The Philadelphia Eagles did not win the NFC East this year. In fact, for the second straight season, an unlikely NFC East champion wouldn’t have won it all without beating the Eagles first. This time, the Washington Redskins wrapped up the division with a 28-18 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 30, but they still have the Eagles to thank even more.
The first time that the Redskins played the Eagles back on Nov. 18, both teams were 3-6 and ready to throw in the towel. But when Washington blew out Philadelphia by 31-6, it sent the Redskins on their way to a season-ending seven-game winning streak. And once again, it left the Eagles to wonder what could have been.
Last year, the difference between the New York Giants and the Eagles came when the Giants rallied to beat the Eagles in Week 3. Because of that win, New York finished one game ahead of Philadelphia for the NFC East title, and then went on to claim the Super Bowl title for good measure.
Yet the Redskins finished six games ahead of the Eagles in 2012, so Philadelphia doesn’t have as many “what-ifs” to ask this offseason. Still, the Eagles will have to wonder if they could have started their own seven-game winning streak by winning in Washington. Instead, another NFC East champion is celebrating at Philadelphia’s expense.
Not only did the Redskins use that win on Nov. 18 to fuel their run, they also beat the Eagles again on Dec. 23 in Andy Reid’s final home game. It showed Washington it could win without Robert Griffin III at full strength, and it did so again when Alfred Morris led it over Dallas on Dec. 30.
The Redskins look as charmed as the Giants did back in 2011. However, New York didn’t need a seven-game winning streak to make the playoffs last year, as it had some magic left over for the postseason. Did Washington use up all its magic just to win the division, or is there enough to keep the Lombardi Trophy in the NFC East -- so close and yet so far away from Philadelphia?
The Eagles played an indirect role in helping one rival win it all in 2011. They have already helped another rival complete an impossible journey in 2012 -- and the Redskins may not be done rubbing it in yet.