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Punt Block, TD A Special Moment

Posted Oct 5, 2014

James Casey saw it all developing in front of him. Trey Burton knocked aside the personal protector. Bryan Braman, lined up at L-5, occupied two blockers. And suddenly nobody was between Casey and punter Johnny Hekker.

"It's really rare that you come free, that they don't block you," said Casey after the Eagles' 34-28 win over St. Louis on Sunday, a game kick-started by a Casey blocked punt that Chris Maragos recovered and returned 10 yards for a touchdown. "You have to expect it, though. You have to be ready to get to the football. My mindset was to get to the football and block it.

"It was the whole group working together to make it happen to allow me to come free."

After the Rams took possession to open the game at their 20-yard line, the defense had a three-and-out series and gave the special teams a chance to make something special happen.

That's exactly what happened. Casey burst in up the middle untouched and spiked punter Johnny Hekker's kick, and the ball bounced loose at the 10-yard line, where Chris Maragos scooped it up and returned it for the Eagles' fourth special teams touchdown of the young season.

"We know we're a great unit, but to go out there and demonstrate it feels great," said Casey. "We know we're going to be a target, but that's OK. We're up for the challenge."

It was also the third straight game in which the Eagles have scored on special teams, a franchise record. The back-to-back games in which the Eagles have blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown are firsts for the teams, who became the first team in the NFL to accomplish that since Baltimore did so in 2002.

"That's my first one and it's special because it was a total group effort," said Maragos. "My teammates made the play for me. Malcolm Jenkins could have picked it up but he saw me coming with the right of way to the end zone and he allowed me to get it. The guys blocked for me. I was just the recipient of the work of the entire group."

This special-team success is remarkable, and the Eagles want more and more.

"We're working great together and it's fun to be part of this group," said Casey. "It's the way it works in the NFL. When you are on the field, you are trying to make a difference."

No doubt, the special teams are doing that for the Eagles -- in record fashion.

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