If you wanted tag the Philadelphia Eagles 35-10 win over the Tennessee Titans with a nickname, you could call it the Redemption Bowl.
Last week against the Green Bay Packers, the Eagles kick coverage was awful, wide receiver A.J. Brown lost a fumble that was returned 63 yards and eventually converted to a touchdown.
Kick returner Britain Covey seemed to have nine toes out the door over his less-than-impressive production so far this season.
Eagles’ coaches looked like they were leaning more and more to Boston Scott to return kicks.
There also seemed to be no real answer as to why the Birds struggled so much against the run.
Not many of these questions were getting answered until the second quarter which started with the score 7-7.
The Eagles jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their first drive. The Birds drove seven plays ending with a 34–yard, Hurts-to-DeVonta Smith touchdown pass.
The Titans first drive went nowhere as the Eagles defense forced a three-and-out.
On the Titans second possession, Tennessee took advantage of a Josh Sweat five-yard penalty on third-and-four that gave Titans a first down on what would have been an incomplete pass.
With new life Tannehill ran for a 17-yard gain and a first down, then an eight-yard gain for another first down that set up the quarterback’s 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Treylon Burks.
The rookie out of Arkansas was injured on the play. Marcus Epps’ tackle drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Burks was unable to return.
From that point though, it was all Eagles.
The Birds (11-1) outscored the Titans (7-5) 28-3 over the next three quarters.
Rookie safety Reed Blankenship, who has been in the lineup since the injury to C.J. Gardner-Johnson suffered a lacerated kidney against the Packers last week, admitted the players on special teams came into the game on a mission.
“You have a chip on your shoulder, especially special teams,” said Blankenship, who finished with three tackles (all solo) and a defended pass. “We’ve been targeted. We let three kicks (returns) go by last week. We came back, we had a lot of confidence. We have a lot of leaders, like Shaun Bradley, K’Von Wallace…they run the special teams. They weren’t going to let what happened last week happen again. So, kudos to them, they’re the leaders on the special teams.”
Blankenship said the Eagles defense came into the game with a mindset to not let the Titans All Pro running back dominate the game.
“With a back like Henry, guys tend to get a little skittish, a little scared,” said Blankenship. “You’ve just for to deliver your physicality to him, you’ve got to let him know that we’re not a team to play with. We’ve just got to be the more physical team.”
Blankenship had an impact on the Packers game as soon as he got on the field to play safety.
He intercepted an Aaron Rodgers pass in the second half that killed a Green Bay drive that could have changed the outcome.
The rookie free agent out of Middle Tennessee State said he wanted to make sure his teammates, coaches and fans knew he performance was not a flash in the pan, that he can play and play well at this level.
To do that he had to keep the mindset that he belonged.
“In the back of my head you always have that as an athlete,” Blankenship said. “How can I either equal that or go beyond that. But (in the end), I just want to play football. It’s just another game. You can’t go out there and put a lot of pressure on yourself. Just have fun and be a kid.”
The Eagles front seven, and their backups, dominated the Titans offensive line for most of the day.
Tennessee rushed for a total of 87 yards as a team on 21 carries. The 4.1 yards per carry looked respectable because quarterback Tannehill long scramble runs on their first drive.
Henry ended up with just 30 yards on 11 carries.
Tannehill was sacked six times for 35 yards in losses. The 2019 Pro Bowler finished 14 of 22 for 141 yards and the TD pass.
“They got a great front seven,” guard Aaron Brewer said after the game. “Today, they got the best of us.”
Eleven-year veteran center Ben Jones said, when the Eagles stopped Henry, their offense simply failed to adjust to a different attack.
“It wasn’t anything they did, we just have to be better,” Jones said at his locker after the game. “We’ve got to clean stuff up. We can’t get behind in the sticks…penalties killed us in the second half. It was one after another.
“We would run a few plays, have some efficient runs,” Jones continued. “We know it’s not going to be pretty early on…twos and threes…but we can’t have zero yard runs, we can’t have negative plays with penalties…it puts us in a bind and takes us out of our offense. We just have to be better on first and second downs.”
EAGLES DOMINATED WITH A STUNNING VERTICAL ATTACK
The Eagles offense was again led by Hurts. Last week, he led with his legs. This week, he dominated the Titans with is arm and talented corps of weapons to throw to.
The 24-year-old signal caller, who was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after his game against the Packers, will be up for the award again after going 29 of 39 for 380 yards, three touchdown passes, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 130.3.
Hurts was sacked twice for five yards.
Hurts also scored on a two-yard run with 51 seconds left in the first half that put the Birds up 21-10.
Nine Eagles caught passes from Hurts.
It must be noted before we continue that rookie punt returner Britain Covey, a free agent signee out of Utah, had a lot to do with the Eagles successful drives coming up with 105 yards on the six punts he returned including a 27-yard return. It was easily his best game as an Eagle.
A.J. Brown, playing against his former team for the first time, hauled in eight passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns, the second, in the third quarter, was a 29-yard pass from Hurts that only one or two receivers in the world could have made.
Rookie corner Tre Avery was all over Brown and it didn’t matter. Hurts stuck it in an impossible spot that only Brown could see.
Hurts bristled when asked what he saw just as let the ball loose for the end zone.
“I gave him a chance to make a play,: Hurts said, then laughingly said. “I tried to tell him, they don’t listen sometimes, that be ready the ball could come your way. He made a play on the ball, that’s a big boy catch, that’s a grown man’s catch.”
Brown was asked to describe the play.
“[Avery] is not looking at me, and I’m looking at the ball, Brown said. “I think me having a darker visor kind of helps out a lot. I see him and I see the ball, so he doesn’t know where the ball is.
“I just try to stay calm as long as possible. To be honest, I was really trying to clear it out for DeVonta.
“It was kind of a Cover-2 beater or something like that. If the corner squats, Jalen will throw the go ball, but he didn’t squat, so I looked like I was just running off. And then I looked up and peaked at the ball, and it was in the air.
“I was like, ‘I’ve got to try and stay calm.’ And it was already close, so I was just trying to create some room even if I had to push him off or do whatever I had to do to make the catch.”
Smith finished with five catches for 102 yards and a score.
Quez Watkins came up with five catches for 37 yards and tight end Jack Stoll, who is playing for injured starter Dallas Goedert, caught three passes for 41 yards.
The Eagles rushing game was not a factor. The Titans are outstanding against the run.
The Birds rushed 24 times for 67 yards. Miles Sanders carried the ball 10 times for just 24 yards, but scored a three-yard touchdown with 11:27 left in the fourth quarter to make the score 35-10 and effectively end the game.
Gardner Minshew was under center for the final ten minutes of the game.
THE EAGLES WERE A SACK MACHINE
Linebacker T.J. Edwards once again led the Eagles with six total tackles (four solo) and a defended pass.
Josh Sweat made up for his first-quarter penalty coming up with four tackles and two sacks. Sweat also recorded a tackle for loss and three quarterback hits.
Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox, Haason Reddick an Brandon Graham all also came up with sacks. Reddick was in Tannehill’s face all afternoon recording four quarterback hits.
Edwards was asked how the Eagles were able to limit Henry to 30 rushing yards.
“I think it honestly came down to winning our one-on-one matchups today,” Edwards said. “I think obviously, they had a good idea of what we were going to do, and we had a good idea of what they were going to do.
“It was all about winning your one-on-ones, winning your area, defeating blocks. Honestly, I thought our d-line just ruined that game. I thought they were dominant, all across the board. They’re stopping the run, and in the drop-back pass game they were getting to the quarterback as well, so I thought the front had a really good game.”
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