Malcolm Jenkins: 'We think we're the No. 1 defense in this league' - ESPN
And so, Jim Schwartz's group challenged itself.
"We wanted to be the better defense out there," said Brandon Graham, who finished the game with five quarterback hits and a sack. "We wanted to match their intensity. That was the whole thing. That's what we talked about: Let's be the best defense out there today."
In order to accomplish that mission, the Eagles needed to turn up the heat. Entering Week 7, they blitzed opposing quarterbacks 14 percent of the time, the lowest rate in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In their previous three games combined, they totaled just 13 blitzes. Schwartz nearly matched that number in 60 minutes Sunday, as he dialzed up 12 blitzes for a rate of 25.5 percent.
Schwartz dials up blitzes and defense roars - Inquirer
Schwartz doesn't typically like to blitz. But the Eagles needed a jolt after a woeful defensive outing against the Redskins last week. And Bradford and the offensive line-hobbled Vikings offered the perfect opportunity for Schwartz to dig into his bag of pressures.
"You kind of know going into the game that they're going to come after Bradford," said Zimmer, who is renowned for his blitz packages. "I didn't go to Harvard, but I can probably figure that out."
Any Given Sunday: Eagles Over Vikings - Football Outsiders
In this game, [T.J. Clemmings] was completely overmatched. Clemmings was the primary culprit on Bradford's interception, barely even slowing down Brandon Graham on his way to Bradford. You would have hoped for a bigger leap from the second-year player, but he's still not on his way to being even an average tackle.
There's a lot of blame to go around in this one for the Vikings, though. More of it needs to go to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. After the bye week, the Vikings gave Bradford more deep dropbacks, trying to emphasize the long ball in place of the precision short-passing shotgun game that had served them well in the early season. This was a classic case of over-tinkering. Even if Turner would prefer to play that way, it simply doesn't suit the strengths of his offense.
Vikings' Bradford feels 'D' pressure from Eagles - Daily News
When they did blitz, they weren't particularly effective. Opponents had a 112.9 passer rating and a 68.9 completion percentage when the Eagles sent extra rushers. Just two of the Eagles' 14 sacks in their first five games came off of blitzes.
But on Sunday, Schwartz unleashed the hounds. The Eagles harassed Bradford with a four-man rush and they harassed him with an effective assortment of zone blitzes.
"We started with a four-man rush, then we started blitzing because they started bringing in more protection," defensive end Connor Barwin said. "Jim was on top of everything today. He was a step ahead of what they were doing."
"Jim put in a few curveballs in the game plan to help us get after the quarterback a little bit more,'' defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. "I thought we did a great job of timing the blitzes up. Also, the four-man pass rush really got there today."