LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Robert Griffin III barely let the ball hit the ground Sunday.
Fifteen attempts, 14 completions. Touchdown passes of 6, 49, 61 and 17 yards — one in each quarter. Uncountable chants of “RG3.”
The Washington Redskins finally found the formula for beating a rookie quarterback: force turnovers and have your own rookie play better. The defense got three takeaways and four sacks, and Griffin threw for 200 yards and ran for 84 in a 31-6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Nick Foles’ first drive as an NFL starting quarterback ended with a pass tipped to DeAngelo Hall for an interception. On Foles’ second drive, he threw into double coverage — right to safety Brandon Meriweather.
The win snapped the Redskins’ three-game skid as well as a remarkable eight-game losing streak against rookie quarterbacks that began in 2006. Coach Mike Shanahan said his players had to treat every game like the playoffs after losing a self-proclaimed “must-win” against the Carolina Panthers two weeks ago before their bye. So the victory allows Washington, despite a 4-6 record, to consider itself a contender in the weakened NFC East for at least a few more days.
No one will harbor any such hopes for the Eagles (3-7), who have dropped six straight and have their longest in-season losing streak since 1994 — accelerating the countdown toward the possible end of Andy Reid’s 14-year tenure as coach.
Foles got the start because Michael Vick is recovering from a concussion suffered in last week’s loss to Dallas. But the Eagles with Foles resembled the Eagles with Vick — capable of moving the ball downfield, only to have all the hard work negated by turnovers, penalties and a patchwork offensive line.
Philadelphia entered the game with an NFC-worst minus-11 turnover differential; it’s now minus-14. The Eagles committed nine penalties for 70 yards, including a pair of first-quarter false starts by right guard Jake Scott, who has been with the team less than a week. The only points came on field goals by Alex Henry.
Foles, the third-round pick from Arizona who made his NFL debut in relief last week after Vick was injured, completed 21 for 46 for 204 yards.
LeSean McCoy had 15 carries for 45 yards before being carted off in the final two minutes. The Eagles did not immediately announce the nature of his injury.
Griffin is also a rookie, too, of course. But he’s started every game and already has a veteran-like feel. A 6-yard touchdown pass to fullback Darrel Young in the first quarter cashed in on Foles’ first interception. A fake reserve froze the defense long enough to find Aldrick Robinson wide open for a 49-yard score in the second quarter.
A throw downfield into a double-team in the third quarter turned into a terrific catch by Santana Moss, who leaped between two defenders at the 5-yard line and fought his way into the end zone for a 61-yard score. The icing was a 17-yard throw to tight end Logan Paulsen, who also dragged tacklers with him to the goal line.
Griffin completed passes to nine receivers and has only three interceptions in 277 attempts this season. Foles already has three in just 78 attempts.
Washington last beat a rookie quarterback on Dec. 24, 2005, a 24-9 win over Ryan Fitzpatrick and the St. Louis Rams.