Giants eliminated from playoff contention; Redskins win NFC East

Sunday, December 27, 2015
(LM Otero)
LM Otero-AP

PHILADELPHIA -- The Giants have been eliminated from playoff contention after the Washington Redskins beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night.

Worst to first in a mediocre division counts the same.

Kirk Cousins threw four touchdown passes and had a season-high 365 yards and the Redskins beat the Eagles 38-24 Saturday night to clinch the NFC East title.

Only 4-12 last season, the Redskins (8-7) began their turnaround when Cousins rallied them from a 24-0 first-half deficit to a 31-30 win over Tampa Bay on Oct. 25. They've won three straight for the first time since a seven-game winning streak helped them secure the division in 2012 in Robert Griffin III's rookie year.

DeAngelo Hall returned DeMarco Murray's fumble 17 yards for a momentum-changing TD in the third quarter. Cousins threw TD passes to Chris Thompson and Pierre Garcon and a pair to Jordan Reed.

The Eagles (6-9) entered the game in control of their playoff hopes. They needed to beat the Redskins and Giants next week to win the East. Washington's win also eliminated New York (6-8).

Two teams have clinched division crowns in Philadelphia in six days. Arizona won the NFC West with a 40-17 win over the Eagles last Sunday night.

While the Redskins and coach Jay Gruden head to the playoffs, the Eagles and coach Chip Kelly face a challenging offseason. Kelly took control of personnel decisions last year and overhauled a team that went 10-6 in each of his first two seasons.

It clearly didn't work out.

Meanwhile, Gruden made a gutsy call in August to bench Griffin and give the starting job to Cousins.

It paid off.

Cousins was outstanding down the stretch with 16 TD passes and only two interceptions in the last seven games. He showed resolve after a mental blunder at the end of the first half cost the Redskins at least three points.

Cousins took a knee with no time-outs and 6 seconds left from the Eagles 6 with a 16-10 lead. He realized his mistake and tried to spike the ball, but the clock ran out. He made up for it in the second half.

Cousins tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Thompson to give Washington a 23-10 lead. He converted three third-down passes on the series after Jaylen Watkins dropped an interception.

The Eagles answered quickly as Murray ran in from the 4 to cut it to 23-17.

But Murray then dropped a pitch, Hall picked it up and ran it back for a 30-17 lead late in the third quarter.

The Eagles missed a chance to take the lead early in the second quarter when Sam Bradford overthrew a wide-open Zach Ertz on third-and-9. It would've been a 60-yard TD.

They missed another opportunity on the following series when Nelson Agholor dropped a 28-yard TD pass and settled for Caleb Sturgis' 34-yard field goal that cut it to 13-10.

After going three-and-out on their first possession, the Redskins scored touchdowns on the next two. Cousins connected with Reed over the middle on a 22-yard scoring pass to cut it to 7-6. Dustin Hopkins missed the extra point wide left.

Cousins then hit Reed over the middle again for a 12-yard TD pass and a 13-7 lead.

Ertz fumbled near midfield, Dashon Goldson recovered and returned it to the Eagles 35. That set up a 28-yard field goal by Hopkins that gave the Redskins a 16-10 lead.

The Eagles quickly drove 80 yards on the opening drive and Ryan Mathews ran in from the 1 for a 7-0 lead.