Philadelphia Eagles News

Chris Long's Robbery Plays Huge Role In Win

It's ski mask season in Philadelphia.

Since the Eagles' Week 14 game at Dallas, the defense has handed out a black ski mask to be worn victoriously by any player who forces a turnover.

In the Eagles' 32-29 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday, the only one of the day, and a huge one, belonged to defensive end Chris Long.

The Texans faced a third-and-13 at the Eagles' 34-yard line trailing by seven points with less than 14 minutes to play in the game. A conversion could allow them to potentially tie the game and even a stop would allow a field goal to make it closer.

Long wasn't having any of that.

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson dropped back and was swarmed by the defensive line. Defensive end Brandon Graham helped pushed Watson backwards and Long swooped from behind to smack him arm and force the football free.

The ball bounced into Houston territory before defensive tackle Fletcher Cox scooped it up and was forced out of bounds. Long went back to the bench, grabbed that mask, a began motioning to the raucous crowd while sporting it proudly.

"The ski mask felt amazing," said Long after the win. "I hadn't put on a ski mask in quite a while and I really wanted to put one on today."

"Whatever we've got to do," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "The ski masks, the dog masks, we're going to put it out there. We've come up with huge takeaways at the most clutch times that's been helping us all month and that's something we didn't do well pretty much all season. And so to turn that back up is I think one of the big reasons why we're pulling off these wins."

The turnover was not the end of the game, however. The Texans rallied from two scores down to take the lead in the fourth quarter before Jake Elliott's 35-yard field goal at the buzzer sealed the win.

But the sack-fumble led to a Zach Ertz touchdown that gave the Eagles a 29-16 lead. It was a game-changing play the Eagles had to have to pull of the win.

"(We) just keep fighting, man. That's the thing about it, we never give up." Cox said. "I think the most important thing for us is that we won the game. But guys just kept fighting and at no time did we check out of the game. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. We knew that was a really good football team. We knew that we had to play all four quarters to win the game."

The defensive line was especially important in pulling out the win.

Including the sack-fumble that changed the dynamic of the game in the fourth quarter, the Eagles had four sacks of Watson in the game and nine quarterback hits. Three sacks came in the final 15 minutes.

Defensive end Daeshon Hall, a 2017 third-round pick who was added to the Eagles on December 11 and played in just his third career game today, picked up his first career sack and split it with rookie defensive back Avonte Maddox.

Long said after the game that he and his teammates have a lot of respect for Watson, who was able to make players miss and escape rushes a few times in the game. It was imperative going in that the front seven got pressure.

"We know that it does start and end with us because the D-line, I think, is the engine that drives this team," Long said. "We always talk about be tough, be physical, and play 60 minutes."

But in addition to timely plays on the quarterback, the defense swarmed the Texans' ground game all day. Houston's two running backs, D'Onta Foreman and Alfred Blue combined for just 13 yards. Watson picked up the slack with 49 yards rushing himself.

"We know we're a big part of stopping the run and that was something that for a little bit there, we weren't getting done as a defense and we tried to put that on our shoulders," Long said. "And today, I think they ran they ran for about 50 yards so that was big for us.

"We'd like to get (Watson) on the ground late in the game when about six of us missed him but he's a hell of a player and they're a hell of a football team that's going to make a run. So, it was a big game for us."

Players said all week long that the desire to put on the ski mask was great motivation to play physically and try to steal the ball on every play. It's easy to see why. Lincoln Financial Field erupted as Long was shown on the video boards wearing the mask and yelling toward the similarly dressed fans.

Long said he hadn't put on a ski mask in a long time. It was so long ago, he couldn't even remember what he was doing when he wore one last.

"It's been a while, I don't know. I'll have to think back. Hopefully, it was skiing," Long said through laughter. "But yeah, it felt good man, it felt good. I haven't robbed any banks."

No banks. Only quarterbacks.

Take a look at the best photos from the Eagles' Week 16 matchup against the Houston Texans.

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