Jalen Hurts gained the headlines, and deservedly so. He came back from a struggling first half on Sunday and led the Eagles to a come-from-behind-win on Sunday, the first fourth-quarter win of his NFL career. Cornerbacks Darius Slay (2) and Steven Nelson (1) had key interceptions. T.J. Edwards and Shaun Bradley combined for a game-changing punt block on special teams. Jake Elliott made a 58-yard field goal, among his two field goal successes in the win at Carolina.
There were also some under-the-radar players who stepped up in that key victory, leading into this short week and a Thursday night game against Tampa Bay. Let's talk about them to begin and then turn the attention toward Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl Champions ...
Davion Taylor, LB
The second-year player saw the most single-game action in his career, playing 24 snaps and making four combined tackles. Taylor has come a long way since the Eagles drafted him last year. He's stronger and he's much more confident in his assignments and he's taking on blockers and shedding to get to the football. There is still a lot of growing to do, but Taylor has made progress and he's being rewarded with additional playing time. Injuries have set him back since Training Camp, so maybe he can stay healthy and take steps forward. The coaching staff has been very high on Taylor since they started working together – he's a great athlete with raw ability oozing out of his body. Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon is going to continue to implement Taylor into this defense.
DeVonta Smith, WR
He always receives a lot of attention so maybe Smith isn't exactly under the radar, but it's important to point out how Smith has become the go-to receiver here and the pass catcher that defenses want to take away from the offense. Smith stepped up with 7 receptions for 77 yards and added a two-point conversion, overcoming a lost fumble in the process. Smith is on pace to put up 85 receptions and 1,077 yards, so we will see where it goes from here. For a player who doesn't overpower with his size, his ability to come free in the red zone is extremely impressive – remember, he had a touchdown catch nullified by a penalty.
Genard Avery, LB
Good game for Avery, who in 35 defensive snaps produced eight total tackles, including one for loss. We haven't seen much from Avery since the Eagles acquired him in a trade from Cleveland a couple of seasons ago, but he's coming along in this defense. It was good to see him around the football and playing so physically on Sunday.
Nelson's interception came at the 2-minute mark and the Eagles had some work to do before the game ended. They turned to the running game and picked up two first downs using Miles Sanders and Kenny Gainwell – Sanders was pushed out of bounds twice, and that is something he needs to correct – and forced the Panthers to burn three timeouts. It was, then, a very successful operation ending in Victory Formation.
Andre Dillard, LT
The team's 2019 No. 1 draft pick played good football against a blitzing, stunting scheme that is designed to fool offensive linemen and one that, by the way, is one of the league's best. Dillard has been stout for the most part, he's shown his athleticism and he has corrected mistakes during the course of the three consecutive starts he's had. No doubt Dillard is playing with more confidence with the extending playing time he's receiving.
Derek Barnett, DE
Barnett didn't record a quarterback sack – those went to Josh Sweat, Fletcher Cox, and Javon Hargrave – but he was part of the defensive effort that made life miserable for quarterback Sam Darnold, who spent Sunday afternoon on the run. Barnett had three tackles and two quarterback hits. He plays with extremely high effort and while he's admitted that he needs to rein in that energy at times, it is what makes him a good football player. Now Barnett faces the man he saw in Super Bowl LII, Tom Brady, a veteran who generally doesn't let any defensive players near him before releasing the football.