Nine interceptions in a game? Eleven sacks in a game? A seven-play goal-line stand? Back-to-back fumble returns of 70 or more yards?

The Eagles' defense has given us some unforgettable moments over the years, and choosing the 10 greatest defensive performances in franchise history wasn't easy.

We had to drop a 1944 game in which the Eagles held the Brooklyn Tigers to just 29 yards (the Tigers folded after the game). We couldn't squeeze in the 10-sack, 3-takeaway 31-6 win over the Jets last year. We didn't have room for the 31-3 blowout of the Bears in 2017, when they held Chicago 6 rushing yards or the time in 2005 when they held Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson to 7 rushing yards on 17 carries.

This is a franchise that's always prided itself on defense. From Chuck Bednarik to Reggie White to Dawk to Fletch.

Yesterday, we recalled the 10 worst defensive performances in Eagles history. Here are the 10 best:  

Eagles 7, Cardinals 0
Shibe Park, Dec. 19, 1948

Eagles 14, Rams 0
L.A. Coliseum, Dec. 18, 1949

In the 1948 NFL Championship Game, the Eagles held the Cards to 131 net yards and six first downs and forced three turnovers, and in the 1949 NFL Championship Game, they held the Rams to 119 net yards and just seven first downs. This is one of the most underrated accomplishments in U.S. sports history. The Eagles won back-to-back NFL championships, shutting out both teams and holding them to a total of just 250 yards. Amazing! 

 

Eagles 45, Cardinals 7
Comiskey Park, Sept. 24, 1950

The Eagles forced 12 turnovers in their win over the Cards, including eight interceptions of Jim Hardy — the most INTs a quarterback has ever thrown in an NFL game. The 12 takeaways tied an NFL record set eight years earlier by the Bears in Detroit and later matched by the Eagles in a 1965 win over the Steelers, which you’ll read about below.

Eagles 47, Steelers 13
Pitt Stadium, Dec. 12, 1965

Jim Nettles had three of them. Joe Scarpati had two. Maxie Baughan, Irv Cross, Nate Ramsey and George Tarasovic had one apiece. The Eagles tied NFL records with NINE interceptions and 12 takeaways in their blowout win over the Steelers. Nettles, Baughan and Tarasovic returned INTs for touchdowns. That’s the only time in the last 77 years an NFL team has had nine INTs in a game and one of only 12 times a team has had three INT return TDs. For the sake of comparison, the 2018 Eagles had only 10 interceptions … all year!

Eagles 24, Redskins 0
RFK Stadium, Nov. 16, 1980

The Super Bowl-bound Eagles extended their winning streak to seven in a row with a monster performance in Washington. Richard Blackmore, Charlie Johnson and Roynell Young picked off Joe Theismann, Jerry Robinson returned a Wilbur Jackson fumble 59 yards for a touchdown and the Eagles blanked the Redskins in Washington for the first time since 1950. The Eagles, under defensive coordinator Marion Campbell, finished No. 1 in the NFL in defense in both 1980 and 1981.

Eagles 24, Cowboys 0
Texas Stadium, Sept. 15, 1991

The Eagles sacked Troy Aikman 11 times, picked him off three times and held the Cowboys to 90 yards. Clyde Simmons had 4 ½ sacks, Rich Miano had two intereptions and Emmitt Smith didn’t have a run longer than eight yards. Total domination. One of only seven games in NFL history where a team recorded at least 11 INTs and 3 INTs and one of only two that were shutouts. The only time in franchise history the Cowboys have been shut out at home and held below 100 yards. In a season of remarkable defensive performances, this was the best.

Eagles 13, Oilers 6
Houston Astrodome, Dec. 2, 1991

It was open season on Oilers receivers on an iconic Monday night at the Astrodome, which the Oilers liked to call The House of Pain. The Oilers ran the spread offense, and Andre Waters, Wes Hopkins, Otis Smith and Seth Joyner spent the evening laying out Ernest Givens, Haywood Jeffires, Drew Hill and every other receiver Jack Pardee sent out there. Joyner had two of the Eagles’ four sacks of Warren Moon, the Eagles forced six Houston fumbles (recovering five), and the Oilers managed only 21 rushing yards. The Eagles, down to Jeff Kemp after Jim McMahon hurt his elbow, mustered only 13 points. It was enough. “They brought the house, we brought the pain,” Jerome Brown bellowed as he walked into the locker room. “Plain and simple, we put a hurtin’ on them,” Reggie White said.

 

Eagles 30, Broncos 0
Veterans Stadium, Sept. 20, 1992

This was Bud Carson at his best, shutting down a Hall of Fame quarterback in his prime — John Elway was 8-for-18 for 59 yards and got picked off by Otis Smith. The Eagles not only blanked the Broncos, they held them to 82 yards and just four first downs. That’s the fewest yards the Eagles have allowed in a game since 1955 and the fewest the Broncos have had since 1967. 

Eagles 7, Cardinals 3
Veterans Stadium, Oct. 25, 1992

The greatest goal-line stand in Eagles history. The Cards trailed 7-0 late in the second quarter when Aeneas Williams’ interception return gave them a 1st-and-goal on the Eagles’ 3-yard line. Here’s what the next seven plays looked like:

1st-and-goal, 3-yard line: Johnny Bailey 2-yard gain [Joyner]
2nd-and-goal, 1-yard line: Eagles offsides
2nd-and-goal, 1-yard line: Johnny Bailey no gain [Golic]
3rd-and-goal, 1-yard line: Eagles offsides
3rd-and-goal, 1-yard line: Johnny Bailey no gain [Pitts]
4th-and-goal, 1-yard line: Johnny Bailey no gain [White]

The Cards had seven cracks from inside the 3, six of them from the 1-yard line, and they couldn’t score. 

Eagles 33, Bears 19
Soldier Field, Jan. 19, 2002

You can take your pick from a number of monster performances during Jim Johnson’s 10 years as defensive coordinator, but the conference semifinal playoff win over the top-seeded Bears on a bitterly cold day at Soldier Field is my favorite. The Eagles simply manhandled the Bears, from Hugh Douglas knocking Jim Miller out of the game to interceptions by Rashard Cook, Carlos Emmons and Damon Moore to 11 tackles by Jeremiah Trotter and sacks by Cook and Hugh. The Bears scored 19 points but only 10 on offense, just three in the second half. The Bears have played 33 postseason games in franchise history, and their 184 yards — in their own stadium — is their fewest all-time. It’s also the fewest the Eagles have allowed in a postseason game since 1949.

Eagles 44, Cowboys 6
Lincoln Financial Field, Dec. 28, 2008

One of the most fun days in Eagles history. They needed the Raiders — 10-point underdogs — to upset the Buccaneers in Tampa and the 7-9 Texans to beat the 9-6 Bears in 1 o’clock games just for their 4 p.m. game against the Cowboys to mean something. When those unikely events occurred, the Eagles only needed to beat the Cowboys to reach the playoffs. It was already 27-3 early in the third quarter when Brian Dawkins sacked Tony Romo and forced a fumble that Chris Clemons returned down the right sideline 73 yards for a touchdown. Eight players later, Dawk forced a Marion Barber fumble deep in Eagles territory, Joselio Hanson recovered and returned it 96 yards for another TD. It was the first time since the Eagles’ Joe Carter and Bob Pulman did it against the Giants in 1938 that teammates had fumble return TDs of over 70 yards in the same game and the only time they did it in the same quarter. It was a brilliant day for the Jim Johnson defense, with Sheldon Brown’s INT and 23-yard return setting up a touchdown, Clemons adding two sacks and Dawk and Darren Howard one apiece and Akeem Jordan contributing 11 tackles. 

 

Eagles 24, Redskins 0
FedEx Field, Dec. 30, 2018

The Eagles needed a win combined with a Bears win over the Vikings to get into the playoffs. Nick Foles took care of the offense, and the defense blanked the Redskins for the first time since 1980, limiting them to 21 rushing yards, 89 total yards and just 16 ½ minutes of possession. The 89 yards were the Redskins’ fewest in 57 years and the fewest the Eagles allowed in 27 years.

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