Philadelphia, PA (AP) - It's something every team sets out to do when training camp opens every summer. Only one team had ever achieved it. Until now. The Eagles became the second team in NFL history to complete a 16-0 regular season thanks to a 30-3 win over Washington in front of a packed house at Lincoln Financial Field.
"We've been focused and playing well all year long," said Philadelphia Head Coach Andy Reid. "To be able to accomplish this kind of history, and do it in front of the hometown fans is awesome. It's not easy to stay focused like this for a full season, especially when this kind of thing is on the line. I'm proud of what we've done."
"A lot of people were talking about this being the 'Dream Team.' But, it doesn't matter what we look like on paper," said Eagles QB Michael Vick. "It's all about playing the games, and what you do once you get on the field. We've got a lot of talent out there, but we played our butts off. We earned this."
Vick was easily the biggest reason the Birds were able to move the ball on offense in this game. He hurt the Redskins defense from the air, and on the ground. Vick racked up 212 yards passing and slashed through Washington's would-be tacklers for another 171 yards on scrambles. It's the first game all season that the mobile quarterback did so much with his feet.
|VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Cullen Jenkins gets the Eagles on the board with a 28 yard fumble return for a touchdown.|
"That wasn't exactly the game plan, but it was available, and he (Vick) certainly took advantage of it," noted Reid.
With the play of LeSean McCoy all season, Vick hasn't needed to run with the ball often, and that likely led to the quarterback getting through just his second full season without being sidelined by an injury. Meantime, because of Vick's success against the Redskins, Reid was able to give McCoy a break, allowing him to get rested and avoid an injury himself.
But, it was Philadelphia's defense that would actually get the team on the scoreboard first. With just under 9:00 remaining in the first quarter, Rex Grossman dropped back to pass from his own 35 yard line. But Eagles defensive lineman Mike Patterson got to the 'Skins QB, knocking the ball loose in the backfield. Cullen Jenkins scooped it up and ran it back 28 yards for the touchdown.
Philadelphia scored on another fumble return for a TD on the next possession, but that one was called back after officials had a chance to review the scoring play. The replay clearly showed Torain was down by contact before the ball came loose. But, it was still obvious that the defense was looking to attack and try to force turnovers early.
"Turnovers can be big momentum plays. We did a great job getting one, it's too bad the other one picked up by Hanson got called back," said Reid.
Even if the Birds "D" wasn't forcing turnovers, it certainly wasn't giving up a lot of field position either. The Redskins could only manage 94 yards of total offense in the first half and one scoring drive - a 51 yard field goal by Kris Brown.
|Jason Babin celebrates after sacking Grossman. The Eagles had 4 sacks, all from the defensive line.|
The Eagles offense didn't really wake up until the second quarter. Philly picked up a 20 yard field goal thanks to an 11 play, 76 yard drive midway through the quarter. However, the Eagles missed out on an opportunity to score more when a false start on second and goal from the one yard line pushed the offense back, and Philly couldn't punch the ball in.
"That's something we can't afford to do in the playoffs. You can't give up points when you're that close to the endzone like that. Good teams will kill you if you don't capitalize on those opportunities," commented Vick.
Scoring in the redzone has been a problem area for the Eagles in the past. But this season, it's been anything but trouble. Philadelphia scored on 92 percent of its opportunities in the redzone, tied for 8th best in the NFL. And it got another chance to succeed late in the half.
The Eagles went on a 9 play, 60 yard drive to take a 17-3 lead. Philly made a key conversion on a third and six play from its own 44 yard line. Then, Vick scrambled on four straight plays for a total of 53 yards. The drive culminated with a 1 yard touchdown pass to LeSean McCoy, and the Birds were well in control at the half.
|Eagles TE Clay Harbor spikes the ball after scoring a TD in the 3rd quarter. Harbor was one of 8 Eagles on the receiving end of Vick passes.|
Another touchdown on Philadelphia's first possession of the second half essentially put this one out of reach, and the Eagles could begin celebrating their perfect season.
"The thing about this, is while it is a great accomplishment, there's still a lot more ahead of us," said McCoy, who finished the season with an NFL record 2,115 yards rushing. He also tied LaDainian Tomlinson's all-time mark for rushing touchdowns in a single season with 28.
Despite this team's accomplishments, the celebration was relatively low key in the locker room. Head Coach Andy Reid made a speech to the team, praising their efforts all year. But, just like McCoy, Reid stressed the fact that this was just the beginning.
"Keep your eyes on the prize, gentleman," said Reid. "We've accomplished one goal. But remember, the ultimate one is the Super Bowl. We can do it. It's just a question of how bad you want it. Go out there and take it."
The Eagles will get a chance to rest, knowing that with the top spot in the conference, the road to the Super Bowl will pass through Philadelphia in the NFC.
|Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles|
|Jan 1, 2012||1ST||2ND||3RD||4TH||SCORE|
|Washington Redskins (8-7-1)||0||3||0||0||3|
|Philadelphia Eagles (16-0)||7||10||10||3||30|
|Punt Return Yards||18||53|
|Kick Return Yards||91||37|
|3rd Down Converstion||3-13 (23%)||5-12 (41%)|
|4th Down Conversion||0-1||0-0|
|Red Zone Touchdowns/Field Goals||0/0||3/1|