The Vikings came into South Philly with a highly-touted defense, one that impressed in wins over some of the best teams in the NFL and was ranked in the top two or three in every measurable category.
The Eagles defense — inconsistent, flashy and pretty ugly at times — came home after back-to-back miserable wins to lowly opponents clearly below their skill level with 5-0 Minnesota waiting.
But something interesting happened Sunday when the two clashed at Lincoln Financial Field. Actually something fascinating. The two went toe-to-toe as the Eagles and Vikings exchanged turnovers — five in the first quarter and eight overall in an even split, 4-4.
"We knew we'd have to basically go blow for blow with them to give our team an opportunity to win," Malcolm Jenkins, who recovered a key fumble in the game said. "In that first quarter it was pretty evident, they make a play we make a play."
"We came up with a couple turnovers and that shook them up a bit," Fletcher Cox said.
The Eagles defense seemed to get more comfortable as the game went on, holding on during key third downs, making up for penalties by playing even better when the redone plays were played and allowing just one touchdown, a garbage-time score with 30 seconds left with the game already in hand.
The 21-10 victory has the Eagles at 4-2 and back in the discussion as a contender in the NFC. And with the first place Cowboys next on the docket, the Eagles defensive unit as more confident than ever.
"To me, it's all about us," Jordan Hicks, who had his best game of the year Sunday with a sack, three tackles for loss and 11 total, said. "If we are doing what were supposed to be doing and playing the way we are supposed to be playing, I think we can be dominant against any team. That's just me. I have confidence in our guys. Not looking anywhere else but in this locker room."
The rest of his teammates in Jim Schwartz intimidating defense feel the same way. You can tell it from watching them play with an unstoppable motor and with opportunistic poise. You can also just ask them. They're not shy.
"We feel we are the best defense in the league," Jenkins said. "We didn't show that the last two weeks but we feel like we can be that."
"Obviously we think we are the best defense," agreed Rodney McLeod, who had an interception in the end zone and a forced fumble.