LANDOVER, Md. (AP)—Brian Dawkins fought his own teammate for the ball and bobbled it a little as he fell to the ground, his feet and knee landing just inside the end zone.
After weeks of watching their offense win games with points to spare, the Philadelphia Eagles needed a big defensive play for a change. Dawkins’ interception with 1:46 to play Sunday night secured a 17-14 victory over the Washington Redskins, the Eagles’ fifth victory in a row.
With the Redskins at the Eagles 27, Patrick Ramsey tried to hit H-back Chris Cooley in the back corner of the end zone for a possible game-winning score, but Dawkins and Lito Sheppard had the play covered.
“I saw the ball go up,” Dawkins said. “And I was just thinking to myself, ‘Make sure you catch the ball.’ Lito was telling me he was fighting me for the ball. I thought it was the receiver. The whole game we were saying we were going to make a turnover sooner or later to really clinch this game.”
The Eagles (12-1), who clinched the NFC East two weeks ago, secured a first-round bye earlier Sunday when Atlanta beat Oakland. They had won their last four games by at least 21 points and had beaten every NFC team they’d played this year by at least 10—until Sunday.
“This time of year, it’s important that you win games like this,” said Donovan McNabb, who followed his five-TD performance last week against Green Bay by completing 21 of 38 passes for 260 yards with a touchdown and an interception “The good teams win games like this. It was just one of those games where it doesn’t come out as crisp as you want on both sides of the ball, but, hey, we’re coming out of here 12-1.”
The victory also moved Andy Reid ahead of Joe Gibbs into first place in winning percentage among active coaches. Reid’s record is 68-34 (.667), ahead of Hall of Fame coach Gibbs’ 144-74 (.661).
Reid won’t have to celebrate in black spandex tights because Terrell Owens didn’t catch a touchdown pass. Owens has 14 TDs on the season, and the coach has promised to wear tights if Owens gets 15. Owens was held to six catches for 46 yards and lost a fumble at the Redskins 8-yard line in the first half.
The Redskins fell to 4-9, assuring Gibbs of a losing season. He had only one losing record in his first 12-year stint in Washington, a 7-9 mark in 1988. At least his team kept Sunday’s game closer than the 27-6 loss at Philadelphia three weeks ago.
“They got out of here with this one—they snuck out of here with this one,” Washington cornerback Fred Smoot said. “McNabb told me that at the end of the game: They crept out of here with this one.”
Ramsey went 29-for-42 for 251 yards for the Redskins, and Laveranues Coles caught 12 passes for 100 yards despite a chronic toe injury that kept him out of practice for most of the week. Washington was hurt by 12 penalties for 137 yards. Mike Sellers was whistled for three personals, all on special teams.
A 10-point third quarter, capped by Dorsey Levens’ 1-yard touchdown run, gave the Eagles a 17-7 lead and just enough cushion to withstand the Redskins’ fourth-quarter comeback.
Washington converted an interception from McNabb into a 2-yard TD run from Clinton Portis with 12:04 remaining to close within three, but Dawkins’ interception halted the Redskins’ best chance to pull off the upset.
“They did a good job of covering it,” Ramsey said. “I was hoping Cooley would go up and get the ball, and it just didn’t work out.”
The game was marred by several injuries. Eagles linebacker Jason Short broke a leg and is done for the season. Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs was taken off on a backboard with a concussion, the result of a clean blindside block by fullback Josh Parry. Springs was hospitalized as a precaution, but Gibbs indicated the cornerback would be OK.
The Eagles, already without defensive linemen Derrick Burgess and Jerome McDougle, had three more injured in the first half. Jevon Kearse hurt his neck and limped off twice with an ankle injury, but at least he kept coming back. Hollis Thomas dislocated his left elbow and will be re-examined Monday. Corey Simon had back spasms and didn’t return.
Even a Redskins cheerleader was hurt, knocked to the ground when Owens was shoved into her by Redskins safety Sean Taylor. She walked off under her own power.
Portis and Taylor wore all-red socks for the second consecutive game. They were fined $5,000 each for wearing them in last week’s 31-7 victory over the New York Giants. … Redskins RT Ray Brown turned 42 Sunday. He’s the oldest NFL lineman since the 1920s. … David Akers was short with a 48-yard field goal in the first half, ending a streak of 15 in a row.