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December 11, 2016

First-half observations: Eagles 13, Washington 7

Eagles NFL

After a couple of embarrassing performances on both sides of the ball, the Eagles began the home portion of their NFC East schedule on Sunday at The Linc against the Washington Professional Football Team. Earlier in the season, the Eagles were pretty much dominated in Landover by their division rivals, even if the final margin was only seven points.

In what was an up-and-down half, the Eagles are playing better football against a team that has won four straight games against them. Doug Pederson's team headed to the locker room with a 13-7 lead. Here's what I saw:

The good

• The Eagles got three points out of their opening drive, and in particular, it appeared as if Zach Ertz was running harder after the catch than, well, ever. The tight end had a couple of grabs for 24 yards, and Carson Wentz was able to get into a half-decent rhythm early on:

Ertz finished the half with five catches for 65 yards.

• Nelson Agholor did a good thing! A couple of good things, actually!

• Against what has been an active Washington pass rush (see the picture above), Wentz has done an excellent job moving in and out of the pocket. Outside of the one brutal decision, the rookie had a very good first half, finishing 18-24 for 177 yards with one touchdown and one pick. He made a nice toss to Darren Sproles to put the Birds ahead at the end of the half.

The bad

• It was almost like Jason Peters didn't think Pederson should have been going for it on 4th and 3 deep in Washington territory. The veteran false started, the Eagles' league-leading 45th pre-snap penalty this season, and Pederson sent out Caleb Sturgis and the field goal unit.

• Eagles fans wanted Pederson to challenge the Pierre Garcon catch on the sideline, but I thought it wouldn't have been worth it. Rob Kelley then gave Washington a 7-6 lead with a 22-yard run right through the heart of the Eagles defense:

The ugly

• Little things add up. On the Eagles second drive, Wentz lofted a beautiful ball into the corner of the end zone over two defenders right into the hands of Jordan Matthews. And the Eagles top receiver wasn't able to drag his toe for a touchdown, a play you just have to make.

Later in the series, Wentz threw a brutal interception. It wasn't a great route by Ertz, but from here, it is a terrible decision with very poor mechanics from the No. 2-overall pick. Plays like that just can't happen (and hopefully they will be eliminated in the offseason), but to be fair, Wentz would have had a touchdown pass if Matthews had helped him out:

• The Eagles have the loudest uprights in the NFL:

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann