Dawkins: "This is who we are"

The Eagles defense has been a key part of the turnaround for the Philadelphia Eagles. Their leader, Brian Dawkins, hasn't been surprised by how the defense has stiffened to help lead the Eagles.

Just when it looked like the Eagles inability to stop the run would be their undoing, they held Tiki Barber and the New York Giants to 88 yards in a 36-22 win that has revitalized their playoff hopes and has put them in position to win the NFC East if they beat Dallas and Atlanta in their final two games.

The Eagles had given up 200-plus yards in four of their previous six games and hadn't held a team under 100 rushing yards since the sixth game of the season. But a week after getting gashed for 210 yards in a win over the Washington Redskins, the Eagles neutralized the dangerous Barber for the second time this season.

In Week 2, they held Barber to 51 yards on 21 carries, but blew a 24-7 fourth-quarter lead and lost in overtime, 30-24. Sunday, after giving up an 11-yard touchdown run to Barber on the Giants' first possession, they closed the between-the-tackles interstate that had allowed their previous six opponents to rush for 1,119 yards and average 5.25 yards per carry.

They held Barber to 75 yards on 19 carries and the Giants to 88 yards on 22.

"It's great man, great," said middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. "We started off kind of rocky, but we made some adjustments and the whole defense played very well."

Said free safety Brian Dawkins: "This is the way we played early in the year. This is what was inside of us. The other team that kept showing up other weeks, we didn't recognize that team. This is who we are."

Who they are is a team that gave up 22 first downs and 358 yards to the Giants, but allowed just two touchdowns. Who they are is a team that forced four Giant turnovers, upping their total to nine takeaways in the last four games.

The win over the Giants was the Eagles' third in a row, and improved their record to 8-6. They had opened the season with four wins in their first five games, but then dropped five of their next six.

"The guys on this team never give up," said running back Brian Westbrook, who went over 100 rushing and receiving yards for the eighth straight game. "It's kind of a cliché, Everyone says; 'We're fighters, we're fighters, we're fighters.' But on this team, we really are. We don't have any quit in us and we play hard until the end. Coach always has said, 'You never know what's going to happen. Keep fighting. Stay strong. Stay together. Stay focused.' And we'd done all those things, and now, we're fighting to try to get into the playoffs."

Head coach Andy Reid knows that Dawkins is a fighter. Reid called Dawkins' game on Sunday as "possibly the best I've ever seen him play."

If the Eagles beat the 9-5 Cowboys on Monday in Dallas, they would take over first place in the division by virtue of two wins over the Cowboys. They then would be able to clinch the division if they beat the Falcons in their final regular-season game.

Notes From The ‘Nest:

  • CB William James was a last-minute scratch Sunday when he strained his calf in pre-game warm-ups. His status for Monday's game against the Cowboys is uncertain.
  • LB Shawn Barber didn't play Sunday. He missed practice all week with a neck stinger. The Eagles are hopeful he'll be able to play next week.
  • S Mike Lewis suffered an MCL sprain in his knee Sunday and couldn't finish the game. He's questionable for next week's game.
  • DT Brodrick Bunkley saw his most extensive action in weeks against the Giants. He took about a dozen snaps, mostly on passing downs.

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