Gunn and Mosher recap Eagles' win over Lions
The Eagles held the NFL's leading receiver, Calvin Johnson, to only three catches for 49 yards in Sunday's win over the Lions. (AP)
Bringing your Hall of Fame wide receiver to the Linc? Yeah, good luck with that.
For the second week in a row, the Eagles faced a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and for the second week in a row, they did a terrific job defending him.
And, for the second week in a row, they recorded huge wins over an NFC rival with a winning record (see story).
Last week, it was Larry Fitzgerald. Sunday, it was Calvin Johnson.
Fitzgerald caught five passes for 72 yards in the Eagles’ win over the Cards at the Linc a week ago, and he had just 20 receiving yards after halftime.
On Sunday, once again, the Eagles came up big against an all-time great. In a game played in snow, wind and sub-freezing temperatures (see story), the Eagles held Johnson -- the NFL’s leading receiver -- to three catches for 49 yards (see 10 observations).
Johnson, who set an NFL record with 1,964 receiving yards last year, came to Philly averaging 108 yards per game this year and 112 over the last three seasons.
Like Fitz a week earlier, he was a non-factor after halftime, with just one nine-yard catch.
“We know how important he is to their offense,” cornerback Brandon Boykin said.
“They went to him plenty of times. Even though we knew they were going to throw the ball, they still tried to put it in there and make a play, so I think we did a good job on him and all their receivers.”
Johnson had averaged 160 yards in his previous six games, but on Sunday, the combination of the Eagles’ defense and the conditions made it impossible for him to make plays.
“It was a great team, collective effort,” cornerback Cary Williams. “The guys up front, first and foremost, handled their business, not allowing the quarterback to step into throws. Then it starts with the secondary doing our jobs and making sure no one gets over the top.”
Johnson beat Williams for a 33-yard gain late in the first quarter, but other than that, Johnson had just a seven-yard catch in the first quarter and a harmless nine-yarder in the third quarter (see Instant Replay).
“I’m disappointed I gave up that deep ball in the middle, but for the most part, we held them,” Williams said. “I’m very proud of this team and very proud of the coaching staff for what it has done to get us to this point.
The Eagles, now 8-5, have won five straight games for the first time since 2009, and their defense has held nine straight teams to 21 or fewer points.
With a Cowboys loss to the Bears on Monday night, the Eagles will take command of the NFC East with three weeks to go.
“This is not a situation where we get complacent,” Williams said. “We are going to continue to make strides and get better each and every week.”
The first seven weeks of the season, the Eagles allowed six 100-yard receivers. The last six, they’ve allowed just one.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz blamed mainly the weather for Johnson’s mediocre numbers.
“It was tough to get the outside guys the football,” he said. “Other than the yard stripes, they were working with six or eight inches of snow out there, so it made it tough. And we didn’t do a good enough job in our pass game.”
The weather may have negatively affected Johnson, but Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson both had more yards than Megatron.
“The conditions didn’t work in his favor, but D-Jack had some big catches and a touchdown and Calvin Johnson didn’t,” lineabcker Connor Barwin said.
“It’s a credit to everybody. The secondary did their job, and up front we didn’t get sacks, but I don’t think there was any moment where Stafford felt comfortable back there. He wasn’t able to make the throws he wanted to make.”