You were probably gripping your chair pretty tightly when the Colts drove down the field late in the fourth quarter with a chance to score a touchdown and take a lead.
But the Eagles stopped them once they got in the red zone.
Of course they did.
That’s what the Eagles do.
“We know if we keep teams out of the end zone, really what happens between the 10-yard lines is irrelevant,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said after the 20-16 win (see Roob's 10 observations).
The Eagles allowed the Colts just one touchdown in five trips to the red zone on Sunday. And in their two wins this season, the Eagles have allowed just two touchdowns in 10 trips for their opponents.
They are dominating down there.
“I think we’re more comfortable in the red zone than anywhere else, to be honest,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins admitted he was being slightly facetious, but said the Eagles’ defense does feel really confident in their abilities with their backs against the wall. The Eagles should feel confident. They were stout down there on Sunday after giving up two red zone touchdowns on two chances last week.
After the Colts’ first trip into the red zone yielded a touchdown on Sunday, they didn’t get back into the end zone. It was like there was an invisible brick wall across the goal line. The Eagles gave up three field goals — including two on drives that started in the red zone after turnovers — and forced a turnover on downs on the penultimate drive that virtually ended the game.
The Colts gained 17 net yards on 18 offensive plays inside the red zone on Sunday! Yikes.
Less than one net yard per play is absolutely incredible.
Here’s how those drives went for the Colts once they got into the red zone:
- 5 plays, 15 net yards, TD
- 1 play, 0 net yards, FG
- 4 plays, 4 net yards, FG
- 3 plays, 3 net yards, FG
- 5 plays, -5 net yards, TOD
That’s simply dominance from the Eagles, who have now given up just four touchdowns on 12 trips into the red zone by their opponents (33.3 percent). For some perspective, the best red zone defense in the NFL last year — the Chargers — gave up touchdowns on 36.1 percent of opponent trips to the red zone.
“I think the biggest thing, is when we have our back to the wall, that’s when we really rise to the occasion,” defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said.
So what makes the Eagles so good on defense in the red zone?
It starts with simple scheme that allows players to think quickly and stay aggressive. The players admit they’re not tricking anyone. Then, they have some good personnel down in the red zone. They have pass rushers who get after QBs and stuff the run. They have DBs who play straight up and don’t allow fades and slants. And they have linebackers who are playmakers, starting with Jordan Hicks, who always seems to be around the ball.
“That’s our standard for the defense,” said Derek Barnett, who had the game-saving play. “We may give up a play here and there, but we really hold our hat on not letting them get into the end zone for seven points.”
Oh yeah, and now the Eagles have plenty of confidence in the red zone. Crossing the 20-yard line is like entering a dead zone.
It might be taking years off your life, but the Eagles are winning football games because of it.