The 10 greatest defensive performances in Eagles history

The 10 greatest defensive performances in Eagles history

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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A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones in Roob's 10 Observations

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones in Roob's 10 Observations

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones, an unbelievable Sam Bradford stat and the continuing saga of Reb Russell.

It's all right here in this weekend's Roob's 10 Eagles Observations! 

1. I keep trying to convince myself, "This will be the year we see the real Sidney Jones." And coming out of last year, I really believed Jones, going into Year 4, had a chance to really get his legs healthy this spring and then show everybody in minicamps, OTAs, training camp and the preseason games that he could hold down the CB2 opposite Darius Slay. But if the curtailed offseason and preseason hurts anybody the most, it's Jones. The Eagles have made it clear Avonte Maddox is the projected starter, and as long Maddox stays healthy I don't see how Sidney can win the job. Without any spring workouts or preseason games? Can Jones do enough just in a few weeks of training camp practice to beat out Maddox? I don't think so.

2. Who has the highest 4th-quarter passer rating among Eagles quarterbacks? Going back to 1994, as far back as the Pro Football Reference database logs quarter-by-quarter stats, here's the surprising answer (minimum of 100 4th-quarter attempts):

95.9 ... Sam Bradford

88.4 ... Michael Vick

84.5 ... Carson Wentz

83.6 ... Donovan McNabb

81.9 ... Nick Foles

76.9 ... Rodney Peele

76.7 ... Mark Sanchez

70.3 ... Ty Detmer

64.1 ... Bobby Hoying

62.7 ... Randall Cunningham

59.0 ... Koy Detmer 

(Remember, this only includes Randall's last two years with the Eagles) 

3. As good as T.O. was in 2004, he was on his way to an even bigger season in 2005 before he imploded and got himself suspended. Owens was 47-for-763 with 6 TDs after seven games, which put him on pace for 107 catches and 1,744 yards with 13 TDs. The only players in NFL history to reach those plateaus in a season are Jerry Rice and Isaac Bruce. T.O.'s 93.5 yards per game as an Eagle is 23 yards per game more than any other WR in franchise history. DeSean Jackson (69.7), Mike Quick (64.0), Irving Fryar (63.9) and Jeremy Maclin (63.6) are next.

4. If the NFL does wind up reducing rosters from 90 to 75 because of the curtailed or eliminated preseason and for social distancing purposes, the league needs to give each team the opportunity to retain the rights of some or all of the players they're forced to release. Maybe pay them a weekly reduced salary and let them participate in virtual meetings and remain part of the team without actually being at practice. It would be a shame to see the Eagles forced to cut ties with promising kids like Adrian Killians Jr., Grayland Arnold, Raequan Williams, Mike Warren, Sua Opeta or Deontay Burnett because of the current circumstances. The league and the NFLPA need to find a way to make sure that doesn't happen.

5. I just remembered the Eagles paid Nelson Agholor $9.387 million last year.

6. The Frankford Yellow Jackets won the 1926 NFL Championship, but by the early 1930s, they may have been the worst professional sports team in Philadelphia history. They won only 3 of their last 24 games and scored 7 or fewer points in 20 of those 24 games. 

7. What are the odds that the Eagles' two recent Hall of Famers — Brian Dawkins and Harold Carmichael — went to the same high school? Both graduated from Raines High in Jacksonville. Raines has produced numerous other NFL players, including Lito Sheppard, Shawn Jefferson and Ken Burrough, along with baseball's Vince Coleman. Surprisingly, 16 high schools produced multiple Hall of Famers, including one — George Washington in L.A. — that produced three (James Lofton, Hugh McElhenny, Bill Walsh). 

8. Carson Wentz's 32 wins are 15th-most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first four seasons. He's also one of only five of the top 20 that didn't win a playoff game during those four years. The others are Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Steve Grogan, Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer. Ryan won one in his 5th season, Manning in his 6th and Palmer in his 14th. Dalton and Grogan never did win one. One of these years, Wentz will win one. Right?

9. Donovan McNabb had already won four playoff games and reached two NFC Championship Games by the end of his fourth season.

10. Everyone seemed to enjoy last week's excerpt from newspaper coverage of the Eagles' first game in franchise history in 1933, so here's an excerpt from the Inquirer story reporting the first win in franchise history, 6-0 over the Reds later in 1933: 

"Tall, slab-sided, loose-limbed Swede Hanson, the new Galloping Ghost of the commercial gridiron, raced over the last white stripe today, as the Philadelphia Eagles achieved their first conquest of the season, 6-0. Hanson, lean and lank and lantern jawed, was the hero of this game, as he has starred in all of the frays in which the Eagles have been a part. For two periods, the Birds and their Red foes battered away at the line or sought the air but all in vain. In the third quarter, however, the Wraymen turned into a devastating horde." 

The story goes on to describe Hanson's touchdown, the game's only score: 

"It was fourth down now and the goal line beckoning in tantalizing fashion straight ahead. Then Hanson and (Reb) Russell outwtitted their foes. Reb came tearing in as if to shoot off tackle. The Reds tumbled through upon the former Purple hero, however, who was ready for this emergency. As the gang tried to pile up, Russell flipped a lateral, straight and unerring, right into Hanson's arms. Like a flash, the Swede lighted out for the end, slipped past two tackles and went over the line."

Wraymen? Really? Remember, that team's coach was Lud Wray. Guess I should start calling the Eagles the Dougmen?

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Report: NFLPA board unanimously recommends to cancel entire preseason 

Report: NFLPA board unanimously recommends to cancel entire preseason 

Just two days after we learned the NFL’s plan to cut the 2020 preseason in half, the NFL Players Association is reportedly recommending that the league cancel the entire preseason. 

The NFLPA’s board of representatives voted unanimously on the recommendation, according to ESPN. 

On Wednesday, ProFootballTalk reported that the NFL was cutting the preseason in half because of the coronavirus pandemic, keeping Weeks 2 and 3 but eliminating Weeks 1 and 4. Other reports indicated that those preseason games would be pushed back later into August. 

If the Eagles end up playing the original Weeks 2 and 3 of their preseason schedule, they will face the Dolphins on the road and the Patriots at home. They were originally scheduled to be at Indianapolis in Week 1 and at home against the Jets in Week 4, but those games have already been canceled. 

The NFL is still planning for training camps to begin on July 28 with rookies and select vets allowed to report earlier. 

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said earlier this offseason that his team will need the entire five-to-six-week training camp to get ready for the 2020 season, especially after missing the entire spring workout schedule because of the pandemic. 

The Eagles are scheduled to begin their 2020 regular season in Washington on Sept. 13. 

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