Eagles in playoff contention with victory over Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- The Philadelphia Eagles were outgained,

outmuscled and nearly blew an 18-point lead.

They were able to win -- and keep pace in the playoff race --

because the Washington Redskins also led in two other vital

categories: turnovers and bonehead plays.

Scouts Inc.'s take ...

Eagles quarterback Jeff Garcia (right) had his second straight solid performance. His numbers weren't huge (15-for-23, 164 yards), but he did not commit a turnover and did a great job protecting the ball. He also did a good job spreading the ball around -- he completed passes to seven different receivers.

Redskins QB Jason Campbell had a rocky first half (two INTs) as the Redskins tried a more balanced approach instead of just running the ball. In the second half, Campbell played better in the passing game and rallied the Redskins. The Eagles' defense struggled to get the Redskins offense off the field in the second half.

Rookie linebacker Omar Gaither got his first interception,

Michael Lewis returned a pickoff 84 yards for a touchdown, and

Brian Dawkins made a crucial fourth-quarter sack in Sunday's 21-19

victory, keeping the Eagles (7-6) tied with Atlanta and the Giants

in the tussle for the NFC's two wild-card spots.

But the Eagles, who led 21-3 late in the first half, were

dominated in yards (415-263), first downs (20-14) and time of

possession (37:46-22:14). The defense allowed Ladell Betts to run

for a career-high 171 yards, and the offense had only one sustained

scoring drive.

"However you dice it up and look at it, it's a positive -- we

won the game," defensive end Darren Howard said. "But if you keep

having performances like that, sometimes you're going to get

yourself in a bind and you're not going to be able to pull out a

game. Those are the things we have to fix."

The loss mathematically eliminated the Redskins (4-9) from

playoff contention and ensured Joe Gibbs' second losing season in

three years since coming out of retirement. The Hall of Fame coach

will no doubt add a few more aging wrinkles and perhaps question

his own decisions when he reviews a game that included 11

penalties; Jason Campbell's two interceptions; a sack when Campbell

tripped over his own lineman; two dropped interceptions; another

poor game from cornerback Carlos Rogers; and a potential go-ahead

drive that stalled after a first-and-goal at the 3 with the score

21-16 late in the fourth quarter.

"One thing that we're lacking right now, we've got to play

smarter," tackle Chris Samuels said.

On first down, backup running back T.J. Duckett gained nothing.

On second down, a receiver slipped, and the pass went incomplete.

On third down, the Redskins were whistled for 12 men in the huddle

to move the ball back to the 8 -- Gibbs attributed the error to a

shuffling of personnel packages after center Casey Rabach left with

a broken left hand.

Then Dawkins made the sack, forcing Shaun Suisham's fourth field

goal with 4:58 remaining. Betts, the team's most potent weapon,

never touched the ball in the sequence. The Eagles took the ensuing

kickoff and ran out the clock.

"The thing this teaches you is that we can win in any

situation," Dawkins said. "We definitely need to get better at

keeping our foot on people's throats when we get them down, but the

thing that we did defensively, we kept them out of the end zone

except for one play."

Jeff Garcia went 15-for-23 for 164 yards with two touchdown

passes in another solid outing to improve to 2-1 as the starter

since Donovan McNabb's season-ending injury. Brian Westbrook had 88

yards rushing and 38 receiving for the Eagles, who opened a rare

three-game, late-season road stretch against division opponents.

Westbrook is 5 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard rushing season.

Washington's bright spot was Betts, who signed a five-year, $11

million contract extension Friday and had his second career-high

rushing game in as many weeks. Betts, playing regularly following a

season-ending injury to Clinton Portis, had 100 yards before the

two-minute warning of the first half.

Meanwhile, the Eagles were more than content to benefit from

their opponent's self-destruction.

Fifth-round pick Gaither read Campbell's eyes for an

interception that set up a 10-yard touchdown pass to L.J. Smith.

Cornerback Williams James made a perfectly timed play, hitting

Chris Cooley while simultaneously batting the ball in the air for

Lewis' long return that made the score 14-3. A 60-yard pass to

Reggie Brown set up a 3-yard scoring pass to Donte' Stallworth.

Undeterred, the Redskins kept churning out the yards, primarily

with Betts. Two field goals cut the deficit, and a 34-yard pass to

Antwaan Randle El late in the third quarter made the score 21-16,

ending a streak of 21 drives against the Eagles in which the

Redskins failed to score a touchdown.

But the Redskins couldn't complete the comeback.

"I'm sorry that we've lost this many games," Gibbs said.

"That's what we talked about this week: We didn't want to have a

losing record. The way you finish is what people remember; it's the

way you fight, even sometimes if there's nothing but just pride."Game notes
Rabach said he hoped he would be able to play next week,

despite the broken hand. ... Eagles LB Matt McCoy, who started 10

of the 12 first games but has lost his job to Gaither, was inactive

for first time this season. ... Redskins WR Brandon Lloyd, who

upset Gibbs with a helmet-throwing tantrum in last week's game, did

not start for the first time this season and played sparingly. He

caught one 40-yard pass, thrown by Randle El. ... The Eagles have

swept the Redskins four times in the last five years.