Carson Wentz made his long-awaited return Sunday, but even with him back, not much changed with the Eagles' offense in Sunday's 20-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Wentz completed 25 of 37 passes and the Eagles rushed for a season-high 152 yards. But for the third straight week, points were hard to come by.
The one thing that did change, however, was the play of the Eagles' defense. And it's a good thing it did, or the defending Super Bowl champions would be 1-2 instead of 2-1.
After getting roughed up in Tampa last week by Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs' receiving corps, Jim Schwartz's unit bounced back with an impressive performance against Andrew Luck and the Colts.
Keeping the Colts' receivers in front of them and limiting their yards after the catch with sure tackling, they held Luck to a puny 4.1 yards per attempt. Just two of his 25 completions were longer than 12 yards.
Even more impressive was the job the Eagles' defense did in the red zone, which was where this game was won.
The Colts had five red-zone opportunities Sunday, including two that came off Wentz turnovers. But they managed to reach the end zone only once, having to settle for three Adam Vinatieri field goals.
On the Colts' fifth and final red-zone challenge late in the fourth quarter, Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett got around left tackle Le'Raven Clark and sacked Luck on a fourth-and-3 from the 4-yard line to help preserve the Eagles' four-point win.
In their 18-12 Week 1 win over the Falcons, the Eagles also gave up just one touchdown in five red-zone challenges.
"That's something we hang our hats on," safety Malcolm Jenkins said of the defense's red-zone play. "It's something we put a lot of emphasis on, for good reason.
"It's a very simple scheme that we play fast and everybody knows their spots.''
The Colts' average drive start Sunday was their 36.1-yard line. Jake Elliott's missed 55-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter gave them the ball at their own 45. They turned that into a game-tying touchdown when wide receiver Ryan Grant caught a 5-yard pass over cornerback Ronald Darby to tie the game.
But that would be the last time the Colts would reach the end zone. They got the ball at the Philadelphia 17 in the third quarter after a Wentz pass for tight end Zach Ertz was intercepted by Anthony Walker.
But cornerback Jalen Mills, who had a rough game against the Bucs, broke up a third-and-6 pass for tight end Eric Ebron to force the second of Adam Vinatieri's three field goals.
The Colts converted just two of 12 third-down opportunities. Luck was 4-for-11 for 10 yards and just one passing first down on third down.
Mills, who got called for 18- and 33-yard pass-interference penalties, said he didn't pay any attention to the criticism he or the rest of the defense received for their poor play in Tampa.
"We don't really feed into that," he said. "At the end of the day, we know who we are. We know our identity.
"We're an attack defense. We got dogs. That's what we got to be."
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The Colts were handed another golden scoring opportunity late in the third quarter when defensive end Margus Hunt knocked the ball out of Wentz's hand and recovered it at the Philadelphia 13-yard line.
But the defense again kept them out of the end zone. Mills and nickel corner Sidney Jones thwarted a wide-receiver screen to Zach Pascal on second down. On third down, linebacker Nigel Bradham made a great stop on running back Jordan Wilkins after he caught a pass in the right flat from Luck.
"They bow their neck when they have to,'' coach Doug Pederson said of the defense's impressive red-zone play.
"I think we're more comfortable in the red zone than anywhere else [on the field], to be honest,'' safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "I think you get what you work on.
"We spend a lot of time on tasks when it comes to our red-zone defense and coverages and communications and matchups. When we do get to the red zone, everybody is completely comfortable. It's not like a panic situation.
"We always feel like even if a big play happens, as long as it doesn't go for a touchdown, we're fine. We know that if we can keep teams out of the end zone, really, what happens between the 10-yard lines is irrelevant.''
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It is a resilient defense that can occasionally get knocked down but manages to get back up and make a big play.
Mills was flagged for those two pass-interference penalties, but more than made up for them with several nice pass breakups and big tackles on plays underneath.
Darby gave up the early touchdown to Grant, but denied a third-and-3 pass in the end zone to T.Y. Hilton right before Barnett's big fourth-down sack.
"That's how football is,'' Darby said after the game. "They get paid, too. Every game isn't going to be your best game. My main thing is, make the important stops, make plays and create turnovers.''
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The defense had to play most of the second half without safety Rodney McLeod, who injured a knee trying to make a tackle. The injury doesn't appear to be serious, but he didn't return. Veteran Corey Graham replaced him and the defense didn't miss a beat.
"It's just us being together,'' defensive end Brandon Graham said. "We don't point fingers or panic when something happens. Everybody just says, 'Hey, calm down. We're in the red zone. Let's buckle down and not let them score.'
"We have people on this defense who believe that. We win our one-on-one matchups and go back to the film study and trust their eyes and trust what they show.''
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