With just under five minutes left in Thursday’s game against the Giants, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz huddled up with his defense with the team trailing by five points.
The Eagles had just scored by way of a Carson Wentz pass to Greg Ward, but Schwartz’s group would need to step up one final time to give the Birds a chance to finish the comeback effort. Schwartz told his players to get the now-surging offense the ball back, and that’s exactly what they did.
After consecutive games featuring concerning play, the Eagles defense came up big in the team’s 22-21 win over the New York Giants Thursday night. Wentz’s go-ahead touchdown pass to Boston Scott was made possible by the defensive outing that featured three forced turnovers, three sacks, and only 165 passing yards allowed.
“We all huddled up, and Schwartz kind of talked to us,” Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills said. “[It was] basically like, ‘It’s going to come down to us getting one more stop. If we have to, getting two more stops.' Getting the offense the ball because they were starting to click. That’s what happened, and the result is now we’re No. 1 in the NFC East.”
Mills got the Eagles' first turnover of the game in the second quarter, diving for an interception on a pass intended for Giants tight end Evan Engram, who tipped the ball into the air for Mills to make the play.
“We were in kind of a bluff coverage,” Mills said. “I was looking at the quarterback. I saw he gave Engram some type of hand signal and knew that, of course, he was checking to him. I just got a really good drop in coverage. He dropped the ball, and I just ran at the ball and made the interception.”
The turnovers kept coming, though. Josh Sweat forced a fumble recovered by Rodney McLeod two series after Mills' pick, and Brandon Graham sealed the game with a strip sack of quarterback Daniel Jones with 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles defense struggled against the run, surrendering 160 rushing yards largely thanks to Jones' 80-yard dash that ended in him tackling himself. It’s also worth noting Engram’s costly third-down drop after beating Will Parks cost the Giants a pivotal first down just before the two-minute warning.
Still, the Giants managed only three third-down conversions on 10 tries, and Jones was pressured eight times on 30 dropbacks.
The Eagles offense started the game well, scoring on the opening drive and hitting a field goal on its third drive. But red-zone issues and a missed field goal plagued the Eagles as they went seven consecutive drives without scoring.
Graham said the defense didn’t feel any pressure to step up while the offense was going through its drought.
“The way we talk about it is, ‘Let’s go put the offense in a better position,' ” Graham said. “They didn’t get it done, but we’re going to go get it done, and the ball’s coming right back. That’s kind of the message every time things happen, sudden changes happen in a game where we didn’t pick up a fourth down or Jake [Elliott] missed a kick. We just had to make sure that we put ourselves in a position for the offense to win.”