Eagles Defense Steps Up in Win Over Saints
Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat had two sacks, two quarterback hits, and a tackle for loss in Sunday’s 24-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
But it was something Sweat saw in the the week leading up to the matchup that paid major dividends in the Week 14 win.
“Some of the plays we noticed that he was holding the ball," Sweat said. "We figured it would be a lot of boot and stuff like that, so we would have opportunities. I'll be honest, when he did that sprint out, I was like, 'Damn, I might not make it [laughter]'. Something just made me keep running and he held on to the ball and I pretty much saw an opportunity to strip the ball out. I thought I was going to get the recovery but good thing my boy was there.”
The Eagles defense was the catalyst to the team’s success in Jalen Hurts debut as an NFL starter. The defense led the game off with a three-and-out and battled its way through multiple injuries throughout the game.
The Saints offense struggled for most of the day against an Eagles defense that finished with 5.0 sacks and a forced fumble. Sweat and Javon Hargrave each had a pair of sacks and Fletcher Cox added one.
“We put it on ourselves anyways," Sweat added. "Before every game, throughout the week we always say to ourselves we're going to be the engine. Everybody going to feed off of us. It never changes, we always come into the game knowing if we do well, we will always have a shot in any game no matter what, that's the approach we take.”
The teams defense continued to do its part, coming through on another big play. Midway through the second quarter with the Saints driving and trying to set up a screen, the Eagles got goof pressure on Taysom Hill, forcing a quick throw. The pass came out quick and slipped through Alvin Kamara's fingers and went right into Duke Riley's hands, setting up an Eagles field goal.
"I don’t know how it happened I just know I was in the right spot at the right time," Riley said. "I just looked up and I saw tipped ball and I just caught it."
Like the Eagles offense, the defense has taken its fair share of heat this season. But against the NFC No. 1 seed, they held their own, even when multiple players went down with injuries in the game.
That unit lost Avonte Maddox, Darius Slay, safety Rodney McLeod and a few other players on the defensive line had to leave due to injury. However, with their backs to the wall, and the Saints putting on the pressure - the Eagles defense stood their ground, getting a huge strip-sack when they needed a big-play.
On a fourth-and-two with just under 10-minutes remaining and the Saints having all the momentum, taking advantage of the Eagles banged up secondary, it was Sweat who came up big. coming off the right end, hitting Hill from the weak-side and forcing the fumble.
The play gave the Eagles the ball back, and the Eagles punched it in for another score.
"Defense I thought played outstanding with the two takeaways," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson explained. "Josh Sweat, Hargrave, guys are battling their tails off. My hat's off to really every member of this team."
While Hurts will get the headlines for the win, the Eagles defense played its part and beat the No. 1 defense in the NFL and top seed in the NFC.
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