The Eagles are headed to the NFC Championship game after a rollercoaster win over Atlanta. Their defensive line played a huge part in that victory, but the impact goes far beyond the stat sheet.
Of course, this should come as no surprise. After all the Eagles did end the season with the league’s top rushing defense and over 85% of their sacks came from the front four. Little did we know, the best was yet to come.
“As you know, we went in with three tackles, and we knew these guys were going to have to play a lot.” Doug Pederson said on Monday. “Fletcher was going to be one of those guys, and he’s definitely an anchor with that D-line. He was a man on a mission and just took a lot of it upon himself and got the rest of the D-line going a little bit. But [he was] very disruptive around the quarterback, hitting [Falcons QB] Matt [Ryan] a little bit, a couple tackles for losses in there. And just this time of year, man, it’s just guys understand that it’s win and keep going or you don’t, and your season is over. He’s a guy that we lean on a lot defensively from a leadership role, and he stood out nice.”
The win over Atlanta may well have been the finest performance from Fletcher Cox we have ever seen. With 2 QB hits, 7 tackles and a sack to his name, the franchise defensive tackle was a force to be reckoned with in every aspect of the game. But that same level of production ran across the board. Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Timmy Jernigan were all vital cogs in the Eagles run-stopping machine.
“We’re taking it one week at a time.” Defensive end Chris Long said in the locker room after the game. “We’re going to have a tough opponent no matter who comes in here next week but that should be our standard of keeping the points down that way. That was a really good defensive performance for us and a team effort as well. You talk about time of possession, our offense was great with running the ball and grinding it out. That was a team win.”
The Eagles may have proved that they have the best and most well-oiled defensive line in Football on Saturday. The legs never stopped churning, the effort never lacked and the production was simply a by-product of every single player working tirelessly toward the same goal. With rotations keeping the powerhouses fresh, the Eagles may have found the winning formula to decimate the trenches.