Good thing T.J. Edwards' hamstring healed. Because if he didn't play Sunday night, I'm not sure the Eagles win.
Edwards returned for the Cowboys game after missing three games with a hamstring injury he suffered in the win over the 49ers on Oct. 4.
He returned to practice last week and was activated off Injured Reserve on Saturday.
Just in time.
Edwards had the best game of his 1½-year career Sunday night when the Eagles needed him the most.
He played a career-high 62 snaps in the 23-9 win at the Linc and recorded a career-high 13 tackles, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hurry and his first career sack, forcing a Ben DiNucco fumble that Rodney McLeod recovered and returned for the clinching touchdown with 5½ minutes left.
It was the best game the Eagles have gotten from a linebacker this year.
Not a particularly high bar. But he was huge.
“I’d have to watch the tape because it’s never as good as it seems, it’s never as bad as it seems, but it definitely felt pretty good just being able to get out there and being healthy and just running around with those guys and having fun,” Edwards said. “As a team we just had a lot of fun today no matter what’s going on. It’s always fun to be out there and contribute to a big-time win.”
Edwards played 112 snaps all last year as an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin and was averaging 30 per game when he got hurt.
But with Nate Gerry out and the Eagles expecting a healthy dose of the Cowboys’ running game, Edwards' role was expanded.
“We knew they ran a lot of 12 personnel, so I figured it would be a good amount of base snaps,” he said. “Toward the end of the game, got moved to nickel and just got … comfortable, got a feel for the game at that time. So you always have to be ready for whatever the coaches think and I'm just glad that my rehab went well so I was able to perform well tonight.”
Edwards became the first Eagles linebacker to force a fumble that the Eagles recovered for a touchdown since Brian Rolle forced a Matt Forte fumble after a pass from Jay Cutler and returned it 22 yards in a game the Bears won at the Linc in 2011.
Believe it or not, it was the first strip sack by an Eagles linebacker that led to a TD return since Seth Joyner forced a Chris Chandler fumble in an Eagles-Cards game at Sun Devil Stadium in 1992 that Reggie White returned 37 yards for a touchdown.
Carson Wentz, whose four turnovers kept the Cowboys in the game, went over to Edwards after the play and thanked him.
“It was a huge play by T.J.” Wentz said. “Offensively, we struggled. I have to be better. But the defense bailed us out. That was a huge play in the game to put us in a great situation there at the end of the game, so I was really fired up about it.”
It was the Eagles’ first fumble recovery touchdown in over a year, since Orlando Scandrick’s strip sack and TD return against the Jets and quarterback Luke Falk.
McLeod’s 53-yard return was the Eagles’ longest fumble return for a touchdown since Walter Thurmond returned an Eli Manning fumble forced by Connor Barwin 83 yards for a TD on the final day of the 2015 season — the game Pat Shurmur coached after Chip Kelly was fired.
The play looked dead before the ball finally bounced over to McLeod.
“It was a pressure that we had in and we just executed really well and were able to get the ball out,” Edwards said. “A little luck with the bounce and Rodney did what he does and picked it up and finished it for a touchdown.
"We needed a little spark there at the end and I was just happy to be part of that play.”