Eagles' D Peaking at Super Height

The best team doesn't necessarily win the Super Bowl every year. A lot of times, it just matters who gets hot at the right time. 

Right now, the Eagles' defense is scorching. 

"I think everybody stepped their game up," Fletcher Cox said. "In the last couple weeks, I think everybody knew what type of situation we were in and what we had to do to make this team great." 

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In their two playoff games, the Eagles have given up just 17 points - 10 to the Falcons and just seven to the Vikings. 

It's not that the Eagles haven't shown the capability to play like this at times this season, but there were some rough spots. But as they prepare for Super Bowl LII against Tom Brady and the Patriots, the Eagles haven't given up more than 10 points in a game since Dec. 17. 

That Dec. 17 game was a 34-29 win over the hapless Giants. That game capped off a three-game road trip that was pretty tough on the Eagles' defense. The Eagles gave up an average of 18.4 points per game in the regular season, but gave up 24 points to the Seahawks, 35 to the Rams and 29 to the Giants - an average of 29.33 in three games. Even though the Eagles went 2-1 in that three-game stretch, there seemed to be plenty of questions about the defense. 

The Eagles, however, claim they were never concerned. 

"No, it was just Todd Gurley and Russell Wilson," Malcolm Jenkins said. "That's where we were. We played one of the best backs in the league and obviously one of the best quarterbacks in the league that create problems on the road. And even in that Rams game, when we needed it, the last few drives of the game, we got stops. We made adjustments in that game. It took us a while to get to them but we made them that helped us seal that game. 

"No, there's never been any concern about our defense and what direction we've been heading. We feel like we've dominated all year. Obviously, there's a few games here or there where teams got after us, but even in those games, we competed and got the stops we needed." 

Cox admitted the team had "a few breakdowns" during that three-game stretch and everyone, including himself, knew they could play better. He said it became a teaching tool and the unit has been able to correct those mistakes. 

In the four games - two regular season and two playoff - since that road trip, the Eagles have allowed just 33 points.

In the playoffs, their 8.5 points allowed per game is tops among teams who made the postseason. For comparison's sake, the Patriots have allowed 34 points in their two games. 

The Eagles will play their third playoff game in the Super Bowl, having given up just 17 points in their first two games. In the four other times they've played three games in the playoffs, the fewest amount of points they've given up came in 2004, when they gave up 48 points. 

No, the Eagles aren't the '85 Bears, who gave up just 10 points in three playoff games, but they are playing their best football when it counts. And it seems like they've been the best defense in the playoffs. 

"I think we're playing some of the best ball we've played," Jenkins said. "I think as the season's gone on, we've figured out what we do best. We've figured out what individual guys do best and how to manipulate the defense to always put us in good spots. And we've had to learn those lessons as the season goes on, the more people try to attack us in different ways. We learn stuff about the defense. So now, we feel like we're experts at our jobs individually, collectively."

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