Edmunds' Fumble-Causing Tackle Turning Point In Birds Win Over Vikings
PHILADELPHIA – If the Eagles and Vikings were doing their best impression of a boxing match, the visiting Vikings were primed for a decided advantage, as they had the home team on the ropes.
With 52 seconds left until the break, and the Eagles nursing a 10-7 lead, the Vikings had an undermanned Eagles defense reeling.
As defensive end Josh Sweat bore down, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins forced a deep incompletion down the left sideline toward rookie wideout Jordan Addison.
Facing a 2nd-and-10 at the Eagles’ 31, Cousins locked in on his other wide receiver – 24-year-old All-Pro Justin Jefferson – and heaved a deep shot down the left side for a 30-yard completion.
The play covered just five seconds, and the Vikings approached the doorstep of their second touchdown in as many drives.
Jefferson, who had half a step on cornerback Mario Goodrich, who was subbing for injured Avonte Maddox, shook the second-year cornerback and lunged toward the pylon before being corralled at his legs near the goal line by safety Terrell Edmunds, who managed to separate Jefferson from the football.
The ball sailed over the pylon and out of bounds, but officials initially ruled Jefferson down at the 1.
Replay, however, confirmed the ball was out of bounds in the end zone, forcing a touchback that returned possession to the Eagles at their 20.
The sequence resulted in a game-deciding 10-point swing, as Jake Elliott’s 61-yard field goal going into the break Philadelphia culminated a six-play, 37-yard drive.
“It’s just all about finish,” Edmunds said after the game, a 34-28 Eagles win. “Something that we preach big on here, and I was just trying to help the team out the best way I could.
“Even if he would have fumbled in bounds, just give our defense another chance to go out there and possibly make a stop.”
In hindsight, the turnover proved to be a critical juncture in an otherwise see-saw tilt between NFC foes.
Cousins, who threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns, was heating up, exploiting an undermanned unit and peppering the short and intermediary levels of coordinator Sean Desai’s defense.
Cousins’ prompt decision-making had combatted a swarming Eagles pass-rush, and it appeared the floodgates had been pried open – until the sixth-year veteran safety, making his 76th career start, made a play.
“I definitely felt the urgency, just because it was still a tight game,” he acknowledged. “We were going back and forth a little bit and we knew that we just wanted to stay on top of them.
“So, the whole time we were just focusing on trying to get a stop and get the ball back to our offense. You have the make the plays that come to you and that was just my play to make.”
The heads-up tackle – occurring at perhaps the game’s most pivotal moment – incredulously went down as the first forced fumble of Edmunds’ career.
In spite of big plays largely eluding the 2018 first-round pick during his Steelers tenure, there were two things on Edmunds’ mind as he converged on Jefferson.
“I was trying to do both – stop him, make sure he didn’t reach – because you know, when you’re down there, it’s a game of inches – and just give another opportunity to the defense,” he said. “Because we got the best D-line – everybody can see that – and if we give them more opportunities down there, I don’t think anyone can just run the ball in on us.”
As passing yards compiled while Cousins challenged the middle of the Eagles’ defense, Edmunds alluded to adjustments eventually softening the blow, changes that conjured ways to slow the game down by securing tackles at the completion, keeping everything in front, to “get off the field as fast as we can.”
With the exception of cornerback Darius Slay and injured first-year starting safety Reed Blankenship – who Edmunds replaced – the secondary has seen fluidity through two games.
Second-year cornerback Josh Jobe, subbing for a concussed James Bradberry, played all 58 defensive snaps in his starting debut.
Goodrich, playing on defense for the first time in his second career appearance, accounted for 67% of the snap share.
Even Edmunds logged 53 snaps Thursday after mustering just 10 in the opener.
But when a play needed to be made, it was the unassuming veteran making his first Eagles start that turned the tide.
“I felt good,” Edmunds said. “I felt good going out there, just playing with my guys. You know, we practice together – being a guy that played before – it felt good to be out there on that grass.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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