NFL Week 15 Recap: NFC East

As a long time fan of the National Football League you probably never considered the Washington Redskins would be sitting alone on top of the NFC East with just two games left to play, but they are. You can look at your local newspapers’ sports page to confirm for yourself. Moreover, a win against division rival the Philadelphia Eagles next Saturday would clinch the title, their first since 2012.

As a long time fan of the National Football League you probably never considered the Washington Redskins would be sitting alone on top of the NFC East

As a long time fan of the National Football League you probably never considered the Washington Redskins would be sitting alone on top of the NFC East

The Redskins are in that position because they beat the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles lost their games to the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals.

This season started with Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden’s surprise decision to tap Kick Cousins as the team’s starting quarterback rather than Robert Griffin III. During OTAs back in the spring, Gruden had said that the team belonged to RGIII. However, he didn’t perform well in the preseason and suffered a concussion in the third preseason game. It appeared that Gruden was using RG III’s concussion as an excuse to elevate Cousins to be the starting QB.

Well, during the last 14 games Cousins has matured in the role and has proven without any doubt that he deserves to be the starting quarterback. Cousins has been so good this season he has broken some franchise records including number of completions in a season, best quarterback rating in home games (117.0) surpassing Sonny Jurgensen, six 300-yard passing performances during a season, exceeding Jurgensen, Jay Schroeder and Mark Rypien. He also equaled Jurgensen’s club mark of throwing at least one touchdown pass per game in 14 straight games.

Cousins threw four touchdown passes and ran for another leading the Redskins over the Buffalo Bills. The Redskins actually scored touchdowns on each of their first three possessions of the game for the first time since September 1999.

The Redskins’ defense was well on the way to shutting out the Buffalo offense in the first half when receiver-punt returner Jamison Crowder fumbled a punt near midfield. The Bills drove down the field, but was stopped on fourth down when Bills’ quarterback Tyrod Taylor overthrew Sammy Watkins in the end zone.

In the second half the Bills started to put up some points. They made the score 28-17 with a two-play drive that finished with the first of Taylor’s two touchdown passes to Watkins. However, the Redskins responded with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that concluded with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon early in the fourth quarter.

Redskins’ tight end Jordan Reed caught two touchdown passes in the first half and DeSean Jackson spun away from defensive back Corey Graham after catching a pass from Cousins and ran in for a score. Jackson caught another pass setting up a score.

Cousins finished with 22 completions on 28 throws for 319 yards, four touchdowns, a rushing touchdown and no interceptions. He was sacked once. The Redskins’ running game performed better than in previous games and contributed to the win. Alfred Morris collected 84 yards on 14 carries and Matt Jones rushed for 28 yards on 10 carries. DeSean Jackson led the Redskins receivers with six catches for 153 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Reed caught seven passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Pierre Garcon caught three passes for 34 yards and a score.

Taylor finished with 16 completions on 27 attempts for 235 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked five times. Leading rusher for the Bills was Mike Gillislee with 81 yards on four carries and a touchdown. Taylor rushed for 79 yards on nine attempts. LeSean McCoy was held to 29 yards on 10 carries. REDSKINS 35 BILLS 25

The New York Giants scared the Carolina Panthers, but finally succumbed. The Panthers led the Giants 35-7 in the third quarter, but the Giants ultimately tied the score in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard pass from Eli Manning to Odell Beckham Jr. with 1:46 remaining. However, Graham Gano kicked a 43-yard field goal as time ran out.

Beckman and Panthers’ cornerback Josh Norman were battling each other throughout the game. Beckham struck Norman with his helmet and shoved and punched him. Beckman was penalized three times for roughing and Norman was flagged for hitting Beckham in the helmet. After his tying score, Beckman taunted Norman before he ran to midfield in celebration of the catch. Giants’ Head Coach Tom Coughlin said he considered taking Beckman out of the game for some plays, but he didn’t.

Cam Newton finished with 25 completions on 45 attempts for 340 yards and five touchdowns. He was sacked three times. Newton also contributed 100 yards rushing on eight carries. Ted Gin Jr. led the Panthers’ receivers with 85 yards on six catches and two touchdowns. Greg Olsen finished with six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. Corey Brown also scored and caught three passes for 51 yards. Devin Funchess caught two passes for 30 yards and a touchdown.

Manning completed 29 passes on 46 attempts for 245 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Leading rusher for the Giants was Rashad Jennings, who collected 107 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Beckman had six receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. Rueben Randle caught four passes for 47 yards and a score. Will Tye caught five passes for 43 yards and a touchdown and Shane Vereen caught eight passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. PANTHERS 38 GIANTS 35

The Arizona Cardinals clinched the NFC West with a win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Rookie running back David Johnson, who is replacing Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington due to injuries, rushed for 187 yards and three touchdowns.

Deone Bucannon intercepted a Sam Bradford pass and took it 39-yards for a score giving the Cardinals a 37-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. Tyrann Mathieu also intercepted a Bradford Pass late in the fourth quarter and limped off the field. The Eagles also fumbled on consecutive drives in the third quarter. Bradford fumbled after being sacked by Markus Golden and Ryan Mathews fumbled at midfield.

The Eagles were driving for a tying score, but on fourth and one at the Cardinals’ eight yards line, Sam Bradford gave the ball to Mathews, who was stopped for no gain. DeMarco Murray, who is 14 for 14 on third and fourth downs of two-yards or less, sat on the bench during the play. He didn’t get a carry until after the third quarter.

Carson Palmer finished with 20 completions on 32 throws for 274 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked twice. Johnson led the Cardinals’ running backs with 187 yards on 29 carries and three touchdowns. Michael Floyd led the Cardinals’ receivers with five catches for 70 yards. Darren Fells caught three passes for 54 yards. Larry Fitzgerald caught three passes for 43 yards. John Brown caught three passes for 38 yards and a score.

Sam Bradford completed 28 passes on 41 attempts for 361 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked twice. Mathews led the rushers with 58 yards on 11 carries. Murray carried the ball twice for only three years. Jordan Matthews caught eight passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. Zach Ertz caught eight passes for 78 yards and a score. CARDINALS 40 EAGLES 17

Randy Bullock kicked a 40-yard field goal with 36 seconds remaining as the New York Jets beat the Dallas Cowboys. A 43-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Kenbrell Thompkins set up the kick.

Kellen Moore replaced an ineffective Matt Cassel to become the fourth player to quarterback the Cowboys this season. Cowboys’ Head Coach Jason Garrett decided he had to replace Cassel when the QB stumbled trying to change directions after faking a throw and then threw blindly to Jets’ cornerback Darrelle Revis for an easy interception. He also suffered a 19-yard sack.

Moore gave the Cowboys somewhat of a spark. He completed 15 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown, but threw three interceptions. He was sacked once. He completed a touchdown pass to Dez Bryant, which gave the Cowboys a 10-9 lead. However, Jets’ defensive back Marcus Gilchrist intercepted a Moore pass intended for Bryant. Moore also threw an interception to Calvin Pryor in the end zone in the third quarter.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw his first interception since November 22, which set up a Cowboys’ field goal. In the third quarter he engineered a 70-yard drive that finished with a touchdown pass to Eric Decker.

Darren McFadden continued to play well for the Cowboys gaining 100 yards on 16 carries. JETS 19 COWBOYS 16
NFC EAST STANDINGS             Overall         Division       Conference
 WASHINGTON REDSKINS         7-7                 2-2                  6-4
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES            6-8                 2-2                  3-7
NEW YORK GIANTS                      6-8                 2-3                  4-6
DALLAS COWBOYS                     4-10                 3-2                  3-8
 REDSKINS @ EAGLES               SATURDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2015
COWBOYS @ BILLS                    SUNDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2015
GIANTS @ VIKINGS                   SUNDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2015
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