Desean Jackson caught eight passes, including two touchdown receptions, for 154 yards, and the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Washington Redskins 32-27.
Jackson had a successful return to Lincoln Financial Field, where he began his NFL career and spent six seasons after being drafted by the Eagles with the 49th pick in the NFL Draft. The 12-year veteran caught two touchdown passes of over 50 yards (51 and 53, to be exact), moving into second all-time for such receptions. He passes Randy Moss and now trails only Jerry Rice in NFL history.
But before the Desean Jackson fireworks, it was a slow start for the Eagles, who were projected as ten point favorites over Washington prior to kickoff.
In the first quarter, Washington received the opening kickoff and marched down the field, using less than five minutes to of game clock to score on a 48-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis, who replaced starter Jordan Reed. Reed was ruled out earlier in the week as he continues to deal with concussion symptoms.
That first drive set the tone for the remainder of the first quarter, as the Redskins sucked the air of anticipation and excitement out of Lincoln Financial Field, leaving Eagles fans relatively quiet. Washington scored on its first three offensive possessions, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal, stretching the lead to 17-0. During that time, the Eagles ran 20 plays-the exact same number of plays the Redskins ran- which resulted in two punts and a turnover on downs.
Momentum shifted early in the second quarter, as the Eagles forced a Redskins’ three-and-out, putting the Philadelphia offense back on the field. The Eagles needed five plays, just two of which held consequence, to get on the board for the first time in the 2019 season. Carson Wentz capped the drive with his first long connection to his new deep threat, scoring from 51-yards out, cutting the Washington lead to 17-7.
The Redskins scored the final three points of the first half, taking 20-7 lead into the locker room, as Dustin Hopkins was true on a 48-yard field goal.
“A tale of two halves”, as cliche as it may sound, was best exemplified in South Philadelphia on September 8, 2019. The Eagles that emerged from the tunnel to begin the second half looked focused, yet remained poised, despite trailing by 13 with 30 minutes of football to be played.
Wentz returned a marching Redskins’ drive with one of his own to open the half, using 12 plays and over seven minutes before rolling to his right and finding Alshon Jeffrey in the endzone, cutting the Washington lead to six.
The exasperated air that filled the stadium as the Eagles trotted off the field was replaced by that aforementioned buzz once more. It intensified as the defense stifled Case Keenum and the Redskins offense once more, forcing another punt after three plays. The Eagles then used just three plays of their own, two of which were incomplete passes, before Wentz hooked up with Jackson deep for the second time, taking the lead for the first time.
Same formula, same result for the Eagles over the next two drives, as the quickly pushed the Redskins offense off the field before Wentz connected with Jeffrey from two yards out to extend the lead to seven, 27-20, on the first play of the third quarter. The slinging, sideways toss was eventually changed to a two yard run, taking away Wentz’s fourth touchdown of the day. The nullified passing touchdown would have marked the first time since 2019 that Wentz three for four scores in a game. Wentz finished the afternoon with 313 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Head Coach Doug Pederson elected to go for two, looking for a two score lead after the Jeffrey touchdown. His decision paid off, as the Eagles stretched the lead to nine.
A third consecutive punt, spanning ten offensive plays, took the Washington offense off the field once more, and led to the most methodical Eagles drive of the afternoon. Philadelphia ran 19 offensive plays, chewing up nearly nine minutes in the fourth quarter, before Jake Elliott kicked his lone field goal, a chip shot from 22-yards out. The three points extended the lead to 32-20. The explosive offense, which was held to just 28 total yards in the first quarter, rattled off 25 consecutive points on their way to that 13 point lead.
Washington wasn’t finished, as the stagnant offense suddenly was rejuvenated with just over three minutes left in the game. Case Keenum took what the Eagles defense gave him, which, at points, was too much, as he led the Redskins down the field on 16 plays. The extended drive resulted in a Trey Quinn touchdown from four yards out, cutting the Philadelphia lead to five.
The onside kick attempt was unsuccessful, and Carson Wentz knelt down in victory formation to win the season opener. The Week 1 victory is the fourth consecutive for the Eagles, and marks the second time in three years that Philadelphia defeated Washington to start the season.
Next week, the 0-1 Redskins will play in Washington for the first time, as another divisional rival, the Dallas Cowboys, come to town. The 1-0 Eagles hit the road for the first time, as they’ll take on the 0-1 Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday night.
- By Tyler Zulli, 97.5 The Fanatic producer and contributor