Revolution: Eagles Win in D.C. Can Jumpstart This Season

Revolution: Eagles Win in D.C. Can Jumpstart This Season

If you're looking for an example of how quickly things can change in the NFL, one need look no further than the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins.

Last November, the Birds demolished the Skins 59-28 in their second meeting of the season, a game that was not nearly as close as the final score. Michael Vick posted a historic performance that had many believing he was becoming the new quarterback prototype before our eyes, laying waste to an opponent that was playing at half speed and seemed to quit the moment they fell behind. The action on the field more closely resembled a top five college program rolling over some mid-major cupcake than the typically hard-fought NFC East rivalry.

Even right until this season started, Washington was a joke, electing to go with a turnover-prone signal caller whose best football was never very good, and narrowly beat out a 30 year old with four career starts for the job. The Eagles, as we know, were the prohibitive favorite coming out of the division, their summer of free spending still being celebrated as a major coup for the organization.

Now the Redskins are 3-1, and currently reside in first place, converting a few believers on their quest to shock the world. And Philadelphia, well... you get the idea.

For another example of how quickly things can change in the NFL, we jump back to present day, where a picture of the standings could shift dramatically before the afternoon is out -- that is if the Eagles actually finish a game. But with a win today, and at least a New York Giants loss, the Birds would dive right back into the postseason hunt, as no club in the East would have larger than a one game lead heading into the bye week. Plus, at 1-1 and four division sets remaining, they still control their own destiny

I don't suspect such a scenario would do much to energize a fan base that's lost almost all hope, many of whom would just as soon detach themselves from the whole operation, if they only knew how. And really, we're talking about getting to 2-4. There is a long way to go before most people are willing to seriously entertain the notion that this team has a run in them.

Every turnaround has to begin somewhere though. Win or lose, this may not feel like the biggest moment of the 2011 season today, but it is. A loss would be be surprisingly devastating, the Eagles not suddenly mathematically out of it as a result, but their path to the playoffs no longer clearly visible. On the other hand, a W breathes new life into the franchise and their faithful, and if something special should happen down the road, we'll look back on this victory when we talk about where it started.

It won't be easy. The defense is without Trent Cole again, and King Dunlap's injury has created another shuffling along the offense line -- with Jason Peters also out, Todd Herremans slides over to left tackle, while Winston Justice makes his first start since last year on the right side.

And the Redskins are a quality opponent to say the least. They have a well-coached offense that plays to its strengths, and a top 10 defense stacked with talent at every position. By no means will winning come easy today.

Regardless, we're about to find out what kind of character the Eagles truly have. The talent is not really what's in question here. Their will to win, will to scrap, will to fight for 60 minutes are in doubt. But if they can just get that one win, maybe we'll learn something about this team, and just maybe this season isn't over.

Let's hit the reset button.

No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

usa-washington-christian-mccaffrey.jpg
USA Today Images

No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

SEATTLE -- Jake Browning threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns, Myles Gaskin added 100 yards and two scores, and No. 10 Washington was dominant on both sides, overwhelming No. 7 Stanford 44-6 on Friday night.

After months of hype that Washington (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) was on the verge of a breakout, the Huskies showed they were ready for their return to the national stage.

And they did it emphatically, handing Stanford (3-1, 2-1) its worst loss since a 41-3 setback against Arizona State in 2007.

The Huskies raced to a 23-0 halftime lead, scored early in the second half to go up 30-0 and coasted to their biggest victory over an AP Top 10 team since beating No. 5 Southern California 31-0 in 1990. That game 26 years ago announced Washington as a national contender and the Huskies went on to share the national title a year later with Miami -- taking the coaches' version while Miami topped the AP media poll.

Browning was the leader of an efficient offense that scored on six of its eight drives. He threw touchdowns of 3 yards to Dante Pettis, 19 yards to John Ross and capped the night with a 3-yarder to Aaron Fuller with 5:30 remaining. Browning was 15 of 21 and did not commit a turnover.

Equally important was Washington's ability to establish a running game. The Huskies rushed for 214 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, Stanford star Christian McCaffrey saw his Heisman Trophy aspirations hit a major speed bump. McCaffrey was held to 49 yards rushing on 12 carries, five catches for 30 yards and continued his streak of never scoring an offensive touchdown in a road game.

It was McCaffrey's fewest yards rushing since 2014 at California when he had 19 yards on three carries.

Stanford's only TD came late in the third quarter on a 19-yard pass from Ryan Burns to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

Burns was 15 of 22 for 151 yards, but Washington controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. Stanford quarterbacks were sacked eight times, six in the first half. Stanford had allowed only four total sacks in the first three games combined.

Stanford was playing short-handed without starting cornerbacks Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder, starting wide receiver Francis Owusu and starting fullback Daniel Marx. Starting right tackle Casey Tucker limped off with an apparent leg injury late in the fourth quarter.

Takeaways
Stanford: The Cardinal were unexpectedly sloppy. Stanford committed 11 penalties after entering the week as the least penalized team in the Pac-12. There were communication issues in part due to the roaring Washington crowd, but also a lack of sharpness not normally seen from David Shaw's team.

Washington: The defense was up to the task of keeping McCaffrey under control and forcing Burns to beat them through the air. McCaffrey had 34 yards on 10 carries in the first half and forced the Cardinal into numerous long third-down situations. That allowed Washington to bring extra pass rushers to get to Burns.

Up Next
Stanford: The Cardinal head home after two straight weeks on the road to host Washington State.

Washington: The Huskies travel to Oregon looking to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Ducks.

Best of MLB: Darvish stars as Rangers beat Rays 3-1 and clinch home field

usa-darvish.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of MLB: Darvish stars as Rangers beat Rays 3-1 and clinch home field

ARLINGLTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish looked playoff-ready with a season-high 12 strikeouts in six innings as the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 on Friday night and clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

The Rangers can be tied by only the Cleveland Indians and they own the tie-breaker by winning the teams' season series. The AL owns home-field advantage in the World Series thanks to its win in the All-Star Game.

Darvish (7-5) allowed one run, three hits and one walk. His 28th career game of double-digit strikeouts is the second-most in a pitcher's first 100 major league starts, topped only by Dwight Gooden (31). Darvish will likely start Game 2 of the Division Series following Cole Hamels.

Shin-Soo Choo returned to Texas' lineup after missing 39 games with a fractured left forearm. Choo pulled a single to right in his first plate appearance since Aug. 15 and went 1 for 4.

Matt Andriese (8-8) gave up three runs and seven hits, including solo home runs to Carlos Beltran and Rougned Odor (see full story). 

Cabrera hits 2 HRs, Tigers move up in playoff race, beat Braves
ATLANTA -- Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs, Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton also connected and the Detroit Tigers moved up in the playoff race, beating the Atlanta Braves 6-2 Friday night.

The Tigers won their third straight and pulled within a half-game of Toronto for the second AL wild-card spot. The Blue Jays lost at Boston 5-3.

The regular season is scheduled to end Sunday, but the Tigers might need to play beyond that. They were rained out against Cleveland this week and would have to make up that game if it impacts their playoff chances.

Daniel Norris (4-2) gave up one run, five hits, two walks and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings.

The Braves, playing their final series at Turner Field before moving north to the suburbs next year, had won 10 of 11. Matt Wisler (7-13) was chased in the fifth when James McCann's RBI single made it 5-0 (see full story).

Trumbo hits 47th, Schoop 5 RBIs as Orioles top Yankees 8-1
NEW YORK -- Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 47th home run, Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones also went deep in a six-run fifth inning and the Baltimore Orioles beat the New York Yankees 8-1 in steady rain Friday night to maintain their AL wild-card lead.

Baltimore began the night tied with Toronto for the AL's two wild cards at 87-72, with Detroit 1 1/2 games back and Seattle trailing the Tigers by a half-game.

Trumbo and Jones homered off Michael Pineda (6-12), who started with 3 2/3 hitless innings and suddenly became ineffective.

Schoop tied his career high with five RBIs, hitting a go-ahead, two-run double in the fourth and adding a three-run homer in the fifth against James Pazos -- Baltimore's big league-high 250th home run this season.

Yovani Gallardo (6-8) won for just the second time in nine starts since Aug. 5, allowing two hits, three walks and Mark Teixeira's sacrifice fly in six innings (see full story). 

Ortiz delivers another HR, Red Sox beat Blue Jays 5-3
BOSTON -- Opening his final weekend with yet another game-winning homer, David Ortiz lined a two-run shot into the right-field stands to break a seventh-inning tie and help the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Friday night.

The AL East champion Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and stayed one game ahead of Cleveland in the race for home-field advantage for the playoffs.

The Blue Jays fell one game behind Baltimore in the wild-card race and are now within range of Detroit and Seattle in the fight for the AL's final postseason berth (see full story).