In 'this is it' moment, Eagles' defense holds strong

In 'this is it' moment, Eagles' defense holds strong

Because the previous play was under review, the Eagles were stuck on the field with some time to ponder their own mortality. The defense had to patiently wait for a 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line with 1:05 left in the game.

Stop the Falcons and win.

Don't and lose.

"This is it," Malcolm Jenkins recalled thinking to himself. "This is the season. We're either going home or going forward."

The Eagles are going forward (see Roob's observations).

Matt Ryan's pass on 4th-and-2 went through the hands of Julio Jones on the right side of the end zone. The Eagles finished off a 15-10 win to push them into next week's NFC Championship Game at the Linc (see breakdown).

What were the Eagles thinking as they awaited the crucial play?

"Get off the field," Ronald Darby said. "Get the ball back into our offense's hands, run the clock out and go home."

Before the play even happened, during that long wait for the review, the Eagles' defense stayed on the field and kept themselves in the frame of mind that the ball was going to stay at the 2-yard line. They knew they were going to have to defend the goal line.

As the Falcons got in their huddle, the Eagles were already starting to dissect what they were seeing. Atlanta came out in 21 personnel — two running backs — which seemed to limit their options. The Eagles knew they weren't going to run and they knew with two running backs, the likelihood of a sprint out play rose. They played process of elimination.

While the Falcons were lining up in their formation, Jenkins guessed there were about three different defenders all shouting out what the play was going to be. They recognized it from their film study.

"We're going to play the odds," Jenkins said.

It certainly helped.

On that play, Jenkins said he was busy chasing Mohamed Sanu as Ryan rolled right. Darby was covering Tevin Coleman in the flat. Nigel Bradham had coverage on a tight end, whom he plowed through when he started to block.

But the biggest assignment on that play belonged to Jalen Mills. He was lined up across from Jones, the closest thing the NFL has to a real-life monster. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Jones is arguably the best and scariest receiver in the NFL.

And Mills had him 1-on-1 with the game and the season on the line.

"That's what you want," Mills said. "As a defender, you always dream of being in that situation, coming down to the fourth down and making that fourth down stop with whoever it was."

Mills said when he lined up across from Jones, he knew he needed to be ready. He knew the Falcons were going to go to their best player with their own season on the line. He was ready.

As Ryan was rolling to his right and trying to buy time, Mills jammed Jones so hard the All-Pro receiver fell to the ground in the end zone and Mills gave him one last shot before Jones sprung back to his feet.

Mills, who got super physical on the play, said he wasn't worried at all about drawing a flag on the play.

"It's playoff ball," Mills said. "This is big-boy ball. If it was coming down to a call like that … I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about making a play. He's a big guy, he's a physical guy. If you go out there and play timid, he's going to push you around."

Mills had tight coverage on Jones as the ball sailed through the receiver's hands. Even if he caught it, Jones' feet came down out of bounds.

As the pass fell incomplete and the game — for all intents and purposes — came to a close, Darby was so busy covering Coleman, he didn't know until he heard the roar of the crowd. He turned in time to see Mills stretch out his arms and fly away in celebration.

Bradham turned just in time to see Mills lock down Jones. He said he knew the game was over and just "started flexing."

Jenkins, who seconds before had time to think about the finality of the play, turned his head just in time to see the Falcons' season end and his own continue.

"I saw it was overthrown," Jenkins said before breaking into a grin. "And then I took a little lap."

Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Derek Barnett and Nelson Agholor will likely be game-time decisions for Monday Night Football, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said on Saturday morning. 

Barnett (ankle) and Agholor (knee) both missed all three days of practice this week. 

Meanwhile, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He was just placed in protocol on Thursday, so he’s going to miss the Giants game. 

And Jordan Howard (shoulder) has still not been cleared for contact; he can’t play until he is and that’s not happening before Monday. So he’s going to miss his fourth straight game. 

Lane Johnson also missed practice on Friday and Saturday for a non-injury reason but is expected to play on Monday. 

If Agholor is unable to play, the Eagles would be left with just three healthy receivers on the roster: Alshon Jeffery, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward. 

“We’re very comfortable, obviously, with the guys we have,” Pederson said. “So if it’s three, it’s three. We brought up [Josh Perkins] a week ago to help us there, so it’s an addition there. We go and we go play. We’ll discuss those over the next couple of days leading up to the game. If we have to make a decision we will. We feel good with the guys we have in that receiver role.” 

If the Eagles do decide to make a roster move, they have three wide receivers on their practice squad: Robert Davis, Marcus Green and Marken Michel. 

While Agholor had his knee injury before last week’s game, Barnett got hurt during the loss in Miami, but was still able to play through the injury and play 50 snaps. Barnett has played the third-most defensive snaps on the team this year, so losing him for this game wouldn’t be insignificant. 

If Barnett can’t play, expect Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry to get more reps. After that, Genard Avery, Daeshon Hall and even Shareef Miller could see a few snaps. 

For the Giants: 

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Eagles vs. Giants 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

Eagles vs. Giants 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

The Eagles (5-7) are hosting the New York Giants (2-10) at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night. 

Here’s everything you need to know: 

• 6:30 p.m.: Eagles Pregame Live on NBCSP 
• 8:15 p.m.: Eagles vs. Giants on ESPN 
• 11:30 p.m.: Eagles Postgame Live on NBCSP 
• 1 a.m.: Birds Outsiders on NBCSP 

The ESPN broadcast crew for this game is Joe Tessitore (play by play), Booger McFarland (analyst) and Lisa Salters (sideline). 

Merrill Reese, Mike Quick and Howard Eskin will have the call on 94WIP. 

The Eagles opened as 8.5-9.5 favorites over the Giants. They were 7.5-point favorites on the road last week against the Dolphins and lost. 

The referee for Eagles-Giants is Scott Novak. For the second straight week, the Eagles have pulled a first-year ref. Novak had been a side or field judge since 2014. He was the ref for the Eagles’ loss to the Vikings in Minnesota earlier this season. In that game, the Vikings were penalized four times for 30 yards, while the Eagles were penalized seven times for 49 yards. 

So you're telling me there's a chance 

No one wants to win the NFC East. With a win on Monday night, the Eagles can tie the Cowboys (6-7) for a lead in the division. According to FiveThirtyEight, if the Eagles beat the Giants, their chances to win the division would be at 47 percent. In any other season, they’d be completely out of contention but the NFC East is awful this year and it’s still wide open. 

Hello, old friend 

Rookie Daniel Jones has a high ankle sprain, so it looks like Eli Manning is going to start this game for the Giants. It’ll be his first start since he was benched early this season. The Giants’ offense will obviously change with Manning under center. We know he isn’t going to run or hold onto the ball. He’s going to get it out quickly. 

By the way, Manning’s career record right now is 116-116. 

Recent domination 

The Eagles haven’t lost to the Giants since Week 9 of the 2016 season, which means they’ve won five straight against the G-men. The Eagles are 9-1 in their last 10 games against the Giants and are 16-4 in their last 20 against them. This has been a very lopsided rivalry for a decade. 

But it is worth noting that four of those last five wins against the Giants have come by one score. Just one was a blowout. 

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