PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles re-signed Orlando Scandrick last week in hopes he could provide some veteran steadiness and consistency to an injury-riddled secondary.
He gave them so much more Sunday.
Scandrick was the leader of the defense, registering two of the team’s 10 sacks and scoring a touchdown on a strip/sack in a 31-6 victory over the New York Jets.
“He understands (what’s expected),” coach Doug Pederson said. “He’s a veteran player, so I didn’t have to have any conversations with him. He just kind of fit in and did exactly what (defensive coordinator) Jim (Schwartz) dialed up. It was great to see the effort he had.”
Scandrick, 32, is in his 12th NFL season. He spent 10 years with Dallas and played last season with Kansas City. He signed with the Eagles as a free agent during training camp, only to be released at the end of the preseason in favor of cornerbacks Ronald Darby, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas.
When Jones (hamstring) and Maddox (concussion) were hurt in last week’s 34-27 win at Green Bay, the Eagles brought Scandrick back a day later.
He watched the first four weeks of the NFL season at home in Los Angeles, watching games on TV.
“It was a humbling experience just being at home for those four weeks,” Scandrick said.
He made the most of his second chance with the Eagles.
His two sacks were just a half-sack short of his season-high in that category, which he set in 2010 with the Cowboys. That was also the last time he scored a touchdown. It was so long ago that Peyton Manning was still with Indianapolis when Scandrick intercepted him and scored on a 40-yard return.
He made an almost immediate impact against the Jets on Sunday. The 5-foot-10, 196-pounder stormed into the backfield on a blitz and dumped Jets quarterback Luke Falk in the first quarter.
“I should get some pointers from him on blitzing and getting sacks,” safety Rodney McLeod said. “He really showed up big for us.”
He delivered a huge play in the fourth quarter.
Scandrick came off the edge on another blitz and headed toward Falk. Instead of wrestling him to the ground, he ripped the football out of Falk’s hands and took off for the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown.
“I was just finishing the play and not being satisfied with just the sack,” Scandrick said.
Linebacker Nathan Gerry also scored a defensive touchdown for the Eagles, returning an interception 51 yards in the first quarter.
The Eagles thus became the first team in NFL history with at least 10 sacks, a fumble recovery TD and an interception return TD in the same game.
It was the first time they had fumble recovery and interception TDs in the same game since Nov. 12, 1990, against Washington.
“It felt incredible (to score),” Gerry said. “The last time I had a defensive touchdown was my senior year at (Washington High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota).”
Defensive end Brandon Graham set up Gerry’s pick-6 by pressuring Falk into throwing away the ball. Graham also had a career-high three sacks.
That was part of a great overall effort by a defense that had been maligned in the first three games.
“Everybody brought the energy today, and everybody was excited,” Graham said. “Now we have to keep it going.”