PHILADELPHIA — Carson Wentz and Golden Tate connected for seven completions, 85 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion as the Philadelphia Eagles jumped into the thick of the playoff race with a 28-13 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.
The Eagles improved to 6-6. Not a record to write home about, but one that has them in contention both in a down NFC East and in the wild-card hunt. The Eagles travel to the division-leading Dallas Cowboys (7-5) Sunday. A victory there would pull them into a first-place tie.
Philly is right on the heels of the Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1) for the wild card as well, thanks to losses by both teams this week.
So for all the turbulence that has knocked the Eagles this way and that, there is hope and meaningful football ahead.
For the first time in a long time, the game got off on the right foot. Wentz went 5-for-5 on the opening drive and capped it with a touchdown toss to Tate, who celebrated by doing “The Worm” in the end zone. It has been a struggle getting Tate integrated into the offense since he was acquired from the Detroit Lions at the trade deadline. Both Wentz and Tate said this week that progress was being made behind the scenes; turns out they were on to something.
The Eagles had failed to score in the first quarter in nine of their first 11 games, and were in a drought that dated to the second week of October. That mercifully came to an end and Philly improved to 8-0 when Wentz throws a TD pass on their first possession of the game.
The offense had a little extra juice with Darren Sproles back in the lineup. Sidelined with a hamstring injury since the opener, Sproles made an immediate impact by breaking off a 14-yard touchdown.
Zach Ertz, meanwhile, continued his steady domination. He broke Brian Westbrook’s team record for most receptions in a season (90) and finished with nine catches for 83 yards. Next up is the record for most receptions by a tight end, currently held by his idol, Jason Witten.
The defense yielded a 90-yard touchdown to Adrian Peterson but was otherwise sturdy against a Washington attack that went from second-stringer Colt McCoy to third-stringer Mark Sanchez, as McCoy was lost to a broken leg at the end of the first quarter.
With the win, the Eagles now have a 17.8 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to ESPN FPI. A loss would have dropped it to 3.6 percent.
A difficult closing schedule awaits, starting with back-to-back games at Dallas and the Los Angeles Rams (11-1). It also includes a home game against the Houston Texans (9-3). There is still a good bit standing between them and a postseason bid, but their outlook is brighter now than it was heading into the week, especially now that Tate is beginning to make some noise.