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Jonathan Gannon's Defense Stands Tall in Win

The defense allowed only one TD, and it came on the opening drive and held Jonathan Taylor in check to allow the Eagles QB to engineer a fourth-quarter rally for a 17-16 win
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INDIANAPOLIS – Jalen Hurts played like an MVP, taking over the fourth quarter and leading a comeback from a fourth-quarter, double-deficit for an Eagles team that hadn't had one of those in 12 years.

The Eagles QB put the team on his shoulders and carried them to a 17-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.

It was the defense, though, that made it possible for Hurts to strap on his comeback cape.

Yes, a defense led by Jonathan Gannon, the defensive coordinator who most Eagles fans want to drive to the airport for the next flight out of town.

  • The Eagles held Indy to one touchdown. One in 60 minutes.
  • They sacked Matt Ryan four times. All in the second half.
  • They made a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter. A touchdown there, rather than a field goal, and the game becomes two scores and is probably over.
  • They held the Colts to a field goal after Hurts was strip-sacked from behind on the first play of the third quarter and turned the ball over to the home team at his own 22.

“Credit to the defense,” said center Jason Kelce. “They played their tails off all game long against a really, really good offensive line and a tremendous running back. I thought they were spectacular, and they kept us in the game.”

The Colts scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, moving 75 yards in 5 minutes, 23 seconds, and 10 plays, converting all three third downs along the way.

Jonathan Taylor had 48 yards on the drive. He only had 36 for the rest of the game.

Oh, and he lost a fumble.

Wait…he didn’t lose it. 

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Safety Marcus Epps ripped it out. T.J. Edwards recovered it at the Eagles’ 43.

The turnover halted a drive that could have tacked on even more points to a lead the Colts held at 13-10 with 11 minutes to play in the game.

“That was a big drive we stopped even though we didn’t get points on the offensive side, I just felt like we kept coming, stayed with it,” said Graham.

The veteran defensive end was right because the biggest play was yet to come.

That was Haason Reddick’s sack.

The Colts reached the Eagles’ 5-yard line. After a running play went nowhere and a pass fell incomplete, Reddick ran down Matt Ryan on third-and-goal for a 14-yard loss.

“I was just playing football,” said Reddick. “…I was like, we gotta stop them from scoring here, keep it to a field goal. We were able to do that. And then when we were back on the field, I said the same thing for (BG), and then he turned around and got a big sack.”

Ironically, Reddick appeared to get away with a face mask, and we all remember last week, when a missed face mask call on Dallas Goedert may have helped prevent an Eagles comeback in that loss to Washington.

A Colts TD with less than five minutes to play makes it 20-10. Ball game.

Instead, a field goal made it 16-10 and led to Hurts’ fourth-and-two conversion for a first down inside the 10 and his 7-yard TD run on third-and-goal moments later.

“The defensive coaches did an unbelievable job,” said head coach Nick Sirianni. “The defensive players did an unbelievable job. I've been in this stadium (as the Colts’ offensive coordinator for three years) when those offensive linemen over there, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly have taken over a game.

“That's a good offensive line. Jonathan Taylor is a good back. There was not much there. You know, there was not much there at all. It was awesome, right?”

It was, and it was needed to win this game.

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.