Eagles’ defense continues to shut down running games, force turnovers

Eagles tush push defense
Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts, center, scores a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Monday, Sept. 25, 2023, in Tampa, Fla.
AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

By DAN GELSTON AP Sports Writer

Jalen Hurts, the “tush push” and suddenly one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL get the bulk of the love for the Eagles’ second straight 3-0 start.

Don’t forget about the defense.

The Eagles’ D — full of new starters and new defensive coordinator Sean Desai — has been downright dominant over the first three games. They produced their best effort of the season in a 25-11 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a game that put the spotlight on Jalen Carter, Darius Slay Jr., Jordan Davis and the rest of the defense.

And one sure to put the rest of the NFL on notice.

The Eagles have allowed just 145 yards rushing — total! — in three games on 48 carries. That’s a bit over 48 yards per game and 3.02 yards per carry. The longest run allowed over that span is just 12 yards.

Tampa Bay had yet to turn the ball over in its first two games, both wins, until it ran into the Eagles. Baker Mayfield threw an interception and there was a lost fumble and a safety. That’s about as stout as limiting Minnesota to 28 yards rushing in Week 2. Or Slay’s pick-6 in the opener against New England.

Turns out, Philadelphia’s most explosive plays are happening on defense.

“This defense is awesome. I love the defense,” said Carter, this year’s first-round draft pick. “Everybody trusts one another. Everybody plays their role and do what they got to do. And if somebody is going down, it’s that next man up and we are not worried about who the next man is.”

Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Carter smiles while answering a question during a news conference at the NFL football team’s training facility, Friday, April 28, 2023, in Philadelphia.AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Carter actually forced two fumbles; the first one was recovered by Tampa Bay. The second came on the next play when he punched the ball out of running back Rachaad White’s arms. James Bradberry recovered that one.

“That’s why you got to punch as hard as you can to try to get the ball out,” Carter said. “Running backs work on holding the ball and keeping it protected. I feel like if you push hard enough, you can get it out.”


The jokes ran wild on social media all night and even the Eagles had fun with the fact they have their own Kelce-Swift connection.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) celebrates his touchdown with Philadelphia Eagles running back D’Andre Swift (0) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Philadelphia.AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Unlike the Chiefs — who are the talk of the NFL thank to Taylor Swift’s visit to Kansas City to watch Travis Kelce play — the Eagles are getting production out of their Swift. With center (and Travis’ brother) Jason Kelce anchoring the offensive line, running back D’Andre Swift continues to play like the pickup of the offseason. A week after running for a career-high 175 yards, Swift ran for 130 yards on 16 attempts. He rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games for the second time in his career and the first time since 2021.


A.J. Brown had a big game after beefing with Hurts on the sideline in the previous game, but the early season pattern of only one receiver getting the bulk of the receptions continued. Dallas Goedert was shut out in the opener and DeVonta Smith had only four catches for 28 yards on Monday. Yes, there’s only one ball, and Swift’s fantastic start means fewer opportunities to throw, but Hurts and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson are surely aware they’ll have to spread the love to keep everyone happy.

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay (2) reacts on the sideline after intercepting a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in Philadelphia.AP Photo/Chris Szagola


Britain Covey’s career-long 52-yard punt return in the first quarter was the longest for an Eagles player since 2020. He also had a 30-yard return and returns of 14 and 15 yards, giving a needed boost to Philadelphia’s field position.


Much like last season, when the Eagles are on, it’s hard to find anyone not playing well. Hurts (who played despite flu-like symptoms) did throw two interceptions and was late on a few throws, meaning he still has work ahead to reach last season’s MVP runner-up level. But he still accounted for two touchdowns and the Eagles are 3-0. Yes, Eagles fans want more from Hurts — and he’s clearly aware he can improve — but it’s hard to argue with the bottom line.


WR Quez Watkins (hamstring) and RB Boston Scott (concussion) were inactive. S Justin Evans (neck) left the game in the first quarter.


25-11. — Scorigami! The game was the first in NFL history that ended 25-11 and it was the 1,078th unique final score in league history.


Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris will know the way Sunday to Philadelphia’s sports complex. He also owns the 76ers, among his many sports teams. The Commanders are coming off a 37-3 loss to Buffalo. The Eagles opened as 8 1/2-point favorites, per FanDuel Sportsbook.