By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — Think about where the Eagles would be right now without the play of the special teams. They wouldn’t be 4-1 and there’s no way that they would have even been close in the one game they lost.
On Sunday, just 23 seconds into the game, the Eagles’ special teams showed once again why it’s the best special teams unit in the NFL right now, notching a franchise first by scoring three special teams touchdowns in three-straight games.
A James Casey blocked punt enabled Chris Maragos to score his first NFL touchdown and give the Eagles a quick 7-0 lead. The Eagles became the first team in the NFL to block punts for touchdowns in consecutive games since the 2002 Baltimore Ravens.
Eagles’ special teams coach Dave Fipp seems to have a knack for calling the right plays at the right time. This time, Casey and Trey Burton, who blocked a punt last week against San Francisco that resulted in a touchdown, bulled through Rams’ long snapper Jake McQuaide.
McQuaide had little choice what to do. He blocked Burton, freeing up Casey to rip through the middle and block Johnny Hekker’s punt at the Rams’ 10.
“It was a great call by Coach Fipp, it was a great scheme rush,” Casey said. “They do a lot of different formations on the punt team, and normally a lot of teams don’t do that kind of stuff. If they’re going to do that, we’re going to rush them early on and get them out of it. We knew they were vulnerable to the rush with different formations than normal. Burton came hard, we all came really hard. The center and guard both got [Bryan] Braham and I had no one on me. That allowed me to come up the middle.”
The Eagles now have a punt return for a touchdown and two-straight weeks of blocked punts that were converted into touchdowns.
“We know we have a target on our backs [with special teams], and now we have to just keep getting better and better,” Casey said. “I never blocked before at any level. You don’t see it happen a ton. Once you do once, they’re going to be scheming for it.”
Casey said what makes the Eagles’ unit special are players like players like Maragos, Brandon Graham, Nolan Carroll and Braham going all out.
“It’s a confidence thing, and once you see guys making plays, you want to go out and do something special,” Casey said.
Maragos scored his first NFL touchdown. He kept the ball nearby and said he was even thinking about giving it away to a teammate.
“It’s because my teammates put me in a great position and it was really them that made the play,” Maragos said. “We don’t try to make big plays. We try to do our job. When you get 11 guys that really care, and are trying to do their job great on any given plays, eventually those big plays happen. We want to be accountable and good things are happening.
“There is a pride thing involved. Coach Fipp has done a great job putting us in a great position. You have 11 guys that believe and good things happen. I might give the ball away, just because James Casey made a play, Malcolm Jenkins could have picked it up, but he saw I had a clear path to the end zone. I think that shows how our team is. He clearly could have picked it up. He saw me running and he allowed me to pick it up.”
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