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Eagles’ Avonte Maddox, Darius Slay connect for ‘Detroit on Detroit’ touchdown recovery

The Detroit native forced his second turnover in as many weeks and then tossed the ball to his dad in celebration.

Eagles middle linebacker T.J. Edwards stops Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift with Eagles free safety Avonte Maddox during the second quarter.
Eagles middle linebacker T.J. Edwards stops Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift with Eagles free safety Avonte Maddox during the second quarter.Read moreMONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer

DETROIT — A few seconds after Avonte Maddox forced a fumble by D’Andre Swift in the Eagles’ win against the Detroit Lions, he had to ask Darius Slay for a favor.

Maddox, a Detroit native playing against the team he rooted for growing up, wanted the ball Slay recovered for a touchdown. Slay obliged, and Maddox promptly found his father a few rows up in the south-facing end zone and tossed him the ball.

With family, friends, and high school teammates in the stands, Maddox said the chance to celebrate his big play with his father was a special moment during the Eagles’ 44-6 win.

“He doesn’t really get to come to the away games because he works,” Maddox said. “It was pretty cool to give him a ball back at home. It was the first game he came to this year and I made a turnover and Slay was kind enough to give me the ball.”

Maddox, who has a Lions logo tattooed on his biceps, first connected with Slay shortly after the veteran cornerback was drafted in the second round by Detroit in 2013. Maddox was a defensive back at the University of Pittsburgh at the time and said he admired Slay from afar.

It was somewhat fitting for Maddox and Slay, both having strong connections with the Lions, to connect on one of the biggest plays of the game for the defense.

“That was Detroit on Detroit right there,” Maddox said. “It was pretty cool. I punched out the ball, and I’m looking for the ball. I just see [Slay] running down to the end zone. I was pretty hyped off that.”

Slay didn’t speak after the game, but thanked Detroit fans via social media, noting that it was an emotional day for him.

Maddox is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and has quietly put together a solid season. He has forced turnovers in back-to-back weeks, intercepting Raiders quarterback Derek Carr last Sunday and making a nice play on the ball against the Lions on Sunday.

According to Pro Football Focus, quarterbacks have a 74.4 rating when targeting Maddox in the slot this season, which ranks eighth in the league.

Eagles running back Miles Sanders, watching the game from home after being placed on injured reserve, said Maddox forced a fumble on him in practice earlier this season, indicative of things to come.

“Since camp started, I’ve been working on punching the ball out a lot since JG has made such a big emphasis on it,” Maddox said of defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. “Running up to the guy, I’m like, ‘I’m about to punch this out.’ A lot of guys think it’s on contact, that’s when you cover [the ball] up, but I was going to punch out with no contact. I wasn’t even going for the tackle, I was going for the punch-out.”

» READ MORE: For Eagles’ Avonte Maddox, a Detroit homecoming awaits

Reagor, Driscoll hurt

The Eagles had to dip into their reserves at wide receiver and along the offensive line during the game.

After a few productive plays on jet sweeps and end-arounds, Jalen Reagor left in the first half with an ankle injury and was later ruled out. He was carted off the sideline to the locker room after appearing to twist his ankle while slipping near the goal line. JJ Arcega-Whiteside also left the game with an ankle injury.

Guard Jack Driscoll hurt his hand in the first half and didn’t return. He came off the field holding it gingerly and was replaced by Nate Herbig.

Even with Herbig filling in, the Eagles ran the ball consistently well throughout the game, rushing for 236 yards on 46 attempts.

“Nate’s a hell of a player,” Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said. “He came in last year and played his tail off and held his own. He was really one of the top guards at his position.”