The Philadelphia Eagles successfully began the defense of their Super Bowl championship in large measure because their defense came up big in Thursday night’s 18-12 victory against the Atlanta Falcons.

The biggest moments for the Eagles’ D were in the red zone, where they made a huge goal-line stand, a huge turnover, and a stop to seal the win at the end of the game.

‘We kept the yards down, we kept the points down’

“We always talk about red zone,” defensive end Chris Long told SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Jim Miller. “We kept the yards down, we kept the points down. I don’t think they rushed for a hundred yards. And we largely kept (star receiver) Julio (Jones) at bay.

“But even so, all those things, it felt like sometimes they were moving the ball really well. If not for our red-zone defense, that game’s a lot different. And at the end, it comes down to two-minute and red zone.”

‘Nothing we did last year matters and that’s been kind of our mantra’

It also came down to the Eagles showing excellent focus. There were plenty of potential distractions, with the dropping of the Super Bowl banner and team owner carrying the Lombardi Trophy to midfield during pregame ceremonies, along with quarterback Carson Wentz and other players being sidelined with injuries.

“We’ve got that type of team,” Long said. “Nothing we did last year matters and that’s been kind of our mantra throughout this whole training camp. I think guys have gotten sick of hearing about it. Because it’s a set up. You’re asked about it and then you talk about it, and people are like, ‘Hey, they’re still talking about the Super Bowl.’ And it’s like, ‘You know, well, people like to talk about the Super Bowl. Not us, we’re here to work.’

‘We have to be a whole new team’

“And this is a night where we can build character to becoming a new team. Because what we don’t want to be is try to be last year’s team. We have to be a whole new team.”

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