Eagles

Maddox and Slay have Detroit homecoming for the ages

Eagles

DETROIT — You couldn’t have written it any better.

Avonte Maddox grew up in Detroit as a huge Lions fans and he has a tattoo on his arm to prove it. He always looked up to Darius Slay, who was drafted by the Lions and played seven years there.

So it’s pretty cool that the two Eagles combined for the exclamation point on the 44-6 win over the Lions at Ford Field on Sunday.

Late in the third quarter, when the Eagles were already up 31-0, Maddox punched the football out of the hands of D’Andre Swift. Slay scooped the ball and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown.

“That was pretty nice. Detroit on Detroit right there,” Maddox said. “That’s what I called it. That was pretty cool. Punched out the ball and I’m looking for the ball and I just see (No.) 2, Slay, running to the end zone. So I was pretty hyped about that.”

What’s even cooler is that once Maddox and Slay began to celebrate in the end zone, Maddox asked Slay for the ball. And although this was just Slay’s second NFL touchdown, he handed it to Maddox.

The 25-year-old Maddox, playing for the first time at Ford Field, promptly found his father in the stands and delivered the souvenir.

“I appreciate Slay for that,” Maddox said. “That’s pretty cool.”

Maddox had several family members in the stands on Sunday and he also got tickets for the players at Martin Luther King High School, his alma mater.

 

It was important for Maddox to get the ball to his dad.

“Because he’s been there every game since the beginning, since I started playing any type of sport,” Maddox said. “He pushed me through a lot with it and he was always tough on me with it. He didn’t really get to come out to the away games because he works. It was pretty cool to get him back at home. It was his first game he came to this year and I got a turnover and Slay was kind enough to give me the ball and I was happy to give him the ball.”

Maddox is in the final year of his four-year rookie contract with the Eagles and the move back into the nickel spot has really been paying off. It’s time for the Eagles to think about extending him; he’s playing at a very high level.

As far as the punch of the football, it was the third forced fumble of Maddox’s career and the first since 2019. New defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has been emphasizing the importance of forcing turnovers. Maddox said he’s been working on it so much to make that his natural instinct. It paid off in a big way on Sunday.

“I wasn’t even going for the tackle,” Maddox said. “I was going for the punch out.”

While this was a true homecoming for Maddox, it was also a homecoming for Slay, who spent seven years playing in Detroit before getting traded to the Eagles before last season.

Slay made three Pro Bowls in Detroit and while he didn’t have a good relationship with former head coach Matt Patricia toward the end of his time with the Lions, still appreciates his time in the city and the fans of the team. Sunday meant something to him too.

That’s why, along with Jason Kelce, Slay and Maddox went to midfield before Sunday’s game for the coin toss. Maddox didn’t know he’d be an honorary captain until Sunday morning.

“Coach Nick, he called me in and said, ‘You and Slay are going out there,’” Maddox said. “That’s pretty cool. I appreciate him for that. My first time being back at home and my first time playing the Lions. I got the opportunity to walk out for the coin toss. I thought that was pretty cool.”

Unfortunately, the Eagles lost the coin toss. The only blemish on an otherwise perfect homecoming.

But that was the last thing on Sunday that didn’t go their way.

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