One of the subplots of the Eagles’ 24-7 win over the Vikings on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field was the matchup between Justin Jefferson and Darius ‘Big Play’ Slay.
Both had big years in 2021, and both made the Pro Bowl last season. The second-year wideout was coming off a big performance(nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns) against the Packers in Week 1, while the 10-year corner and the Eagles’ defense were looking to have a bounce-back performance after struggling against the Lions.
This was the first time these two went head-to-head, and it was evident by the night’s end that Round 1 went to Slay.
According to Pro Football Focus, when Slay was on Jefferson, he held him to one catch on six targets and had a career-high tying two picks.
In addition, Slay also finished with a career-high five passes defensed.
After the win, Slay said he was looking forward to the matchup against Jefferson.
“I take no matchup lightly, but he is one of the best in the world,” Slay said of Jefferson. “I am one of the best in the world, too. I was looking forward to the matchup.”
Jefferson, who finished the game with six catches for 48 yards, gave props to Slay.
“He’s a competitor for sure,” Jefferson said. “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.”
At age 31, Slay is playing at a high level, and he still believes he’s an elite corner in the NFL.
“I have 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,” Slay said. “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.”
76ers star James Harden was in attendance on Monday night, and after his first interception, Slay gave the ball to the 10-time All-Star.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know he was at the game until they put him on the [videoboard],” Slay said about Harden. “He is one of my favorite players. I am like, why not? I get a chance to meet James Harden, a Hall of Fame basketball player. If I make a play tonight, definitely a pick, I have to give him the ball because he is well respected in the league and my favorite. I thought it was a good opportunity.”
After allowing 35 points to the Lions last Sunday, the Eagles’ defense got the job done against the Vikings, and ‘Big Play’ Slay was one of the biggest reasons.
On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles(4-6) used a dominant run game, big plays from DeVonta Smith, and an opportunistic defense to knock off the Broncos(5-5) 30-13 at Empower Field at Mile High.
The Eagles rushed for 214 yards against the Broncos, led by Jordan Howard’s 83 yards and Boston Scott’s 81 yards. Also, Jalen Hurts, who ran for 53 yards, became the first Eagles QB to have 50+ rushing yards in four consecutive games since 2011. This was the third-straight game in which the team has recorded 175+ rushing yards. Philadelphia has also rushed for 200+ yards in two of their last three games.
In addition, Hurts to Smith(four catches 64 yards, two touchdowns) worked very well for the Eagles. The two connected on two touchdowns, including a leaping 36-yard touchdown reception by Smith in the first quarter that gave Philadelphia an early 10-0 lead.
Denver would ultimately tie the game at 10, but Hurts would connect with Smith on a five-yard touchdown pass to give the Eagles a 17-10 lead in the second quarter. According to Sportradar, Smith, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday, became just the third Eagle to post multiple touchdowns on their birthday; he also became the first Eagles rookie to record multiple receiving touchdowns in a single game since 2014.
The Eagles took a 20-10 lead into halftime, and late in the third, with the team leading 20-13, the Broncos had a big 4th and one deep in Eagles’ territory, and Broncos RB Melvin Gordon was stripped by Eagles LB Davion Taylor, which was scooped up by Darius Slay who would return it 82 yards for a touchdown to give Philadelphia a commanding 27-13 lead.
“Big Play Slay” made the play of the game, and with the Eagles struggling offensively in the second half, his return for a touchdown was huge.
Philadelphia now returns home to face the sixth-seeded Saints(5-4) next Sunday, and don’t look now, but the Eagles are in a playoff race at this point. They are one game behind the seventh-seeded Carolina Panthers(5-5), so if they can beat the Saints, Philly could get one step closer to the playoffs.
In the end, there’s still a lot of football left.
Best of the Rest:
-Hurts went 16-of-23 for 178 passing yards and two touchdowns.
-K’Von Wallace kept Denver off the board following their first possession of the third quarter when he blocked a 22-yard FG attempt by Broncos K Brandon McManus. He became the first Eagle to register a blocked FG since Derek Barnett on 11/22/20 against the Browns.