With game on the line, Corey Graham makes play for struggling Eagles D

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With game on the line, Corey Graham makes play for struggling Eagles D

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Eagles were one bad play away from a loss. One bad play away from blowing a huge opportunity. One bad play away from making their road a little harder. 

Corey Graham didn't let it happen. 

Late in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium, the Eagles were clinging to the eventual final score of 34-29, but the Giants had a chance to go up. 

With just 48 seconds left on the clock, Eli Manning and the Giants had 4th-and-goal from the 11-yard line. One play to decide the game. Manning dropped back and targeted one of his favorite receivers, rookie tight end Evan Engram. 

For some strange reason, Graham didn't get credit for a pass defensed on the play, but he successfully defended the pass. And it fell incomplete as the Giants' last-ditch effort failed. 

"It was a situation, the game's on the line," Graham said. "They're going to go to one of their best guys at the time. I knew that there was a good chance they were going to go to my guy. I had to be outside leverage on that play. I just played with good position, with outside leverage and just make sure you're looking back for the ball so you don't get that penalty on you. You just gotta play the ball."

Graham, the 32-year-old safety who signed with the Eagles in August, said the defense was in zone coverage, but Engram was his responsibility 1-on-1. 

After the pass fell incomplete, several Giants were upset there wasn't a defensive pass interference penalty called. Receiver Sterling Shepard was so upset, he ripped his helmet off and began to argue with the official. His passion was rewarded with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. 

"Got it in the end zone and there was some contact being made," Eli Manning said. "I don't know, it's tough to know if it's interference, if it's the call or not. You kind of just put it up high and give him a chance to make the play and we didn't make it." 

Giants interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo said he wasn't given an explanation on why a flag wasn't thrown and wanted to watch the play again before giving his opinion. 

"I wasn't really too worried about it, because I'm looking back playing the ball," Graham said. "When it's all said and done, when you're looking back playing the ball, they ain't gonna call that. It ain't pass interference unless you're hitting the guy and you're not looking. But if you're looking at the ball, it's 50-50."

The Graham play was a good way for the Eagles to finish what was an otherwise bad defensive performance. The Eagles gave up 504 yards, the most in 30 games under Jim Schwartz (see story)

But on that fourth-quarter drive, when they looked like they were about to blow the game, they finally got a huge stop. 

"It's football. You live for those kinds of moments," Jalen Mills said. "Those crunch-time football plays. You live for those types of moments. So you just have to get locked in and play your type of football."

Roob's 10 mid-March Eagles observations

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Roob's 10 mid-March Eagles observations

We're deep into free agency, the draft is rapidly approaching and the 2017 Super Bowl champion Eagles are being reshaped into a new team.

Which means it's a perfect time for a Roob's 10 Observations!

Let's go!

1. As the Eagles move on from LeGarrette Blount and reshape the running back position, it’s intriguing to ponder just how good Corey Clement can be. From what I saw last year? I think the kid can be a stud. His touches were limited until late in the season, but how many rookies have had 300 rushing yards, 200 receiving yards and averaged at least 4.4 yards per carry and 13 yards per catch? Would you believe three in the last 40 years? A guy named Jesse Clark with the Packers in 1983, a guy named Adrian Peterson with the Vikings in 2007 and a guy named Corey Clement. It’s tough to project, but he can run, he can block, he can catch, he’s got a real flair for making big plays and a terrific knack in the red zone. Can’t wait to see him in an expanded role.

2. As for Blount, you can’t understate his value to the Eagles last year, both as a running back and a leader. For a guy with his resume to come into that locker room and not once complain about his workload – even when he had no carries against the Chiefs – was remarkable. His selfless attitude really resonated with the young guys in the locker room. And I know a lot of fans were upset to see him go, but as incredible as his Super Bowl performance was, you can’t forget that in the seven games leading up to the Super Bowl he averaged 2.9 yards per carry. And he’s 31 years old. If the reported numbers are correct, Blount’s $4.5 million 2018 salary makes him the 12th-highest-paid running back in the league. Good for him. I wish him well. He was a huge part of that 2017 team. But it made no sense for the Eagles to bring him back.

3. It’s amazing how much money teams keep throwing at Sam Bradford. He’s got 34 wins in eight seasons, he’s never had a winning record, he’s never made a postseason, and on the rare occasions when he’s been healthy, he’s won only 43 percent of his starts. Oh, and he’s missed 42 games since 2013. “He’s our guy!”

4. Speaks volumes that both Blount and Torrey Smith singled out Duce Staley in their tweets or Instagram posts saying goodbye to Philly after joining new teams. Duce wasn’t even Smith’s position coach, and he still singled him out. LeGarrette wrote: “To my main man Coach Duce Staley – You have impacted my life on and off the field and pushed me to be the best version of me I can be and for that I thank you!” Duce is such a natural leader and such a big part of what the Eagles accomplished in 2017. He’s going to be a head coach one day.

5. The Eagles lost Vinny Curry, but they have Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett and Chris Long. They lost Trey Burton and Brent Celek, but they have Zach Ertz. They lost Smith, but they have Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins. They lost Blount, but they have Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. They lost Patrick Robinson, but they have Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Ronald Darby and Daryl Worley. They’ve lost a lot, but they’re still stocked at every position where they lost someone. Pretty darn good roster planning.

6. I feel like in the wake of Nick Foles’ brilliant postseason, people are forgetting exactly how good Carson Wentz was before he got hurt. So here’s a list of every quarterback in NFL history with 33 or more touchdown passes and seven or fewer interceptions in a season before his 30th birthday: Carson Wentz.

7. I wonder how much Haloti Ngata has left. He’s 34, he’s coming off a torn biceps, and he’s five years removed from his last Pro Bowl. Beau Allen was quietly a very solid backup defensive tackle and played a big role in that D-line rotation the second half of the season after Tim Jernigan hurt his ankle. I don’t mind the signing. Ngata comes cheap and there’s really nothing to lose. But it’s been a while since he’s been a dominant player, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in.

8. If you’ve never been to Canton, Ohio, plan your trip now. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a great place to visit any time. But the weekend of Brian Dawkins’ induction is going to be unforgettable. Dawk’s speech is going to be epic.

9. The Philly Special may be the greatest play in Eagles history, but where does the fourth-quarter fourth-down conversion rank? The Eagles trailed with 5 ½ minutes left and faced a 4th-and-1 inside midfield when Foles converted a short completion to Ertz. If they don’t convert, they lose. That’s gotta be a top-10 all-time play. Maybe top-five.

10. Tight ends with more catches than Ertz in their first five NFL seasons: Kellen Winslow Sr., Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates.

Torrey Smith says Carson Wentz is going to get PAID

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Torrey Smith says Carson Wentz is going to get PAID

We all know just how good Carson Wentz is. Heck, the entire NFL knows just how good Wentz is after the Eagles' QB put together a remarkable season with 3,296 passing yards and 33 TD tosses ... in just 13 games.

But we and the entire league also know what that means: Wentz is going to get a lot more zeros added to his paycheck soon.

Wideout Torrey Smith, recently traded by the Eagles to the Panthers, knows full well what Wentz's worth is and isn't shy to talk about it, as he did at his charity basketball event in Maryland on Saturday evening.

"When Carson's time comes, they're going to need a Brinks truck the size of this arena," Smith, who caught 33 balls for 692 yards and two TDs from Wentz last season, told ESPN's Jamison Hensley while noting the Eagles are taking full advantage of Wentz's discounted rookie deal right now.

Wentz is in the middle of a four-year, $26.6 million deal signed after he was drafted No. 2 overall in 2016. The deal expires after the 2019 season, but obviously Howie Roseman and crew know this all is looming. And they also know recent QB contract numbers have continued to skyrocket.

San Francisco recently made Jimmy Garrapollo, he of seven career starts but also of five straight wins to end last season after his trade from New England, the richest QB in league history with a five-year, $137.5 million deal. Detroit gave Matthew Stafford a five-year, $135 million deal prior to last season, a few months after Oakland gave Derek Carr a five-year, $125 million extension. Those three are the top-paid QBs in the league.

Long story short: With the way Wentz has performed with 7,049 passing yards and 49 TDs in 29 career starts, he's going to get PAID.

And Roseman's acts of salary cap magic are going to have to continue because Wentz is going to get paid sooner than later, and the whole league knows it.