EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles had just kicked a 50-yard field goal and were clinging to a three-point lead but it didn’t feel safe.
The Eagles needed a play.
It should be no surprise it came from Malcolm Jenkins and Fletcher Cox.
With the game and the season on the line, the Eagles’ best defensive players — the only two Pro Bowlers on Jim Schwartz’s defense over the last four years — came up with one of the biggest plays of the day.
“That changed the game,” Tim Jernigan said. “That changed the game.”
The Eagles were bringing pressure on a 2nd-and-8 and the snap to Daniel Jones was low. From there, Jenkins just batted it away and Cox pushed Jones out of the way and fell on the ball at the 2-yard line.
“I just saw him bobbling it and tried to punch it out,” Jenkins said. “Fletch did a good job of scooping it up and getting it down to the 2.”
Boston Scott scored on a two-yard run on the next play and the Eagles’ lead was extended to 10 in their 34-17 win (see observations).
This forced fumble and fumble recovery from Jenkins and Cox was huge.
“We needed that,” Jenkins said. “They had the momentum at that point in time, so that was a big shift, especially to get right down to the [2-yard line] was a huge momentum shift and you feel that as a team and that was the play that sparked it all.”
On the previous drive, the Eagles had given up a 68-yard rushing touchdown to Saquon Barkley, so the lead didn’t feel very safe after Jake Elliott drilled a 50-yard field goal.
The story of the 2019 Eagles is about the injuries to key players and their replacements, some coming from the practice squad. Nothing wrong with unexpected players coming up big. But there’s something to be said for star players making huge plays when it matters. That’s what this was.
In addition to Jenkins and Cox, Brandon Graham also had a great game. He had three tackles, three TFLs and a sack.
In exactly half of the 16 games this season, the Eagles’ defense has given up 17 or fewer points. In fact, it has given up 17 or fewer in seven of the last nine.
“We love it when it comes down to the defense,” Cox said. “I think every guy here steps up. Nobody is out here trying to do anything special. Everybody is just doing their job and I think that’s the thing about the last four weeks. Every man doing their job.”
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