The Eagles took care of business against a struggling New York Jets team on Sunday in a dominant 31-6 victory. The scoreline looks skewed and that’s because it is, but it was thanks in large part to a tenacious defensive effort that was spearheaded by Brandon Graham.
The first three plays of the game really set the tone. Graham swallowed up LeVeon Bell on back-to-back rushing plays before coming up with a sack one play later. That would be the first of three that day, a new career-high for the man who has donned the midnight green jersey since 2010.
“This is my first time with three sacks in a game.” Graham explained in the locker room. “We started fast, and that’s what you dream of. We went out there and played together. I know when I look at the film, [Eagles DT Fletcher Cox] got me one. I owe him on that one.”
The Eagles came into this game with a pitiful three sacks in four games. They walked out of Lincoln Financial Field with thirteen. Whether that’s inflated by an atrocious Jets offense or not, the Eagles needed that boost.
“It felt good.” Graham told reporters after the game. “Honestly, I’m just happy we all went out there and had one of those games we’ve been dreaming about as a defensive line. We’re coming together at the right time, especially after all of the emotional games we have played. We need one like this.”
A showdown with the Minnesota Vikings lies just ahead and after that, the road only darkens. Games against the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys could carry a lot of playoff weight and the Birds’ will look to their pass-rush to again set the tone.
After Graham registered a 9.5 sack campaign in 2017, many assumed the Eagles would strike while the iron was hot, however, no extension was agreed upon. Graham played out his contract year, playing in all 16 games for the sixth year out of his last 7, tallying 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 39 tackles.
After a playoff loss to New Orleans, Graham hugged every media member he could find. He wasn’t sure if his tenure in Philadelphia would be over or if the team would finally give him a new contract. A few months later and he’s one of the most impactful players on the entire team, again.
Graham entered this week ranking third in QB pressures with 20. He comes out of it with a bucketload to add to his tally. His performance yesterday is even more staggering when you consider the circumstances.
If that’s not a testament to Graham’s heart and character, I don’t know what is. The Eagles pass-rush pounced on a beaten Jets offense and took full advantage. They may not record ten sacks in a single game this season, but after weeks of being so close yet so far, being able to finally shed that weight is huge ahead of a clash with the Vikings. A team that surrendered a further 2 QB hits and TFL’s when facing Brandon Graham last year.
The former Wolverine has been playing some of the best football we have seen in his nine-year career and this weekend saw him finally put the Icing on the cake. With confidence now high ahead of a crucial conference clash, Graham’s historic game could not have come at a better time for the Eagles.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports