Eagles bring Redskins' year, maybe Spurrier, to halt, 31-7

McNabb makes short work of hosts to clinch East

coach denies he'll resign

NFL Week 17

December 28, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER - If it's true that this is coach Steve Spurrier's final season with the Washington Redskins, his lasting memory of the NFL will be a familiar one: a loss.

A chaotic and disappointing season came to a merciful end for the Redskins, who - in dropping a 31-7 game to the visiting Philadelphia Eagles last night in the regular-season finale for both teams - lost their 10th game in their past 12 contests.

Washington fell to 5-11. Philadelphia improved to 12-4, captured its third straight NFC East title, and remained in the running for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. (The Eagles need the Detroit Lions to upset the St. Louis Rams today.)

Adding to the misery of the 76,766 fans who descended on FedEx Field was an ESPN.com report claiming that Spurrier was contemplating not returning next season.

Part of the motivation, according to the report, was Spurrier's preference to avoid a protracted battle with team owner Daniel Snyder and vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato over the makeup of Spurrier's coaching staff.

Spurrier, however, refuted the speculation after the game and reiterated that he plans to stick to his original plan of coaching the third year of a five-year, $25 million contract.

"Go back to my original statement," said a visibly frustrated Spurrier, who stalked out of his post-game news conference after he was asked about his future for the third time. "I don't even want to talk about that."

He did say, "There are going to be changes. We've got to change something - we know that."

Cornerback Fred Smoot said the players are concerned about Spurrier's status.

"Yeah, you do [concern yourself] because that's your coach, and you truly want him back," Smoot said. "But you have to let that play itself out."

If Spurrier does not return, Washington will be forced to search for its fifth head coach in five seasons. Spurrier's legacy as an offensive genius would include a 12-20 league record (a 2-10 mark against NFC East opponents) and an 18.6 points-per-game average - ranked in the bottom third of the NFL.

One of those divisional foes, the Eagles, has feasted on the Redskins, winning six of the past seven meetings and five straight.

Last night's game remained true to form as quarterback Donovan McNabb threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, and Philadelphia scored on four of its first five possessions of the game.

McNabb threw touchdown strikes of 11, 8 and 3 yards to running back Correll Buckhalter, wide receiver Freddie Mitchell and tight end Chad Lewis, respectively.

His 1-yard scamper on a play-action fake proved to be the game-winner as it gave the Eagles a 14-0 lead with 12:21 left in the second quarter.

McNabb completed 23 of 32 passes for 242 yards, steered clear of a sack, and boasted a quarterback rating of 124.7.

His counterpart, Tim Hasselbeck, had a rougher outing. Hasselbeck connected on 21 of 32 passes for 192 yards, but had a 68.8 rating because he threw no touchdowns, accounted for the team's two turnovers (a fumble and an interception) and was sacked four times.

Washington's only score came with 2:53 left in the second quarter when running back Rock Cartwright plowed into the end zone from the 1-yard line.

Cartwright provided the series' biggest play when he caught a screen pass on second-and-26 and rumbled 40 yards to Philadelphia's 1-yard line.

McNabb completed passes to 10 receivers, including himself. One of his passes was batted back to him.

The Eagles dominated nearly every statistical category, owning the advantage in offense (332 total yards to the Redskins' 260), time of possession (31:22 to 28:38) and first downs (24 to 16).

Washington did achieve one dubious distinction. The Redskins set a franchise record for penalties in a season with 124. The previous high of 122 was established in 1948.

NOTES: The Redskins deactivated starting tight end Zeron Flemister and a pair of backups -Darrell Russell and Antonio Pierce - last night for violating unspecified team rules. ... Eagles leading rusher Brian Westbrook tore a left triceps muscle in the first quarter and did not return. His status for the playoffs was unclear. ... Retiring defensive end Bruce Smith was honored by the Redskins in a halftime ceremony.

Philadelphia 7 14 7 3 - 31

Washington 0 7 0 0 - 7

First quarter Phi-C.Lewis 3 pass from McNabb (Akers kick), 7:07. Second quarter Phi-McNabb 1 run (Akers kick), 12:21. Phi-Mitchell 8 pass from McNabb (Akers kick), 9:29. Was-Cartwright 1 run (Hall kick), 2:53. Third quarter Phi-Buckhalter 11 pass from McNabb (Akers Kick), 8:16. Fourth quarter Phi-FG Akers 26, 2:00. A-76,766.

Phi Was

First downs 24 16

Total Net Yards 332 260

Rushes-yards 25-83 18-79

Passing 249 181

Punt Returns 0-0 1-1

Kickoff Returns 2-40 4-86

Interceptions Ret. 1-3 0-0

Comp-Att-Int 24-34-0 22-34-1

Sacked-Yards Lost 0-0 5-18

Punts 3-38.0 1-69.0

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1

Penalties-Yards 7-48 9-78

Time of Possession 31:22 28:38

Rushing-Philadelphia, Buckhalter 13-54, McNabb 3-16, Staley 5-7, Westbrook 4-6. Washington, Cartwright 12-43, Morton 2-19, Hasselbeck 3-17, J.Simon 1-0. Passing-Philadelphia, McNabb 23-32-0-242, Detmer 1-2-0-7. Washington, Hasselbeck 21-32-1-192, Hamdan 1-2-0-7. Receiving-Philadelphia, Staley 5-56, Mitchell 4-47, Pinkston 3-74, Buckhalter 3-16, Westbrook 2-15, L.Smith 2-12, Thrash 2-8, G.Lewis 1-25, C.Lewis 1-3, McNabb 1-(minus 7). Washington, Coles 6-87, Cartwright 5-53, Ware 2-11, Russell 2-10, Morton 2-9, Gardner 2-4, McCants 1-14, Chamberlain 1-6, J.Simon 1-5. Missed field goal-Washington, Hall 52 (WL).

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