Brandon Graham signed a 3-year extension for $40 million this spring, but the 31-year-old lifelong Eagle had zero sacks after four games. The old man earned his money Sunday. Graham logged a career-high three sacks and had six tackles. The Birds, now 3-2, allowed just 128 yards and finished with 10 sacks, which tied the second-highest total in team history (vs. Lions, Sept. 23, 2007), but it was Graham’s day from the start. On the first two plays he stopped star running back LeVeon Bell for 1 yard and zero yards, then sacked Luke Falk on the third play. Graham entered Game Five somehow rated eighth among all NFL edge defenders by profootballfocus.com. He’ll be higher tomorrow. It was his sixth game with at least two sacks but his first such game in almost 6 years (Dec. 13, 2013 vs. the Bengals).
Take it away
Third-year linebacker Nathan Gerry, who has started just three of his 28 games, notched the third interception of his career. It was an athletic, leaping grab, which he returned 51 yards for his first NFL touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 5 minutes, 4 seconds to play in the first quarter. Gerry played both linebacker and safety at Nebraska, where he intercepted 13 passes. Rodney McLeod snared his first interception of the season with 2:02 left in the second quarter, which led to an 11-yard TD pass to Zach Ertz with 34 seconds left and a 21-0 halftime lead. Blitzing cornerback Orlando Scandrick, a Cowboy for nine seasons, strip-sacked Falk -- took the ball right out of his hands -- and returned it 44 yards for a clinching touchdown that put the Eagles ahead 31-6. It the first multiple-sack game of Scandrick’s 11-year career.
Take Alabama and the points
In their second game without Sam Darnold, who has spleen-swelling mononucleosis, the Jets confirmed their status as the NFL’s worst current team and one of the worst non-expansion teams in history. Among their misadventures: Early in the second quarter, Adam Gase made the specious decision to try a field goal on fourth-and-3 at the Eagles’ 37 into a strong headwind. Gase then elected to call timeout, even though the Eagles had too few men on the field, effectively icing his own kicker, Sam Ficken, whose 55-yard try had no chance. They committed two delay-of-game penalties. They were flagged for two illegal blocks, on the same play, but the penalties were declined, since the play netted minus-4 yards. In his second career start, second-year backup Luke Falk was 15-for-26 for 120 yards and two interceptions.
Trying to extend plays and avert sacks, Eagles quarterback Wentz continued to put himself in peril. He twisted his left knee and ankle with 44 seconds to play in the first quarter, as he threw the ball away. Wentz then had his right leg pinned under him when 310-pound defensive tackle Steve McLendon sacked him with 9:09 to play in the second quarter. Both times Wentz needed a few seconds to walk off the hits. Of course, asking Wentz to play less aggressively diminishes his effect. He ducked the sack swipe of Quinnen Williams and completed a pass to Zach Ertz. Wentz finished 17-for-29, threw for 189 yards and one touchdown. He had no interceptions, which gives him 10 touchdown passes and just two interceptions this season.