Eagles

Game-winning stand just another play for Eagles' defense

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Game-winning stand just another play for Eagles' defense

There were no special instructions. No extraordinary measures taken. Not much was said. Not much needed to be said.

The game was on the line. The season was on the line. For the Eagles' defense, it was just another play. The stakes were just incredibly high.

It was 4th-and-goal for the Falcons at the Eagles' 2-yard-line in the final seconds Saturday.

Give up a touchdown, and the season's over. Stop the Falcons and you're one game closer to the Super Bowl.

"Our guys, we don't do a whole lot," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "Our guys know what to do, and they have downloaded that software enough that it's a little bit automatic for them.

"We also didn't change. We don't surprise the players. What we practiced in our red-zone period is what we played."

The Falcons had already driven from their own 24-yard-line down to the 2-yard-line.

Their quarterback, Matt Ryan, has the fourth-highest passer rating in NFL postseason history, behind Jeff Hostetler and Hall of Famers Kurt Warner and Bart Starr.

That's what the Eagles' defense was up against.

"At that point, you sort of have to trust the players and the players have to trust the scheme," Schwartz said. "I think you saw a combination of both of those. We didn't feel the need to blitz. Played coverage, played good technique."

The clock showed 1:05.

Ryan’s two favorite receivers, Julio Jones and Mohamad Sanu, both lined up on the right side of the formation, Jones outside with Jalen Mills on him and Sanu in the slot with Malcolm Jenkins covering him in a battle of North Jersey natives.

Ryan took the shotgun snap from center Alex Mack at the 7-yard-line and immediately rolled to his right, retreating to the 10 as he neared the sideline.

Nigel Bradham, lined up as the left linebacker, trampled blocking tight end Levine Tollolo, who had his hands full with Brandon Graham, and ran around guard Wes Schweitzer, giving him an angle on Ryan. 

Meanwhile, Vinny Curry, after getting cut blocked to the ground by Falcons running back Tevin Coleman, quickly bounced back up and began pursuing from Ryan’s left. 

Ryan pumped once toward Sanu, who was covered by Jenkins. He quickly looked left but saw only Curry closing in. Thanks to the pressure, he had to quickly backpedal back to the 14-yard-line and finally was forced to unload that lob toward Jones at the right sideline in the end zone.

At that point, it was up to Mills, who had Jones blanketed, and the rest is history.

The ball went through Jones’ hands, his feet came down out of bounds anyway, and after an agonizing moment looking for flags, the play was over.

"A lot gets made of what Jalen did, rightfully so," Schwartz said. "You're talking about a Pro Bowl, All-Pro receiver, 1-on-1. But Malcolm playing the seven route to Sanu and Rodney (McLeod’s) ability to help him leverage that, that was because he's looking for Julio Jones first.

"Julio slips, he's looking for Sanu, nowhere to go and now he has to re-rack that thing and by then, Nigel is closing down on him and everything else.

"If Malcolm doesn't get that route that he covered, if he doesn't get that covered, nobody's talking about Jalen Mills right now."

Mills was physical with Jones but not physical enough to draw a flag. Schwartz said Mills has made huge strides this year with his technique, and on the biggest play of his life, his technique was perfect.

"It's one thing to have confidence, but that's just not the sole requirement for the position," Schwartz said.

"There's a lot of technique that goes along with playing, and I think if you look at that last play, he did a great job of staying square. Meaning his shoulders were perpendicular to the line of scrimmage.

"What the receiver there is trying to do is get you turned so he can come back for the ball. He could never get Jalen turned."

Mills is 23 years old, a second-year pro, a former seventh-round pick, a first-year starter.

To think that he made one of the most historic plays in Eagles postseason history is remarkable.

"I think every player makes a big jump from year one to year two, as far as knowledge of scheme and knowledge of opponents and things like that," Schwartz said.

"(Defensive backs coach Cory) Undlin and Jalen have worked really hard. He's haunted the hallways quite a bit, even on off days this year, just trying to improve his technique. It hasn't been by chance that his technique has gotten better. It's a lot of hard work that's gone into it from a coaching standpoint and from a player's standpoint."

The bottom line is that this defense has played tremendous football all year.

And with the season on the line, everybody simply went out and did their job. Nothing more, nothing less.

"I just think a part of our success is our guys just understand what's asked of them in the schemes," Schwartz said.

"They communicate well. We don't make a lot of mistakes, mental mistakes, and I think that makes it hard to drive the ball on us.

"When you get into those situations where is it's closed quarters and you don't have to defend deep balls, our guys have a good understanding of what opponents are going to do. I was proud of them on that play."

Good Eagles news for those who value sleep

Good Eagles news for those who value sleep

The Eagles-Seahawks game in two weeks at the Linc has been flexed out of its Sunday Night Football spot to an afternoon kickoff.

The Eagles will now host the Seahawks at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24 on FOX in Week 12.

From the NFL:

- Eagles-Seahawks moves from 8:20 p.m. on NBC to 1 p.m. on FOX.

- Packers-49ers moves from 4:25 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. on NBC.

This is good news for anyone who hates those late-night starts and values sleep, but bad news if you’re living out of town and wanted to watch the Eagles on national TV.

Before this change, the Eagles weren’t scheduled to have any of their remaining four home games as 1 p.m. starts. This also means the Eagles have just one more primetime game scheduled — Monday Night Football at home against the Giants on Dec. 9.

Here’s the Eagles’ updated remaining schedule as it stands now:

Week: 11: vs. NE on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 4:25 p.m.
Week 12: vs. SEA on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1 p.m.
Week 13: @ MIA on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 1 p.m.
Week 14: vs. NYG on Monday, Dec. 9 at 8:15 p.m.
Week 15: @ WAS on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m.
Week 16: vs. DAL on Sunday, Dec. 22 at 4:25 p.m.
Week 17: @ NYG on Sunday, Dec. 29 at 1 p.m.

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Do Tom Brady and Patriots have a Philly Special of their own planned this time around?

Do Tom Brady and Patriots have a Philly Special of their own planned this time around?

Tom Brady was asked this week how long it took him to get over the Super Bowl loss to the Eagles.
 
“You’re saying I’m over it? Come on now,” Brady said. “That’s a lot of mental scar tissue from that year.”
 
Brady will face the Eagles Sunday for the first time since Super Bowl LII, when the Eagles beat the Patriots 41-33 in Minneapolis.
 
Brady has played in nine Super Bowls, winning six. He’s won three of his last four. But on Feb. 4, 2018, the Eagles toppled Brady and Bill Belichick, setting off the greatest celebration in Philadelphia history.
 
“That was a tough game,” Brady said during his weekly appearance on WEEI in Boston. “But you learn from that year, and we came back stronger the next year and won the Super Bowl. I think everything is a matter of perspective. When you play in that game and you play great teams you’re not going to win them all. This is not the Harlem Globetrotters against the Washington Generals. It’s all about tough competition against the best teams. They deserved it that year and now a couple years later we get a chance to play the organization again."
 
Brady was asked about the Philly Special, which gave the Eagles a 22-12 lead before halftime and has become not only the most iconic play in Philadelphia sports history but also one of the two or three most iconic plays in Super Bowl history.
 
“Tough play to stop,” Brady said. “They executed it well. Trick plays, when they run it as well as they did, they always seem to work and they give you a lot of momentum. They’re still talking about that play. That play will go down in history, just like a lot of those big plays in the Super Bowl have. So, good for them.”
 
The Patriots, of course, tried a trick play earlier in the second quarter, but Brady dropped a pass from Danny Amendola that would have given the Patriots a first down deep in Eagles territory.
 
Would the Patriots consider running the Philly Special Sunday against the Eagles at the Linc?
 
Don’t put it past them.
 
Mohamed Sanu has thrown four career touchdown passes, Julian Edelman is 3-for-3 passing in his career for 75 yards and Jakobi Meyers started his career at North Carolina State as a quarterback.
 
“There’s some good passers on our team,” Brady said. “We’ve got a lot of ex-quarterbacks. … They’ve all got good arms. These guys can throw the ball. You never know what we’ve got up our sleeve. Might have to go into our bag of trick plays and see what we come up with.”
 
The Eagles didn’t exactly shut Brady down that night 21 months ago at U.S. Bank Stadium. He threw for 505 yards and three touchdowns. 
 
In his career, Brady is 4-2 against the Eagles with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions, both in the 2015 game in Foxboro that the Eagles won three weeks before Chip Kelly was fired. Malcolm Jenkins got Brady for a 99-yard pick-six in that game, and Byron Maxwell had the Eagles’ other INT.
 
In two games at the Linc, wins in 2003 and 2011, Brady has six TD passes and no INTs.
 
Here’s a look at the highest passer ratings in Lincoln Financial Field history with a minimum of 50 attempts:
 
118.3 … Tom Brady
112.1 … Kirk Cousins
103.5 … Aaron Rodgers
100.0 … Carson Wentz
96.5 … Matt Schaub
96.4 … Cam Newton
96.0 … Jon Kitna
92.2 … Donovan McNabb
92.1 … Tony Romo
91.4 … Carson Palmer
 
The Patriots easily won both of Brady’s games at the Linc  — 31-10 in 2003 and 38-20 in 2011 (despite 400 passing yards from Vince Young).
 
The last time the Eagles beat the Patriots in Philadelphia was 1999. The Patriots’ head coach was Pete Carroll, their quarterback was Drew Bledsoe and the Eagles’ quarterback was Koy Detmer. His backup was Doug Pederson.
 
“Really tough environment,” Brady said of the Linc. “Should be a great Sunday afternoon for football. They’ve definitely got great loud fans. It’s a tough place to play. There’s a lot of loud places. Baltimore was loud, Buffalo’s loud. It gets to the point where you basically can’t hear.”
 
Brady has a 215-61 career record and an NFL-record 531 career touchdowns. 

He’s the greatest of all time, but he’s also dealing with a personal two-game losing streak against the Eagles, and the Eagles and their fans are going to do everything within their power Sunday to get that streak to three in a row.

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