PHILADELPHIA -- A once-comfortable lead dwindled to almost nothing and, with it, a chance to take over first place in the NFC East. The message in the Philadelphia Eagles' defensive huddle was short and to the point.
"We kept saying 'Somebody has to make a play,' " linebacker Connor Barwin said. "And somebody did."
In this case, "somebody" was cornerback Brandon Boykin, who intercepted a pass thrown by Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III in the end zone with 24 seconds left in the game, a play that preserved the Eagles' 24-16 victory at Lincoln Financial Field.
The win moved the Eagles (6-5) into first place in the NFC East, a half-game ahead of the idle Dallas Cowboys.
The Redskins rallied from a 24-0 deficit to come within one touchdown and a two-point conversion -- they converted two of them earlier -- when Griffin dropped back to pass from the Eagles' 18. But defensive end Fletcher Cox pressured him into throwing a bad pass and Boykin was waiting for it.
"I just saw the ball floating in the air, and I was like, 'Is this real life?' " Boykin said. "It was almost like a dream."
But it was a nightmare for the Redskins (3-7), who were also 3-6 going into Week 11 last season, then ran the table to win the divisional title. But the lead on Sunday was too much to overcome and now they are 2 1/2 games behind the Eagles. That, too, could be too much to overcome.
"Unfortunately, it took us until the fourth quarter to get going," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "And we had an opportunity at the end; we just didn't take advantage of it.
"I was pleased the way our guys fought in the fourth quarter. But to win on the road you've got to play the full 60 minutes and we did not do that."
Griffin completed 17 of 35 passes for 264 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 81.1. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles completed 17 of 26 passes for 298 yards and a passer rating of 104.3. Even though he did not throw a touchdown pass, he did not throw any interceptions, either.
"The biggest thing for us on offense is we're not turning the ball over," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said.
The Eagles scored first on a 4-yard run by Foles with 2:48 left in the first quarter and made it 14-0 on their next possession on a 1-yard run by running back LeSean McCoy, after tight end Brent Celek picked up 41 yards on a screen pass.
Those two quick strikes gave the Eagles 19 touchdown drives on the season that have lasted less than two minutes.
It appeared the Redskins were going to cut into that lead on their next possession, after a 24-yard run by Roy Helu Jr. helped them push the ball to the Eagles 5-yard line. But on second-and-goal Griffin III was blindsided by and fumbled the ball, and Cox recovered for the Eagles.
The Eagles made them pay for that by driving for a 24-yard field goal by Alex Henery, which made it 17-0 at halftime. Then, the Eagles came out in the second half and appeared to put the game away with an 80-yard, 13-play touchdown drive that made it 24-0. McCoy scored on another 1-yard run that took 5:19 off the clock, the Eagles' longest touchdown drive of the year. Their previous long scoring drive was 3:58 in a 49-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 9.
But the Redskins answered with two fourth-quarter touchdowns and two 2-point conversions. The first TD came on a 36-yard catch and run by fullback Darrel Young and the second on a 41-yard pass to wide receiver Aldrick Robinson with 5:57 left to play.
"We made plays, but we didn't make enough of them and we didn't make them early enough," Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss said. "Nobody on the team will give up, I can guarantee you that, but this one if is a tough one to swallow."
Notes: Eagles RB LeSean McCoy finished with 77 yards and became the first player in the NFL to go over 1,000 rushing yards this season. ... Eagles QB Michael Vick was deactivated for the fifth time in the last six weeks because of a sore hamstring. ... Redskins DE Stephen Bowen and WR Leonard Hankerson left the game in the first half with knee injuries and TE Jordan Reed left with a concussion. They did not return. ... The Eagles were without two injured starters: LB Mychal Kendrick (knee) and CB Bradley Fletcher (pectoral). They were replaced by Najee Goode and Roc Carmichael, respectively. ... Eagles DE Trent Cole had two sacks, the 17th time in his career he has had multiple sacks in a game.