Fletcher Cox relished the extra time and showed he was ready for the added duty. The Eagles’ three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle was a destructive force Saturday in a 15-10 divisional playoff win over the Atlanta Falcons that vaulted his team into next Sunday’s NFC championship game.
Cox was tied for second on the Eagles with seven tackles against the Falcons. He had two tackles for losses, a sack and two quarterback hurries.
“I played a lot more than I normally play,” Cox said. “The thing was getting into a rhythm.”
Cox knew going into the game he would be getting more snaps.
“During this time of year you have to have your best players on the field,” Cox said. “I know I am in shape to play more snaps than I normally play.”
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) January 14, 2018
He said the coaches have done a good job of bringing him along and keeping him fresh for the postseason.
“Early in the year I limited my snaps, getting ready for this time of year,” he said. “I may have left the field for only four or five plays [Saturday], and I feel good right now.”
He wasn’t far off. Cox played 90 percent of the Eagles snaps. He was in on 57 of 63 plays.
Cox’s performance had an inspiring impact on his teammates.
“He is an awesome player, a top-10 player in this league and showed that today,” defensive end Chris Long said. “He is the kind of guy who can alter a game plan and wreck a game for an offense.”
Cox was frequently double-teamed to no avail.
“Nobody can block him one-on-one, and even if they double-team him they still can’t block him.” linebacker Nigel Bradham said. “That is why he is Fletcher Cox.”
The Pro Football Focus website gave Cox the highest grade on the Eagles team for his effort against the Falcons.
His 84.2 grade was just ahead of defensive end Brandon Graham’s 84.0 and offensive tackle Lane Johnson’s 82.5. The website added that the grades could be revised upon further review.
PFF gave Cox a 29.4 run stop percentage. The Falcons, who averaged 115.4 rushing yards per game in the regular season, were held to 86 net yards rushing.
Cox was especially impressed with how composed the Eagles defense was when Atlanta had a fourth-and-goal from the Eagles 2-yard line on what turned out to be the Falcons’ final offensive play. Matt Ryan threw an incomplete pass to Julio Jones with Jalen Mills covering the all-pro receiver.
“Everybody just did their job on that play, and it was the same thing we have been doing all game,” Cox said.
Despite being the top seed, the Eagles were a 3-point underdog to the sixth-seeded Falcons. Cox said that it provided another dose of motivation, not that he or the Eagles needed much more.
“It would fuel anybody,” he said. “If you feel disrespected, you have to take your respect. It is not given. You have to go out and take it.”
Cox did exactly that, and now he and his team are one win away from the Super Bowl.