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September 26, 2023

Eagles game ball: D'Andre Swift racks up highlight after highlight in prime time

Continuing with PhillyVoice's 'game ball' series, D'Andre Swift destroyed the Buccaneers, the Eagles' defensive line dominated and Britain Covey had his best return performance ever.

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DAndre-Swift-Eagles-Buccaneers-Hurdle Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA Today

Eagles running back D'Andre Swift hurdles Antoine Winfield Jr. during the team's Week 3 Monday Night Football win over the Buccaneers.

After a break between games that was entirely too long for the Delaware Valley, the Eagles improved to 3-0 with a Monday Night Football win over the Buccaneers. Following that victory, PhillyVoice is handing game balls out to the offense, defense and special teams. 

Here's more on the big nights from D'Andre Swift, that ferocious defensive front and Britain Covey...

 Offensive game ball: RB D'Andre Swift

In a recurring theme from the Nick Sirianni era, the Eagles destroyed an opponent in prime time with an overwhelming run game. The Birds totaled 201 yards on the ground against the Bucs with 130 of those coming from yet another huge performance by D'Andre Swift. 

Swift's rushing total isn't buoyed by a single home run-style big play. He consistently punished Tampa Bay over and over again, wearing them down completely. 

Swift had 16 carries. Here's the yardage for each:  8, 14, 13, 2, 2, 26, 9, 1, 5, 9, 8, 1, 29, 5, 6, 0

That includes zero negative plays, five first downs and multiple highlights that you'll see on social media for the rest of the week. 

The top one of the evening? It's no doubt Swift hurdling Antoine Winfield Jr. for a 26-yard pickup:

Shortly after, Swift had a short gain for a first down on a second and one. Winfield was there to "stop" Swift, trying to drive him backwards while celebrating in a faulty attempt to erase everyone's memory of him getting leaped over. It did not work. 

Coming off a 175-yard outing on Thursday Night Football in Week 2, Swift is the toast of his hometown currently. The Birds' all-time leading rusher is giving him props, too:

A potential rushing title for Swift? LeSean McCoy thinks so:

Swift's 308 rushing yards are the second most in the NFL currently, trailing only Christian McCaffrey (353 rushing yards). Imagine if he got more than one carry in Week 1...

Defensive game ball: The Eagles' entire defensive line

For the first time in this young season, I'm handing out a group game ball. No one single Eagle totally wrecked the Buccaneers' game. It was death by a thousand cuts with stars and role players taking turns and making it a hellacious night for Baker Mayfield, Rachaad White and Tampa Bay's front.

Nolan Smith laid the wood on Mayfield. Marlon Tuipulotu picked up his first sack of the season. Jordan Davis blew up the backfield on the team's safety. Jalen Carter and Fletcher Cox picked up half a sack each as well. Cox is playing at a level he hasn't reached in years. Carter is not just a "star in the making," as ESPN broadcaster Joe Buck stated. He is one right now. It's not hyperbolic to say he's been their best d-lineman so far in 2023 and he's flat-out been one of the best in the league

That's even before getting to the run game.

While Swift and the Birds pulverized Tampa Bay on the ground, the Eagles' D surrendered just 41 rushing yards on a woeful 2.4 yards per attempt. White totaled 73 yards and picked up a TD last week. That was a far cry from what played out at Raymond James Stadium on Monday night.

Mayfield is not Patrick Mahomes, nor is he Josh Allen, two upper-echelon QBs the Birds will face later this season. Give new defensive coordinator Sean Desai credit though. Mac Jones and Kirk Cousins put up gaudy stats in the first two weeks of 2023. Mayfield is throwing to the likes of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin while the Eagles are down their starting slot corner with injury issues at safety, too. James Bradberry stepped it way up taking over the nickel spot, Josh Jobe got the job done and this D didn't allow a touchdown until garbage time. That all starts up front.

"We still haven't played our best ball yet," Cox said while joining Scott Van Pelt on "SportsCenter" after the game.

That's a scary proposition for the rest of the NFL.

Special teams game ball: WR/PR Britain Covey

Britain Covey racked up 111 total return yards (three straight punts and the post-safety kick), including a 52-yard return that set up the Eagles' first scoring drive of the evening. The Eagles' special teams were a weak link in 2022 and ended up costing them big when it mattered the most. But it's different this season. Jake Elliott is as clutch as ever, and things could be on the upswing at punter with the addition of Braden Mann and Covey more than holding his own. 

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