PHILADELPHIA -- The Washington Redskins did what they wanted, moving the ball up and down the field, scoring 34 points, connecting on big plays. They also stopped Philadelphia Eagles' running game, not to mention the Eagles' dangerous screen game.
And, yet, it wasn't enough. The Redskins don't necessarily invent ways to lose -- special teams blunders have cost them numerous games in the past. They just keep finding ways to rob themselves of chances to win.
This isn't about burying the Redskins because they lost 37-34 on the road against a team many – read, everyone – picked to win the division. Washington certainly can feel good about certain aspects of this loss. That is, unless it wants to do more than just regain self-esteem after last seasson's 3-13 record and actually rebound with a winning season.
They showed resiliency in driving 87 yards for a touchdown after giving up a 102-yard kickoff return. They allowed the Eagles to start controlling the game, only to force field goals, get a huge play on offense and put themselves in position to possibly win. They lost key starters, again, and continued to fight. Tough not to like the mentality this team possesses. It'll help them, if they can stay healthy.
But when you're a team trying to spring an upset, you make it tougher on yourself by: committing 10 penalties (for 131 yards); allowing kickoff returns for touchdowns; missing chip-shot field goals.
It's good that their kicker made 18 straight field goals. But he missed a 33-yarder that would have given Washington the lead. It's good that the defense shut down the two most potent players on Philadelphia's offense. But the Redskins couldn't pressure quarterback Nick Foles, who managed to throw for 325 yards, with 154 going to receiver Jeremy Maclin.
The Redskins could be 2-1 ... heck, they could be 3-0 ... but self-inflicted wounds prevented one win and blocked another. That's why they're 1-2. In their two losses, the special teams have had an extra point blocked, a punt blocked for a touchdown, allowed a kick return for a score and missed a field goal. That's 21 points. That's 21 too many for a team desperate to shed the horrid memories of the 2013 season.
"There's a lot of things to like," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "The things I don't like was the special teams, obviously the big plays and then the penalties were unnecessary things that we have to address. Things that we can correct we will correct. But I can't keep saying that at a postgame news conference after we lose. We have to get them corrected for us to get this thing turned around.
"We're going to be in a lot of these close games the next three weeks and penalties will cost you a lot."
They wasted a terrific effort by the offense, with quarterback Kirk Cousins throwing for 427 yards and three touchdowns.
"We always knew what we had [offensively]," Redskins tackle Trent Williams said. "We knew we'd be tough for any defense to stop. Today we did really well. We played a good game offensively. Sad to say a couple plays we could have made that could have helped us win the game. We have to build off it."
The parts are there. The mindset appears to be as well. But to win games in the NFL it takes more than that; it takes making plays at the right time. In the fourth quarter the Redskins missed a field goal, tossed an interception and failed to gain a yard after getting possession at the Eagles' 41-yard line, trailing by three points.
They had a chance to win. They had a chance to make a statement. Instead, they reminded us once again that they're close ... and not yet good enough.