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Back-To-Basics Approach Works For 'D'

Posted Nov 23, 2014

Every year, it seems like the promotion of the holiday season begins just a little bit earlier. After last week's loss in Green Bay, linebacker Connor Barwin described himself as a kid and this Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans as Christmas.

Well, Barwin certainly enjoyed the gifts under the tree. Barwin and fellow linebacker Trent Cole each had two of the team's five sacks and the defense forced three turnovers in the 43-24 win over Tennessee.

"We just felt like our four could get after their front five," said Barwin, who is second in the league with a career-high 12.5 sacks this season. "We did a great job communicating up front, running our games together and then just won our one-on-ones across the board."

Since the Eagles were able to win those one-on-one matchups up front, defensive coordinator Bill Davis didn't have to send a lot of exotic blitzes at rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

“I barely pressured. It was all four-man rush and the ball wasn’t coming out as quick," Davis said. "Their patterns were more vertically oriented, so it took more time to get going, whereas a week ago they were just the go routes. These were concept-vertical routes and our four-man rush did a nice job."

Last week, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers effortlessly threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns. The Packers did not turn the ball over, snapping the Eagles' streak of 22 consecutive games of forcing at least one turnover. On Sunday, the defense forced the Titans to go three-and-out on their first four possessions as the Eagles raced out to a 17-0 lead. After taking a 27-17 lead into halftime, the Eagles forced the first of two fumbles on the opening drive of the second half. Defensive end Fletcher Cox knocked a Mettenberger pass into the air that was caught by center Brian Schwenke. As Schwenke was being tackled, linebacker Mychal Kendricks knocked the ball loose and it was recovered by safety Nate Allen.

Three plays later, quarterback Mark Sanchez found tight end James Casey for a 14-yard touchdown and the Eagles were ahead 34-17.

“We understood after the performance that we had in Green Bay we had to make a statement," said cornerback Cary Williams. "We understood that we had to right the ship, this was a must-win situation this week and we didn’t want to lose at home. I think we did a great job in our game plan. I think we did a great job of preparing and it showed out there today."

The defense didn't stop, however. Cole recorded sacks on back-to-back plays to force a punt on the Titans’ next series. After a Sanchez interception, the defense got the ball back on the very next play as nose tackle Bennie Logan forced a Bishop Sankey fumble that was recovered by cornerback Bradley Fletcher.

“Every game counts. I think the league is up for grabs right now," said Cole, who notched his 20th-career multi-sack game and claimed Mettenberger as the 50th-career sack victim. "A lot of teams are losing and I feel like we have a very strong team. I think that we can keep winning games as long as we go out there and play mistake free, be disciplined and beat the man across from us I think we can win games and keep this train rolling."

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