Smallwood’s return TD a bright spot that
Wendell Smallwood gave the Eagles some life Sunday with a long kickoff return for a touchdown. But it was overshadowed by the loss to the Redskins.
LANDOVER, MD. >> Wendell Smallwood gave the Eagles a lift with a kickoff return for a touchdown. The rookie fifthround pick rolled 86 yards for a score Sunday to pull the Eagles within a touchdown in the second quarter of their game with the Redskins.
Smallwood also committed one of 13 Eagles penalties, which barely was an improvement on the 14 they committed in a loss last week to the Lions.
It was one of those Sundays for the Eagles (3-2), who wound up on the wrong side of a 27-20 decision. It was their second straight loss, and their fourth in a row to the hated Redskins (4-2). The Skins have won four straight games overall.
“It was just great blocking by us,” Smallwood said of his second touchdown with the Eagles. “All I had to do was run. I didn’t have to make anybody miss or anything. I just ran through the hole. Josh Huff led up inside and it just opened up big-time.”
Smallwood’s block in the back of blitzing linebacker Terence Garvin, however, negated Carson Wentz’s 38-yard completion to Dorial Green-Beckham in the fourth quarter and ultimately Smallwood was at a loss to describe what went wrong there.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Smallwood said. “I want to look at it because I picked the blitz up. Carson started scrambling. I thought I was inside of the blocker and Carson came inside of me. I don’t feel like I pushed him in the back.”
Smallwood’s kickoff return pulled the Eagles within 14-7 with 7:37 left in the first half. It was his second TD. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Vernon Davis pushed the kickoff back to the 20-yard line.
“We kind of knew coming into this game we’d probably get just one shot with all the touchbacks you get,” Smallwood, who resides in Wilmington, Del. said. “And that penalty helped us out. I think they were kind of relaxed by so many touchbacks.”
The touchdown was bittersweet.
“It kind of doesn’t mean anything to me because we lost,” Smallwood said. “I’d rather have not had it and won.”
*** Among other penalties for the Eagles was Marcus Smith’s chop block on a punt return in the first quarter. It gave the Redskins a first down at their own 29-yard line instead of the 14.
Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was flagged for roughing the passer on a third-and-four incompletion late in the second quarter.
It extended a TD drive, giving the ’Skins a 21-14 lead at the half. Cox jumped offside on the first play of the second half.
“I think everybody’s frustrated,” Cox said. “But we know the type of team we have and we know what we’re capable of. We have to correct the mistakes and get ready to play Minnesota next week. We have to fix the penalties. Two of those penalties in the last two weeks cost us seven points because of me. I have to be a whole lot smarter than what I am.”
Among other costly penalties was one by Ron Brooks, who had a facemask penalty on a field goal drive, enabling the ’Skins to go ahead, 24-10, in the third quarter. And Eagles safety Rodney McLeod jumped offside to give Washington a first down in the fourth quarter.
*** Leodis McKelvin didn’t make it through the pregame warm-ups, the Eagles scratching the veteran cornerback.
Considering the deep receiving corps of the Redskins, the loss of McKelvin was every bit as challenging for the Eagles as life without offensive right tackle Lane Johnson, suspended for 10 games.
The Redskins were without tight end Jordan Reed (concussion), their leading receiver. But former Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson burned the Birds with four receptions for 55 yards, including a 35-yarder to set up a touchdown. And Pierre Garcon had six catches for 77 yards.
Ron Brooks, who normally plays in nickel situations, contributed three tackles start in place of McKelvin.
*** NOTES >> Rookie cornerback Jalen Mills had a rocky start for the Eagles, but settled in to register seven tackles and one pass breakup . ... McLeod led the Eagles with 13 stops, Nigel Bradham added 10. The Eagles didn’t sack Kirk Cousins.
Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood (28) returns a kickoff for a touchdown past pursuing Redskins Keith Marshall (39) and Houston Bates (96) to get the Birds on the board in the first half Sunday in Landover, Md.