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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – He was there, at the right place, at the right time, in the right game, making the right play in what will go down as one of the most iconic moments in Philadelphia sports history.
He was there again on Sunday, at the right place, at the right time, making the big play when the Eagles needed it.
Second-year Eagles’ defensive end Derek Barnett just has that habit.
In Super Bowl LII, it was Barnett that fell on a late fourth-quarter fumble caused by Brandon Graham that secured the Eagles’ 41-33 victory. On Sunday, with the Indianapolis Colts sitting at the Eagles’ 4-yard line with less than 2 minutes to play and driving for the go-ahead score, Barnett appeared again to sack Andrew Luck for a 16-yard that once again secured another big Eagles’ victory.
“Yeah, great play. This kid keeps getting better and better,” Eagles’ coach Doug Pederson said about Barnett. “I have been pleased with how he works in practice. He’s an unselfish ballplayer. He’ll play special teams if you ask him. He’ll rush the passer if you ask him.
“He does so many great things, and we’re so excited to have a player like Derek and a young player like Derek who can play extensively and work in the rotation. It just seems like somewhere in the game, 96 is going to show up and make a play, and he did that several times today.
Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles’ safety and one of the team leaders, keeps shaking his head in amazement each time Barnett does something big.
“He’s around the football and his effort is commendable,” said the Pro Bowl safety about Barnett. “He’s a star in the making and more and more he plays, the more comfortable he feels. He’s constantly making big plays and he’s going to make more.”
As for Barnett, he’d rather slink into the woodwork and away from the glare of the spotlight. It’s just the way he’s wired.
Staying in the shadows, however, may not be an option in the near future.
“I think Derek is a great player,” Eagles’ defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said in reference to Barnett’s progression as an elite edge pass-rusher. “I think the biggest thing is he understands the situation and knows what part of the field we’re in. You know, just doing his job.
“On that [Luck sack] play right there, he didn’t do anything special. He just did his job around the edge, and that’s why we brought him here to rush the quarterback. He did a good job today getting around the edge and got the quarterback on the ground in a critical situation.”
It’s just a habit Barnett seems to have.