five of 22 in the first four games.
He connected with his favorite receiver, tight end Zach Ertz, on a 46-yard completion on the possession right after his touchdown throw to Hollins, then finished the drive with a 4-yard scoring pass to Ertz.
Early in the third quarter, on third-and-goal from the Washington 9, he somehow managed to dance between the raindrops of a heavy rush and deliver an off-balance but accurate throw over the head of linebacker Zach Brown and into the hands of rookie running back Corey Clement for a touchdown.
Then, in the fourth quarter, with the Eagles clinging to a one-touchdown lead, he changed plays at the line of scrimmage and hit Nelson Agholor on a 10-yard post between cornerback Kendall Fuller and safety Montae Nicholson.
Without a run game to keep the Eagles at bay, Kirk Cousins was pressured most of the night. He was sacked four times, including twice by rookie Derek Barnett, and seldom had much time to throw.
Jim Schwartz, who blitzed Cousins on 13 of 44 pass plays (29.5 percent) in Week 1, sent extra rushers after him on 12 of 44 pass plays Monday night.
Cousins was 5-for-10 for 42 yards, with an interception and two sacks, when the Eagles blitzed him. In the Eagles' two wins over the Redskins, Cousins had a 23.1 passer rating and averaged just 5.0 yards per attempt against the blitz.
The Eagles, who finished 24th in red-zone touchdown rate last season (49.1 percent), are third this year (65.2). They converted three of four trips inside the 20 into touchdowns Monday night.
Wentz was 4-for-5 in the red zone with three touchdown passes. He already has 12 red-zone TDs, which equals the number he had all last season.
Ertz's 4-yard touchdown catch at the end of first half was his fifth red-zone TD reception, which ties him with the Packers' Jordy Nelson and the Texans' DeAndre Hopkins for the league lead.
The Eagles have converted 12 of 17 red-zone opportunities (70.5 percent) into touchdowns during their five-game winning streak.