Despite lack of catches, Torrey Smith making difference in unique way

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Despite lack of catches, Torrey Smith making difference in unique way

Torrey Smith may not be catching a ton of passes these days, but he's helping the Eagles in another way.

By not catching them.

Smith drew his third pass interference penalty of the year Sunday in the win over the 49ers, and it was a big 36-yard penalty on Dontae Johnson down to the 1-yard line to set up the game's first touchdown at a point in which very little was going right for the Eagles.

This is nothing new. Going back to his rookie year of 2011, he's drawn an incredible 41 pass interference calls, along with eight defensive holding penalties.

Add them up and we're looking at 849 yards.

That's about half a mile of pass interference penalties.

Without going through thousands of gamebooks, there's no way to determine exactly where Smith ranks in the NFL since 2011 in drawing pass interference penalties.

But it's a safe bet to say he's among the leaders.

“If DPI's counted in your stats, I’d probably be a Hall of Famer," Smith said this week with a laugh. "I swear. It's been happening for years.

"I’m telling you. Literally years of being held. It happened so often in Baltimore, I’m not exaggerating when I say I would have had 15 touchdowns.”

On Sunday, Smith's 36-yard PI was the Eagles' second-longest offensive play of the game. Even though it doesn't even count as a play.

Smith is certainly not putting up the kind of numbers some expected. He has just 14 catches for 210 yards and one touchdown along with four drops in half a season.

Among wide receivers with six or more starts, he's tied with Kamar Aiken of the Colts for fewest catches this year. His 210 yards are fourth fewest.

The last three games, he has one catch for six yards.

"I haven’t really had the ball much the last few weeks," he said. "It’s not something you want. You’d rather make big plays and big catches and help the team win than draw penalties, but at the end of the day, my No. 1 job is to help the team win the game, and that’s happening, so I just have to make sure I’m ready when my number is called."

After being targeted 23 times the first five games, he's been targeted only five times the last three.

Asked how tough this stretch has been, he said, "I think it’s easier to deal with that when you’re winning."

Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said he was so impressed by Smith's effort on the play in which he drew a penalty Sunday that he showed it to the team in meetings Monday.

"It's definitely a skill," Reich said, "but here is what else it is, and this is one of the points that we made as an offense: On that particular play, I wish I could show it to you right now. That it was not just a skill, it was the effort.

"There were two minutes to go in the half. It's 3-0. We are not exactly lighting it up. It's 3rd-and-15. We are probably going in 6-0 at halftime. That's a huge play in the game.

"Torrey is probably, if you had a meter on him, is probably running faster than he's run all year long. To put a defender in a position where he's compromised, where he has to extend himself further to commit interference.

"If Torrey is maybe just going 98 percent, as opposed to 100, that's probably not a penalty. The defender can make the play with ease rather than having to extend.

"Those are the kind of things that can win or lose games. That play to me was a huge play in the game. Even though the score ended up being a wide margin, we were struggling a little bit on offense. … It's not only a skill, but it was an effort and an attitude."

Smith's stats aren't that impressive. But look past the stats, look past the numbers, and he has helped the Eagles get to 7-1.

"Rather have a touchdown than a PI," Smith said. "I probably would have like 15 more touchdowns in my career if I didn't get held.

"There's no secret to it. Just run and people kind of panic sometimes and that’s how it goes. It sounds simple, but just play fast and they’ll grab you."

Best of NFL: Cowboys offense sputters again in loss to Chargers

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Best of NFL: Cowboys offense sputters again in loss to Chargers

ARLINGTON, Texas — Philip Rivers threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns in his first Thanksgiving game in his 14th season and the Los Angeles Chargers beat the fading Dallas Cowboys 28-6 on Thursday.

Desmond King returned an interception 90 yards for the punctuating touchdown as the Chargers (5-6) moved within 1 1/2 games of AFC West-leading Kansas City after starting 0-4 while the Chiefs won their first five.

The defending NFC East champion Cowboys (5-6) lost their third straight by at least 20 points, all without star running back Ezekiel Elliott, in a damaging defeat for their fading playoff hopes.

Dallas, playing its 50th Thanksgiving game, finally ended a touchdown drought at a team-record 10 quarters on Rod Smith's 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter.

Keenan Allen had a career-high 172 yards on 11 catches with a touchdown, giving him 23 grabs for 331 yards and three scores in the past two games (see full recap).

Vikings beat Lions, stay on Eagles' heels
DETROIT — Case Keenum threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score all in the first half to give the Minnesota Vikings a double-digit lead and they went on to beat the Detroit Lions 30-23 Thursday.

The Vikings (9-2) took a huge step toward winning the NFC North, taking a three-game lead over the second-place Lions.

Detroit (6-5) made mistakes in every phase of the game and Minnesota took advantage.

Keenum was 21 of 30 for 282 yards with both TD passes to Kyle Rudolph that gave the Vikings a 20-3 lead late in the second quarter.

The Lions rallied to pull within four points early in the fourth quarter on Matthew Stafford's second TD pass to Marvin Jones.

Xavier Rhodes ended Detroit's comeback hopes with an interception at the Detroit 37 late in the game (see full recap). 

Redskins beat Giants in turkey of a Thanksgiving game
LANDOVER, Md. — Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes to compensate for a pick-6, and the Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants 20-10 on Thursday night on a drab field in a drab game between two injury-depleted teams that did not look ready for prime time.

The first half, in particular, was devoid of highlights: The NFC East rivals combined for nine punts and only six points.

But Cousins led Washington (5-6) on two TD drives in the second half, connecting with Jamison Crowder on a 15-yarder in the third quarter that broke a 3-all tie, and with Josh Doctson on a 14-yarder with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the game.

In between, cornerback Janoris Jenkins intercepted Cousins' pass and returned the ball 53 yards to make it 10-all.

In the second half, the Giants (2-9) had one possession end with an interception by Eli Manning, four end with punts and another when they turned the ball over on downs (see full recap). 

Eagles injury report: Jake Elliott still in concussion protocol

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Eagles injury report: Jake Elliott still in concussion protocol

Eagles kicker Jake Elliott is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol but it looks likely that he’ll be able to play on Sunday.

Elliott was a full participant in Thursday’s practice after being a limited participant on Wednesday. In Phase 4 of the concussion protocol, players are allowed to participate in non-contact drills.

Elliott suffered a concussion in the first half of Sunday’s game in Dallas and the team played the second half without a kicker. If Elliott can’t play against the Bears the Eagles will either bring back Caleb Sturgis from IR or sign an outside kicker.

While Elliott was able to practice  on Thursday, Beau Allen (knee) and Trey Burton (back) did not practice. Allen has missed practice Wednesday and Thursday.

Rodney McLeod (oblique) was a full participant on Thursday.