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Darius Slay Puts on Show for James Harden, Bryce Harper, Fans

Phillies and Sixers turned out for the Eagles' home opener and watched the veteran CB pick off two passes and play stout defense on Justin Jefferson
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PHILADELPHIA – The Lincoln Financial Field crowd cheered throughout Monday night’s Eagles home opener.

The only time they booed was when Jalen Reagor took the field and a time or two at a referee they believed had made a wrong call.

That’s what happens when you start quickly, the way the Eagles did against the Vikings, methodically marching 82 yards on 11 plays in 5:51 on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead on a Jalen Hurts 3-yard touchdown run.

The Eagles coasted from there, moving to 2-0 on the young season with a 24-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The Linc crowd also cheered loudly when the Jumbotrons behind each end zone show some of the Philadelphia celebrities who were in attendance.

Phillies Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins and Sixers guard James Harden watched the Eagles dominate from the stands.

“That’s nice, that’s nice, and that’s Philly,” said QB Jalen Hurts. “I know the support I have for the 76ers. Talking to Bryce, meeting 'The Process,’ (Joel Embiid) supporting them, and having that type of environment in this city, that’s a winning culture.

"It’s great to see those guys out there, that’s what Philly is, and that’s what Philly is all about.”

Darius Slay had no idea Harden was in the crowd, but when he got the first of two interceptions, he went over to him and gave him the ball he had just taken away from Vikings QB Kirk Cousins.

The veteran cornerback didn't know Harden was there until he saw him on the Jumbotron.

“He’s one of my favorite players,” said Slay. “Shoot, I’m like, ‘Why not? I get the chance to meet James Harden, a Hall of Fame basketball player.’ If I make a play, definitely a pick, I gotta give him the ball because he’s well respected in the league, one of my favorites.

“He just said, ‘Much respect, man.’ He was shocked that I gave it to him, too. But like I told him, ‘You’re one of my favorites. I respect your game.’”

Sixers guard James Harden holds the ball Darius Slay gave him when Slay intercepted Vikings QB Kirk Cousins

Sixers guard James Harden holds the ball Darius Slay presented him after the first of two interceptions by the Eagles cornerback.

Slay is a well-respected cornerback across the league, but he took that respect to the next level against the Vikings.

He played perhaps his best game since becoming an Eagle three years when GM Howie Roseman traded third- and fifth-round picks to the Lions for him.

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One of the reasons Slay was excited to come to Philadelphia was to be able to get some primetime exposure. He never played on Monday Night Football in seven seasons with the Lions.

“I (get) a lot of respect, but you know how it always goes, the older you get, they think you are falling off, but I am not one of those guys,” said Slay, who will turn 32 on New Year’s Day. “I am still at an elite level. I deserve a lot of respect. I think the league respects me enough. It is just the media.”

His end zone interception with 7:16 left in the game prevented the Vikings from entertaining any last-ditch thoughts about coming back from a 24-7 deficit.

He said he would give that ball to his son because Justin Jefferson is his favorite receiver.

Slay could have had three interceptions, but he dropped one earlier.

“He was supposed to have three picks,” said DeVonta Smith, who tied a career-high with seven catches. “I told him he gotta get on the JUGS with me. He gotta catch that, especially when they’re giving it to you.”

As it was, Slay’s two picks helped steal the headlines, but he was also part of another one – he had a large role in shutting down his son's favorite WR, Jefferson.

“I take no match-up lightly,” said Slay, “but he is one of the best in the world. I am one of the best in the world, too. I was looking forward to the match-up.”

There were many times he traveled with the Vikings’ splendid receiver and lined up one-on-one against him. Jefferson had a quiet night, with just six catches for 48 yards and no touchdowns.

“He’s a competitor for sure,” said Jefferson of Slay. “I knew that I was going to get that from him. I mean, he’s a great cornerback. He’s a great player. A great guy, too. We definitely could’ve had some more opportunities out there to score and put up points, and we just didn’t.”

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Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.