DENVER – The game hung in the balance and the Broncos were on the march when Darius Slay came out the sky like a lightning bolt, scooping up a forced fumble, and went this way then that way before finding a lane and bursting through it for an 83-yard touchdown return.
Time ran out in the third quarter during the play, then it eventually ran out on the Denver Broncos, too, as the Eagles won their fourth road game of the season, capturing this one, 30-13, at Empower Field at Mile High Stadium on Sunday.
The win moved the Eagles to 4-6 and they will go in search of their home win of the season next week when they host the New Orleans Saints. The Eagles also snaped Denver’s two-game winning streak, with both wins coming against NFC East opponents, Washington then, last week, Dallas.
The Eagles' win total matches what they had in 16 games last year.
“Again, any time you win a football game in this league on the road, it’s tough," said head coach Nick Sirianni. "We just had a good time. I guess my main message (to the team) was I’ll see you Wednesday.”
For Slay, it was his second scoop-and-score TD in the last three games. He got one against the Lions that was forced by Avonte Maddox that covered 33 yards.
The latest was forced by linebacker Davion Taylor and came after Jalen Hurts had just thrown an interception, his first since Oct. 14.
Slay became the fourth Eagles player in history to record two fumble recovery touchdowns in the same season, joining Juqua Parker (2011), Kevin Curtis (2007), and Seth Joyner (1991).
The Broncos had moved 30 yards to the 23-yard line after Justin Simmons’ pick of Hurts. It was there where they opted to go for it on fourth-and-one, and that’s when Slay’s lightning bolt happened, making the score 27-13.
“I mean that would take the air out of anybody," said Slay. "You turn it over after going for it on fourth down, clutch possession. Shoot, that would take the air out of anybody. That was our goal, to out-physical them, that’s the nail in the coffin right there.”
Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater had a chance to tackle Slay, but wanted no part of it, even though he had a good angle on him.
The Eagles' defense didn’t let the Broncos off the mat after Slay’s big play, forcing a three-and-out on Denver’s ensuing possession.
The offense then drained minutes off the clock with a bruising running game featuring Jordan Howard with a dusting of Boston Scott.
The running attack allowed the Eagles to move 60 yards in 10 plays, but, more importantly, consume 5 minutes, 57 seconds of the clock before Jake Elliott booted his third field goal of the game, this one a 22-yarder that gave Philadelphia a 30-13 lead with 7:36 to play.
The Eagles won the time of possession for just the third tie this year - 34:58 to 25:03 - and they are 3-0 now when that happens.
Elliott was also good from 30 yards to open the scoring early in the first quarter. He then connected from 52 yards away with five seconds left in the second quarter
Offensively, DeVonta Smith celebrated his 23rd birthday in style.
The rookie caught two touchdown passes, one from 36 yards for a 10-0 Eagles lead with 3:16 to play in the first quarter, his second from five yards out on third-and-goal, as the Eagles took a 20-10 lead at halftime.
It was the second straight week Smith has caught a touchdown and he has four on the season. He is the first Eagles rookie receiver to catch multiple TDs in a road game since Freddie Barnett on Dec. 29, 1990, at Phoenix.
“I wouldn’t say the birthday played a big part in it," said Smith, who now has 603 yards receiving and 42 catches and four touchdowns. "It’s just going out there and executing and doing things and doing what we do when we practice.”
The 36-yard TD is the longest receiving score by an Eagles rookie since rookie Mack Hollins had a 64-yard TD on Oct. 23, 2017, vs. Washington.
Smith ended with four catches for 66 yards. He did not have a reception in the second half but Jalen Hurts only had one completion in the second half.
Meanwhile, the running game once again proved mighty, with the Eagles rushing for 215 yards.
Howard had 12 carries for 83 yards, Scott 11 for 81, and Hurts 14 for 53. As a team, the Eagles ran 40 times for 214 yards.
“The past three weeks have been good," said RT Lane Johnson. "We’ve rushed for over 200 yards, so that’s good. We’ve got some big boys on the line now. You go to the left side - Landon [Dickerson] and Jordan [Mailata], those guys getting healthy, and those humans are moving people.”
Defensively, the big news was that Bridgewater did not become the sixth QB to complete 80 percent or more of his throws. He was 22-for-36 (61 percent) for 226 yards.
Derek Barnett had the lone sack. Safety Anthony Harris had nine tackles and was followed by Taylor, T.J. Edwards, and Avonte Maddox, each of whom had seven.
“It all starts up front," said Sirianni. "I think that defensive line played really well and was able to get some pressure. The coverage unit did a good job of making the quarterback hold it a little bit to allow the defensive line to get to him. I’m always going to say it starts up front, but I don’t want to take away anything from that secondary group."
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.