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Morning Roundup: Looking at the NFC Beast

Fletcher Cox
Fletcher Cox

Eagles stealing extra possessions early in the season

In football, turnovers provide extra possessions. That is what the Eagles' defense has done to start the season.

Through the opening two weeks of the season, both wins, the Eagles have forced six turnovers – tied for second in the league. Two of those came in Week 1 against the Patriots and the rest in Week 2 against the Vikings.

"We practice trying to turn the ball over," cornerback Darius Slay said. "We are always punching and ripping at the ball. I guess teams have to get better with ball security because we practice it a lot."

In the home opener victory on Thursday Night Football, the defense forced four fumbles. This was the first time they forced four fumbles in a game since October 23, 2016. The opponent then was also the Minnesota Vikings.

The first turnover was caused by the special teams unit. Justin Evans punched the ball away from Brandon Powell during a punt return. Nicholas Morrow, who was just signed to the active roster, had the ball roll right into his arms for the recovery.

This was Evans' second forced fumble of his career, collecting the other one last season with the Saints.

"I was excited," Evans said. "I did not even really understand what was going on because stuff happens so fast. You do not really get time to think."

The second fumble was courtesy of Alexander Mattison, who had the ball knocked loose by Avonte Maddox at the end of a run. Evans, who forced the first fumble, was there to recover the second one.

For a player who missed three years due to a knee injury, Evans is finding his groove in the secondary, starting the first two games of the season.

"It creates momentum," Evans said. "It gets people fired up. Somebody else is going to want to make a play after that, it is just contagious."

The third turnover came with just 33 seconds remaining in the first half, and it was the wildest one of the game.

Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson was streaking to the front left corner of the end zone on a reception when safety Terrell Edmunds tackled him, jarring the ball from his grasp. Before Jefferson could get the ball to cross the plane of the goal line, the ball came loose and flew out of the back of the end zone.

Because Jefferson did not cross the goal line with control of the ball, the play was ruled a fumble out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback for the Eagles.

This was the first forced fumble of Edmunds' career, and it allowed the offense one more chance at putting points on the board before they ran into the locker room. In about 33 seconds, Jalen Hurts and company got into field goal range where Jake Elliott was able to nail a 61-yard kick, tying the longest of his career and in franchise history.

"It was a huge moment," Edmunds said. "It is a long game, so you never know what can happen. That was a key part to get our offense back on the field and stop them from taking the lead."

"Excellent hustle to finish on the play," said Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni. "Just a phenomenal hustle effort by Terrell Edmunds to get that ball out going into the end zone."

The turnovers would not end there.

On the second play from scrimmage in the second half, Josh Sweat hurried in for a strip-sack of Kirk Cousins as the ball fell kindly to Fletcher Cox.

Cox was tackled at the Vikings 7-yard line, setting up the offense in wonderful field position. Just two plays later, Hurts found the end zone on a 1-yard rush.

"Guys were determined to create turnovers," Cox said. "We tried to get the ball back for the offense, steal some possessions. I should have scored, but the most important thing is that we got the ball back for the offense and they scored a couple plays later."

That was just one game.

In Week 1, the Eagles forced two turnovers against the Patriots, one interception and one fumble, helping them claim a victory.

Big Play Slay picked off Mac Jones in the first quarter and took it back to the house for a 70-yard touchdown. The next Patriots offensive play, Jordan Davis forced Ezekiel Elliott to fumble, and Zach Cunningham was there to recover. The offense would pick up the ball in great field position and find the end zone on a DeVonta Smith score.

In two games this season, the Eagles have forced six turnovers and scored 23 points on their extra possessions. – Written by Owen Boyle

First Look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Eagles travel to Tampa Bay in a clash of 2-0 next week for yet another prime-time matchup on Monday Night Football.

This will be the first time that the two teams have met since the 2021 Wild Card Round at the end of Nick Sirianni's first season as head coach when the Bucs beat the Eagles 31-15.

The Eagles are looking for their first regular-season win over the Bucs since the 2013 campaign – Tampa Bay has won the last four meetings, including the 2021 playoff showdown.

The Bucs improved to 2-0 on Sunday with a 27-17 win over the Chicago Bears. Tampa Bay has received efficient quarterback play from Baker Mayfield, who was 26-of-34 for 317 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Mike Evans scored on a 32-yard touchdown reception as part of a 6-catch, 171-yard outing.

The defense sealed the win with a Shaq Barrett pick-six in the fourth quarter.

The Bucs have been efficient on third down offensively (tied for 8th in the NFL) and have yet to turn the ball over, good for a +5 turnover ratio that is second in the league.

Evans is fourth in the NFL with 237 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the first two games. Mayfield has only been sacked once and has a 104.4 QB rating, good for fifth in the NFL.

A 'Perfect' Weekend for the NFC East (Not for Eagles Fans)

The Eagles aren't the only 2-0 team in the NFC East.

In fact, as a whole, the division is off to another blistering start with a combined 7-1 record, the only loss coming from an intradivision showdown between the Giants and the Cowboys.

Dallas improved to 2-0 as its defense ground the Jets 30-10, allowing just 215 total yards and forcing four turnovers. The Jets were held scoreless in the second half after only trailing 18-10 at halftime.

Washington is also 2-0 after surviving a 50-yard Hail Mary as time expired from Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos. Wilson's 2-point pass attempt after the touchdown to tie the game to wide receiver Courtland Sutton was incomplete as the Commanders escaped with the 35-33 win after trailing 21-3 in the second quarter. Running back Brian Robinson rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Sam Howell threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns as he remains undefeated as a starter dating back to Week 18 of last season.

The Giants got their first win of the season, needing a comeback as well. New York overcame deficits of 20-0 at halftime and 28-7 in the third quarter by scoring the game's final 24 points, including a 17-0 edge in the fourth quarter. Saquon Barkley scored two touchdowns – one on the ground and one in the air – before leaving with an ankle injury. Daniel Jones threw for 321 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The Cardinals gained just three first downs on their final four offensive drives.

The Eagles host the Minnesota Vikings in their home opener for the second year in a row in a prime-time showdown. Check out the images from the matchup between two of the NFC's division winners from 2022.

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