It was the play that led to Carlos Rogers'(notes) demotion, and now, he has to re-live it. In their 27-17 Week 7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Washington Redskins gave up two big plays to explosive receiver DeSean Jackson(notes) -- a 67-yard run and a 57-yard pass -- but it's the pass that Rogers will remember. With two minutes left in the first half, Rogers was playing right cornerback in three-deep coverage with the Eagles stuck on third-and-22 from their own 43. Rogers had been playing Jackson to close off shorter routes, and Jackson made him pay for it.
On the play, Jackson ran a quick dig route inside at about the Washington 40, but he widened the route to a straight go. Rogers stopped and closed inside, apparently looking for Donovan McNabb(notes) to throw the other way, but Jackson kept running downfield, bringing in the McNabb pass at the 15-yard line for the touchdown. It's hard enough for cornerbacks to trail Jackson when they maintain full speed, but one misstep will end any hope. That's what makes Jackson so dangerous, and it's why he leads the NFL in plays of 40 yards or more with seven.
For Rogers, it was the beginning of the end. Benched in favor of Fred Smoot(notes) in Week 10 after giving up a long score to Denver's Brandon Marshall(notes), Rogers has handled his demotion like a champ, by all accounts. Now, with DeAngelo Hall(notes) (knee) out against the Eagles, Rogers gets another shot, and he'll see Jackson as much as the Eagles can make it happen. "This ain't nothing new," Rogers told the Washington Post, after running with the first team in practice this week. "I'm not going into the game with an attitude to show you. I know I can play. Obviously, they know it, too. . . . I just got to take advantage of my opportunity. You never know what's going to happen once you get back. All I got to do is just put something good on the film right now."
Putting something good on film against DeSean Jackson is one of the NFL's biggest challenges these days -- between his in-line speed and McNabb's ability to freeze defenses with play action (as I detailed this week in the Post), the Eagles have an in-the-box recipe for success on their deep routes. Odds are, the Redskins will play Jackson deeper this time and allow the small stuff underneath.