No debate: Washington is on a roll
PHILADELPHIA - A few of the Washington Redskins were walking off the field, high-fiving, hugging, and celebrating another road victory when they looked up at disgruntled fans and gave them another reason to pout.
"There's a new Beast of the East," players shouted.
That's no exaggeration.
Clinton Portis ran for 145 yards and one touchdown and wide receiver Antwaan Randle El threw a TD pass as the Redskins beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 23-17, yesterday.
Washington (4-1) has made it through the first five games under new coach Jim Zorn better than anyone expected. The Redskins went to Dallas last week and handed the Cowboys their first loss, 26-24. They've played all three division rivals on the road and their next three opponents - Cleveland, Detroit, and St. Louis - are a combined 1-11.
And Washington's offense didn't commit a turnover for the fifth straight game.
"I think the NFL was trying to throw us to the fire, to get rid of the 'Skins out of this division," Portis said. "I think that we play our best football with our backs up against the wall."
The Eagles (2-3) are close to having to look ahead to next season. They were the only NFC East team to miss the playoffs in 2007, finishing last for the second time in three years. With quarterback Donovan McNabb healthy coming into this season, they were hoping to make a Super Bowl run. Instead, they're buried in last place again.
"I was embarrassed the last two weeks," said McNabb, who was 17 for 29 passing for 196 yards. "Two teams that we should not have lost to."
DeSean Jackson had a 68-yard punt return for a score, but the Eagles couldn't generate much offense. Brian Westbrook, back after missing a game with an ankle injury, had just 84 total yards.
Meanwhile, Portis piled up the yards against the league's best run defense. The Eagles had allowed just 53.8 per game on the ground.
"Clinton Portis would say this: He doesn't do all that running by himself," Zorn said. "Our offensive line, they were coming off the ball, they were really doing a nice job communicating. It wasn't as though they were playing a real soft defense, either."
Shaun Suisham kicked three field goals beyond 40 yards, helping the Redskins overcome a 14-0 deficit, and Jason Campbell threw for 176 yards.
Portis ran in from the 4 to give the Redskins a 23-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. Washington started the drive at the Eagles' 43 after a 28-yard punt return by Randle El and a personal foul penalty.
The Eagles went nearly 30 minutes without getting a first down and had four straight three-and-outs until finally putting together a long drive. However, they couldn't punch it in after reaching the 2. Westbrook was stopped for no gain and then lost 3 yards, forcing the Eagles to settle for a 23-yard field goal by David Akers that cut their deficit to 23-17.
Washington took its first lead at 16-14 on Randle El's 18-yard TD pass to Chris Cooley early in the third quarter. It was the first TD allowed by the Eagles at home in four games. A quarterback at Indiana, Randle El has four career TD passes, including two with the Redskins.