At Lowest Point, Darius Slay Flashes His Greatest Traits

Darius Slay came to Philadelphia with high expectations, a chance to join a "winner" after enduring far more downs than ups with the Detroit Lions
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PHILADELPHIA - Darius Slay has to get in line with so many when it comes to 2020 being a little personally underwhelming.

The three-time Pro Bowl cornerback came to Philadelphia with high expectations, a chance to join a "winner" after enduring far more downs than ups with the almost-perennial downtrodden Detroit Lions.

For the most part, Slay, 29, has been as advertised, by far the best cornerback the Eagles have had in the Doug Pederson/Jim Schwartz era, but a Lions-like 3-7-1 record speaks to a disappointing bottom line Schwartz uses as a measuring stick.

On the surface Slay was his usual self in a 23-17 loss to Seattle on Sunday night, traveling with the opposition's best, DK Metcalf, and forcing the 6-foot-4, 230-pound monster to work a little bit harder for everything he got.

When you flipped through the gamebook after the contest, however, Metcalf was at 10 receptions on 13 targets for 177 yards, somehow actually outpacing the Ole Miss' product last trip to Lincoln Financial Field back in January when he set an NFL rookie record with nine catches for 160 yards and a touchdown in the Seahawks’ wild-card playoff win.

VIDEO: Postgame analysis from Ed Kracz and John McMullen

It was almost like a lockdown defender in the NBA doggedly checking Michael Jordan for 48 minutes only to look up when the final buzzer sounded to see a 40 spot.

The always-ebullient Slay called it his worst game as a pro after the contest via Zoom.

"I would say this is by far the worst game I have ever played in the league," said Slay. "I truly lost every 50/50 ball. I was probably O-for. I have never been that, but I say props to him, he played his ass off today, and I have to get better.”

If you take Metcalf out of the equation the Eagles defense did more than enough to win.

More so when you understand Slay was brought in for moments like this, the emotion might lead some down the wrong path.

Even though it didn't work out on one November night against a better team you could still see why Howie Roseman made the move to get Slay in the offseason.

It's easy to escape accountability in a virtual world as an NFL player after a perceived poor game. You just wave off the media relations official with little consequence.

The fact that Slay stood tall and was accountable speaks to his character as a player. 

The realization that he didn't lose one iota of his legendary confidence points to his effectiveness as a CB in a league where everything is slanted against them and a short memory is a prerequisite for the job.

“Hell, no, I don’t need no help,” said Slay when asked about lobbying Schwartz for some reinforcements. “What kind of question is that?”

Metcalf was working with some self-created bulletin-board material of his own as well, feeling slighted that the Eagles passed him over for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in 2019 and also twisting a Schwartz compliment comparing him to Calvin Johnson into a knock.

In the end, you had an athletic marvel with a chip on his shoulder bringing his A-game to the Linc. Had it been a B- or C-level effort, Slay would have been fine because the veteran CB battled every step of the way.

“I lost every 50-50 ball," he said. "I’m usually on the other side of that. (Monday) I’m on the other side. I let the team down. I told the defense that game was on me.”

On Sunday in Green Bay, it will be Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, superstars Slay has plenty of experience with dating back to his time with the Lions.

So they already know the A-game is required.

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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