If Kevin Kolb and the Eagles offense provided the spark this afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles defense provided the hammer. After a solid performance in San Francisco, in which Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore was held to 52 yards on 18 carries, Atlanta got similar treatment Sunday. Only this time, the victim was All-Pro running back Michael Turner.
"(Michael Turner) is a heck of a runner," head coach Andy Reid said after the game. "We had him over at the Pro Bowl the last time we were coaching in it, and (Turner) is a heck of a player. To be able to do that is a real compliment to our defense."
Turner finished the game with 45 yards on 15 carries, his second-lowest rushing output of the season. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said that while it's great to shut down a runner of Turner's caliber, the main objective was simply to get off the field.
"The biggest thing was, I didn't want them to hold the ball away from our offense from a time of possession stand point," McDermott said. "I wanted us to give our offense a chance.
"We're a work in progress. We've got a lot of new faces on this defense and we're just going to continue to work hard each and every week to point this defense in the right direction."
Injuries are a factor every season for each and every team. But it sure seems like the injury bug has set up camp in Philadelphia. This week, the defense was without the services of starting defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, and called upon Trevor Laws and Antonio Dixon to fill the void.
While neither lit up the stat sheet, both played integral roles in holding the No. 2 ranked rushing offense in the NFL to 65 total yards on the ground.
"Just stay in your gap," Laws said when asked what the game plan was. "Everyone do your job, no one try get up field and make a crazy play. Everyone doing what they do and let the defense work the way it's supposed to work. Just get set on the edge, people stayed in their lanes, and we made plays when we needed to."
Not surprisingly, defensive end Trent Cole was making plays as well. His two sacks and a forced fumble hardly tell the story of his disruptive day. On almost every drop back, Ryan was under pressure. And most of the time, Cole was in the middle of it.
The 6-3, 270-pound defensive end who calls himself, "The Hunter," thinks that after today, the NFL will take note of this defense.
"We made a big statement," Cole said after the game. "We're a great team even though we've had some ugly games. We're a good team and we need to make improvements in certain areas, but we came out here and did what we were supposed to do, and we came out with a great win.
"When it comes to pass rushers, I think we're a deadly defense."
After silencing Gore and Turner in back-to-back weeks, an even greater test awaits the Eagles defense next week in Nashville. Titans running back Chris Johnson was the NFL's leading rusher in 2009, gaining over 2,000 yards on the ground.
If the Eagles can contain Johnson, like they did the two previous Pro Bowl rushers they've faced, McDermott's unit will have to be considered among the best run defenses in the league.
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 7:40 p.m., October 17