Eagles Wake-Up Call: Defense Turns The Tide

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts
INDIANAPOLIS — It was 3rd-and-9 from the Eagles’ 22 and Andrew Luck was heating up.

The standout QB had never lost consecutive games in his young career and he was fixing to keep that streak alive. A 12-play, 80-yard drive capped by his seven-yard touchdown pass to Ahmad Bradshaw put the Colts up 27-20, and he had the offense in position to stretch the lead to double digits with just over five minutes to play.

And then, a remarkable turn of events.

Brandon Boykin and Malcolm Jenkins had bracket coverage on T.Y. Hilton, who was lined up in the slot. Boykin maintained leverage on the inside, causing Hilton to pivot and break the route back towards the sideline. There was some contact, Hilton fell, and Luck’s pass zipped right into the waiting arms of Jenkins.

“Giving them three right there really puts us at risk. So we’re definitely thinking, ‘Try to make a play.’ That play came and we took advantage of the opportunity,” said Jenkins.

The crowd was expecting a flag and filled the domed Lucas Oil Stadium with boos when it didn’t come. Colts head coach Chuck Pagano wasn’t pleased, either.

“If a guy gets whatever, gets tackled and dragged down, whatever it was, there’s nothing the quarterback or anyone else can do about it,” he said afterwards.

Boykin wore a big smile when he was asked about the sequence. Did he get away with one?

“I don’t think so,” he said. “First of all I was in the five-yard zone, and second he fell, he flopped pretty much. He did that against Cary [Williams earlier] and didn’t get the call. He was looking for the call. But like I said, Malcolm did a great job of capitalizing on it.”

The next thing you know, Darren Sproles is darting down the right sideline for a huge 51-yard pick-up, setting up the game-tying touchdown pass from Nick Foles to Jeremy Maclin.

One more chance for Luck, who already has eight fourth-quarter comebacks and 11 game-winning drives under his belt. The Eagles’ defense — which was on the field for 36 minutes Monday night and spent the first half absorbing body blows from the Colts run game — mustered a three-and-out, leading to Cody Parkey‘s game-winner .

“It’s as hard a working team as I’ve ever been around,” said Chip Kelly. “There was nobody on our team in the fourth quarter that didn’t believe we had an opportunity to win the football game and they were all playing like it. I don’t think anybody on our side was tired. You had guys on the sidelines talking about, ‘Hey this is just like Period 22 in our training sessions.’ You kind of see that they value what we do during the week and I think it shows  off when we’re playing games on Sunday or Monday.”

Period 22?

“Period 22. That’s the toughest period of practice right there,” said Boykin. “That team period right at the end, knowing that you have to go hard. It really does translate to late in games knowing it’s going to be a passing situation and that they’re going to go quick. It’s pretty much practice and that’s why we practice as hard as we do so it will be easy.”

“We practice at such a pace that when we get into these fourth quarters, guys are fresh and still full-speed,” added Jenkins. “This is what we train for, and guys are ready.”

The defense was gashed for 101 yards on the ground in the first half against what is considered a below average Indianapolis rushing attack. But the unit stabilized in the second half, just as it had the week before against Jacksonville. And once again the Eagles walked off the field winners, however improbably.

“The way we’ve done it,” said Billy Davis, “has shown some character that we’ll tap into later in the season when the pressure hits.”


Mychal Kendricks left with a calf injury, but thinks he will be OK.

Check out Sheil’s observations from a wild win in Indy.


Zach Berman on Parkey’s pair of game-winners Monday night.

Parkey made the field goal for the win, although the Eagles’ celebration was halted when the officials awarded the Colts a timeout that they said Indianapolis called right before Parkey’s kick.

So Parkey lined up again. The Colts had no timeouts to stop the second attempt, and the Eagles celebrated a victory that was bolstered by the dynamic ability of Darren Sproles and an opportunistic defense. The Eagles improved to 2-0…

“Our equipment manager . . . said all week, ‘You’re going to hit the game-winner,’ ” Parkey said. “It’s pretty crazy that it happened that way.”

Reuben Frank leads his 10 observations with (who else?) Darren Sproles.

I never imagined Sproles would be this good. Just astonishing. It’s only two games, but he’s been the Eagles’ best player so far. He runs with tremendous strength and balance, which we saw on that crazy third-quarter touchdown run and on that 51-yarder through traffic in the fourth quarter, and he seems to really have a knack for big plays at big moments. And unlike most smaller backs, he’s just tough. We’re looking at a career year from Sproles at 31 years old. For a fifth-round pick? Unreal.


Plenty more from the game. Kelly speaks at 1.