Eagles race past Redskins in opener

Quieting the crowd: DeSean Jackson plays to the Washington fans after scoring a touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Michael Vick in the first quarter. The Eagles' star receiver finished with seven catches for 104 yards.
Quieting the crowd: DeSean Jackson plays to the Washington fans after scoring a touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Michael Vick in the first quarter. The Eagles' star receiver finished with seven catches for 104 yards. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 11, 2013

LANDOVER, Md. - One game does not eradicate skepticism, but there will be far less doubt about how Chip Kelly will translate to the NFL after the Eagles' convincing 33-27 victory over the Washington Redskins in the season opener Monday night at FedEx Field.

The victory was more than a simple adjustment to the record, which is now 1-0. It was an endorsement of Kelly's philosophy of frenetic football, in which the play clock is an optional accessory and an optimum performance appears closer to what occurs in a video game than a real NFL contest.

Owner Jeffrey Lurie presented Kelly with the game ball in the locker room after the win.

"It was a crazy game," quarterback Michael Vick said. "I've never been a part of anything like that. When the first quarter was over, I thought we were going to go in for halftime. It was unreal. I had to tell myself, 'It's going to be a long season.' "

Monday's was not an optimal performance, but it was nonetheless an impressive debut in front of a national audience and a frenzied crowd of 82,743 that had little reason to cheer until a fourth-quarter comeback.

The Eagles offense accumulated 445 yards against the Redskins. The Birds totaled 77 plays. They recorded 26 first downs. And, as advertised, they dictated the tempo.

Vick completed 15 of 25 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. LeSean McCoy rushed 31 times for 184 yards and a score. DeSean Jackson pulled in seven passes for 104 yards and a TD.

"I don't think it can get too much faster than that," said Vick, who answered "maybe so" when asked if this was the start of an NFL revolution.

"We don't count plays; we never have," Kelly said. "The thing you have to count is points."

The offensive onslaught came after an inauspicious opening drive. With a no-huddle offense in which the Eagles were sometimes snapping the ball 15 seconds into the play clock, the Eagles drove the ball 76 yards to the Redskins' 4-yard line. That's when Vick attempted a screen pass to McCoy that was deflected by Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.

The Eagles players acted as if the play was dead, but the whistle was never blown. Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall picked up the loose ball and ran unbothered 75 yards for a 7-0 lead.

The deficit was an obstacle, but not a deterrent. The Eagles added a 48-yard Alex Henery field goal before forcing a fumble that led to Jackson's 25-yard touchdown catch for a 10-7 lead.

An Eagles defense that was maligned throughout the preseason showed the ability to make big plays when it forced another Redskins turnover on the next drive, this time a Brandon Boykin interception. And the next time the Redskins had the ball, a mishandled pitch in their own end zone resulted in a safety.

Kelly said the defense's performance was the key to the game.

The second quarter included two fast-paced scoring drives. A five-play, 65-yard drive that finished with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek took 2 minutes, 7 seconds. A nine-play, 44-yard drive that finished with a 3-yard Vick touchdown run lasted 3:03. The Eagles entered halftime with 247 more yards than the Redskins, 32 more plays - and most important, a 26-7 lead.

"We felt like this is what we needed to do early just because they're such a potent offense," Kelly said about the pace. "We felt like we've been prepared; this is kind of how we practice."

The lead swelled to 33-7 after Cary Williams made a diving interception on the Redskins' opening drive after halftime and McCoy juked through Washington's defense for a 34-yard touchdown run two plays later.

That was the Eagles' high-water mark. The Redskins scored the next three touchdowns to make the game entertaining in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles' lead was never in doubt. One of the issues, players said afterward, was that the Eagles slowed the game down at that point.

"You start to manage a game, and it's a different game at this level because the clock's always running," Kelly said.

The performance was not flawless, and the Eagles must reduce turnovers and finish the game better. But Kelly's debut should quiet the skeptics.

With the San Diego Chargers visiting Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, curiosity will no longer focus on whether Kelly's offense will work in the NFL. It will instead focus on what the Eagles can do for an encore after an impressive first win.

"I had a lot of fun and I think our guys had a lot of fun," Kelly said. "But you're always going to say that when we win."


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow

on Twitter @ZBerm.

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