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October 16, 2016

First half observations: Redskins 21, Eagles 14

Eagles NFL

Coming off a loss in Detroit, Sunday's Eagles matchup against 3-2 Washington (winners of three in a row) set up as a critical game in the surprisingly competitive race for the NFC East crown. The last time the Eagles won at FedEx Field was all the way back in September 2013, Chip Kelly's debut on Monday Night Football.

Despite being completely outplayed on both offense and defense — Washington outgained the Eagles 285 to 42 — the Birds only find themselves down 21-14. Here's what I saw:

The good

• The Eagles were in desperate need of a spark, and the rookie provided it. Down 14-0, Wendell Smallwood took one back to the house:

Thank God for the ridiculous NFL celebration rules, huh?

• Despite being thoroughly dominated on both sides of the ball, the Eagles made the two biggest plays of the half. Right after the Smallwood return, Malcolm Jenkins accepted this lolly pop from Kirk Cousins and took it back to the house:

I like that.

The bad

• Not all that surprisingly, Halapoulivaati Vaitai had some trouble out of the chute. It isn't "Osi Umenyiora v. Winston Justice" bad yet, but there are shades of that Sunday night in 2007. On the Eagles first series, "Big V" was bull rushed by Ryan Kerrigan, who sacked Carson Wentz and submarined the drive. Kerrigan added another sack later.

• Jalen Mills against DeSean Jackson is single coverage is a win for Washington almost every time. Good on Jimmy for pointing that out before the game:

Jackson finished with four catches for 55 yards.

The protection was very poor at times, but this was Carson Wentz's worst first half by far in his young career. Washington forced him to go a measly 3-8 for 23 yards.

• Good route combo by Washington, and Jenkins got beat by Jamison Crowder for the touchdown:

The ugly

• I can sympathize with you, Carson. This is roughly what my rec league basketball shirt looks like by the third week:

• In the first half, the Eagles committed five penalties for 50 yards. Unfortunately, Pete Morelli isn't to blame for the Eagles lack of discipline (or can he?).

• Nigel Bradham had Cousins dead to rights along the sideline on third down, and a terrible angle allowed one of the slowest quarterbacks in the league to scramble for six yards and a first down. Washington went 80 more yards for a touchdown on a drive that should've been ended by Bradham.

• Second straight week that Fletcher Cox turned three points into seven with a penalty in the red zone. That can't happen.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann