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“Best defensive line in league” moves Eagles to 3-0

The pressure was on the Philadelphia Eagles defense over the past two weeks, and on both occasions Jonathan Gannon’s group rose to the challenge and propelled the NFC East leaders to an unbeaten start.

In Sunday’s 24-8 road win over the Washington Commanders, it was the defense that once again received plenty of the praise, sacking former Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz nine times. A total of six different defensive players recorded at least one sack apiece, led by veteran defensive end Brandon Graham’s two-and-a-half.

It was a dominant first half for the Eagles defensive front and it only led to the offense making the most of their chances in a comfortable victory at Fedex Field.

“You start early and it just gets going and everybody wants in on the fun,” Eagles pass rusher Hasson Reddick said. “It wasn’t a whole lot more than us beating our man and winning our battles, and then it became contagious. We were all having so much fun.”

“Everybody wanted to eat,” Graham said. “We had the mindset that we wanted to get after Carson because he likes to keep a play alive and extend things, so you just keep after it on every play. Keep pushing and know the play isn’t dead. Our back end is covering great and that helps. We felt like we dominated.”

After recording only three sacks in victories over the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings, the Eagles pass rush made it a reunion to forget for Wentz, hitting him a total of 17 times on the afternoon. Wentz also lost one fumble and finished with 18 incomplete passes as the Commanders offense never really clicked in the loss.

Only wide receiver Terry McLaurin recorded over 50 receiving yards for Ron Rivera’s offense, with majority of that coming in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. The Eagles’ constant pressure on Wentz, also helped in stopping any rushing attack for the Commanders, limiting them to 87 yards on the ground.

After moving up to No. 1 in the NFL with 12 sacks through three games, the Eagles will be eager to knock off another key figure from their 2018 Super Bowl run. Doug Pederson and the Jacksonville Jaguars will make the trip to Lincoln Financial Field in Week 4, the first head-to-head meeting between the Pederson and his former team since he was fired in 2021.

One things for sure though, if the Eagles continue to have fun on the defensive side of the ball, it will only take added pressure off quarterback Jalen Hurts and the rest of the offense going forward.

“You can feel it, for sure,” safety Marcus Epps said when asked about the growing chemistry of the defensive unit. “We’re getting to know each other and we improve every day. It was fun out there today. Every time I looked into the backfield, we had the quarterback down on the ground. That’s what you want. Our defensive line is the best in the league and we showed that today.”

“You love to have these kinds of days,” Graham said. “It’s exciting. We know what we are capable of doing and today, man, in that first half we just dominated. Now, we have to get ready for Jacksonville, get our rest, and play our best game next Sunday.”

You can follow Larry Henry on Twitter (@lhenry019) and e-mail him at [email protected].

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