Eagles Insider

Why is Brandon Graham so clutch at the end of games?

Eagles Insider

There was less time left this time, and it was Daniel Jones instead of Tom Brady, and it was a battle of one-win teams instead of a Super Bowl.

Still, it was impossible not to notice the similarities.

The final minutes of a game where the Eagles had just taken the lead, the defense was struggling and desperately needed a play, and Brandon Graham strip-sacked the quarterback.

On Sunday, just like in Super Bowl LII, Graham didn't have a sack for the first 57½ minutes. But it doesn't matter how many times Graham is denied, he keeps bringing it, and that's been the story of his late-career resurgence.

There was just a little bit less at stake this time, but Graham's strip-sack of the Giants' QB with 29 seconds left clinched the Eagles second win of the season, a 22-21 comeback after they trailed by 11 with 4½ minutes left.

"We just keep on fighting," Graham said. "We don't worry about the past. We try to (believe), 'It is what it is, now what are we going to do?' So I think people are taking on that approach and I'm loving it because we fight to the end. And I'm telling you, some of this stuff that's happening to us right now, it's going to start changing, because I really do feel like our team is getting stronger every week, and every week that confidence is growing. We finally pulled one out at the end."

On a defense that's been largely terrible this year, Graham has been amazing.

 

His six sacks leave him just 3½ shy of his career-high from 2017 and at least for the time being put him third in the NFL, behind only Aaron Donald (7½) and Myles Garrett (7.0).

It's also the most by any Eagle after seven games since Jason Babin had 9.0 seven games into the 2011 Dream Team disaster.

"That's one of the reasons that B.G. is a captain on this team, a leader on this team," Jalen Mills said. "Because he's a guy who just goes out there and does his job. He's not a guy who's trying to force plays, he lets the plays come to him. For some reason, he's always the guy who comes up clutch in the fourth quarter for us."

Graham's story has been told many times, but there's just something special about a guy who takes so much grief early in his career and turns into an all-time Eagle later in his career.

On Thursday night, when the Giants got the ball back after Carson Wentz's second TD pass of the final five minutes, there were only 40 seconds left.

But after watching this Eagles defense this year? There was hardly a sense that the game was over. The Giants only needed a field goal to win, and the Eagles have been a bad defensive team all year. 

B.G. to the rescue.

Graham said it was a conversation with an Eagles offensive lineman that inspired his latest game-clinching play.

"You know what? Jordan Mailata ... had said something to me that sparked me," B.G. said. "He said, 'Act like Emerson is watching.' My baby girl. She would be excited for me. 'And give her something to be proud of.' So it was just cool that I made that play, but he said that to me before I went out there."

Graham never played with Brian Dawkins — they missed each other by two years — but he credited the Hall of Fame safety for the strip-sack.

"Thank you, B-Dawk," he said. "Because B-Dawk definitely went for the ball. Thinking about you. And instead of going just for the sack, went for the ball and we changed the whole game."

Graham now has 12 career sacks in the final 4½ minutes of a game, which is eye-opening, and the Eagles are 8-2-1 in those games (two were in one game).

According to Pro Football Reference's Stathead database, his 6½ sacks in the last 4½ minutes of games since 2016 are 4th-most in the league (behind Von Miller, Frank Clark and Danielle Hunter).

Dude is clutch. 

And at 32 years old and in Year 11, better than he's ever been.

"I think just really taking on my nutrition this year more serious than I ever have," he said. "Feeling good. Body is feeling really good right now. I feel fast. Then with our rotation, that is helping a lot. I don't feel like I am taking on a lot of beating from these games (and) in that fourth quarter when you need a play, I feel like I felt in the first quarter. So I felt hungry and ready to go make a play. And I'm thankful that they, in the back end, took away his reads and I was able to get there."