Sam Bradford finally completed some deep balls -- four of them in all -- but another terribly slow start plagued the Eagles in a 23-20 loss to the Redskins at FedEx Field.
The Eagles surged ahead in the second half thanks to three TD passes, two of them bombs, by Bradford. But a defense which had held Washington in check all afternoon didn't have one final drive in it, allowing the game-winning TD from Kirk Cousins to Pierre Garcon with 26 seconds left.
Debuting kicker Caleb Sturgis' misses were sorely felt in this one. He failed on a 33-yard field goal at the end of the first half and on his first extra-point attempt. Those four points would have been helpful on Washington's final drive.
The Eagles limp back home 1-3. The Redskins are 2-2.
Another sluggish start
Bradford was 7 for 13 for 161 yards and three TDs directly after halftime, but had another extremely slow start. He did not complete a pass in the first quarter, and entered halftime 5 for 10 for 75 yards with three sacks.
The Eagles have been sluggish in the first half of three of their four games this season. Dropped passes, missed assignments by the offensive line, bad play-calling ... it all came back to haunt the Eagles on Sunday.
One strange call by Chip Kelly stuck out: After Bradford's 30-yard completion to Nelson Agholor in the second quarter gave the Eagles momentum and possession in Redskins territory, a double-reverse from DeMarco Murray to Agholor was fumbled. It was just like the Dallas game, when Malcolm Jenkins' long fumble return and momentum was negated by a fumble on the very next play.
Bradford was 0 for 3 in the Eagles' first three games when attempting passes 20-plus yards downfield. Against the Redskins, he completed four of them. He hit Agholor for 30 yards in the second quarter, connected with Riley Cooper on a 62-yard touchdown, completed a 31-yarder to Jordan Matthews, and hit Miles Austin in stride for a 39-yard TD.
Bradford needed that downfield success because he was taking on a depleted, suspect secondary, and in the first half he looked 100 percent benchable. Few would have questioned Kelly if he removed Bradford after his statuesque presence in the first half led to several sacks.
But the QB bought himself some more time with an admirable second-half performance.
Try out some more kickers
Sturgis' misses loomed large. The field goal and the PAT were both gimmes.
The Eagles reportedly worked out six kickers last Monday. Don't be surprised if they do so again Monday.
Jason Peters, Mychal Kendricks, Byron Maxwell and Brandon Bair all left with injuries. None of them returned.
Peters aggravated the quad issue he suffered in the Week 3 over the Jets. Matt Tobin shifted from right guard to left tackle with Peters out and Dennis Kelly stepped in at right guard for Tobin.
Kendricks aggravated his hamstring injury on the Eagles' first defensive series. Maxwell (quad) was also hurt on that drive.
Bair left with a groin injury.
Lane Johnson stayed on the ground after an extra point attempt, but walked off under his own power and returned to the game.
Bradford limped off the field after a second-half series but had his right ankle taped and didn't miss a play.
All that will be remembered was the inability of the defense to prevent the game-winning TD, but red-zone D was a strength for the Eagles until the final drive.
Washington drove 77 yards on 13 plays in its opening drive but had to settle for a field goal. Later in the first quarter, the 'Skins again reached the Eagles' 20 but were forced to kick.
After the Eagles tied the score at 13 midway through the third quarter, a nine-play Redskins drive ended at the Eagles' 15.
The importance of the Eagles' limiting the 'Skins in the condensed area was shown in the fourth quarter when they clung to a four-point lead.
The Redskins' first touchdown was set up by a ticky-tack pass interference call in the end zone against rookie cornerback Eric Rowe, who replaced the injured Maxwell. Rowe did not appear to interfere much with the receiver, but he got his head around late and made slight contact. A lot of times, that play goes uncalled. But a rookie who is late to track the ball doesn't get the benefit of the doubt, it appears.
It's hard to blame the defense too much for that game-winning score. The Redskins held the ball for over 41 minutes of game time.
This was a problem. The Eagles gave up first downs to Washington on 3rd-and-19, 3rd-and-13 and 3rd-and-8, and allowed 15 yards on a 2nd-and-16 that led to another first down.
The Eagles are home for a 1 p.m. game against the struggling New Orleans Saints next Sunday.