Acquired from the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, Ajayi made an instant impact in his Philly debut, breaking off a 46-yard touchdown run as part of an eight-carry, 77-yard performance that helped the Eagles cruise past Denver, 51-23.
"It was special," Ajayi said afterwards. "First off, it's my first touchdown of the season, and it's exciting for it to have been in Philly in my first game as an Eagle. I don't think it could have been written any better than that."
The Eagles, now 8-1, entered the game as the third-ranked offense in the NFL. Still, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman stayed aggressive at the trade deadline and worked up a deal with old friend Mike Tannenbaum, who holds the same title with the Dolphins, sending a 2018 fourth-round pick to Miami for the 24-year-old Ajayi. While there were reported concerns about the long-term health of Ajayi's knee and his effect on Miami's locker room, the Eagles believed Ajayi could be a system and identity fit based on joint practices with the Dolphins this summer. They were willing to take a risk in hopes he would regain his 2016 Pro Bowl form when he rushed for close to 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns.
Ajayi’s longest run this season with the Dolphins was 21 yards, but he found his home run swing in his first game with his new team. Key blocks from left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, guard Stefen Wisniewski and center Jason Kelce helped open a massive hole along the left side late in the opening half. Ajayi showed the burst that the Eagles were eager to add to accelerate through it and finished the run with a dive over the pylon.
Even though the Eagles ranked fourth in rushing entering Week 9, there was no running back on the roster that possessed the type of playmaking potency Ajayi brings.
"A special offensive line. ...Great running back room. I am glad to be a part of the dynamic that we have in there," Ajayi said. "Look, that's a great defense that we just ran on. We put 200 yards on that team over there. I think you have to tip your hat to all of us that ran the ball today."
With him in the mix, the Eagles look even more formidable as NFC contenders. They have MVP candidate Carson Wentz, who threw four more touchdowns against the Broncos to up his total to 23, which leads the league. The Wentz-Alshon Jeffery connection (six catches, 84 yards, two TDs) is starting to heat up, Wentz proving he can keep the passing attack flying high even without the services of tight end Zach Ertz, who was out because of a hamstring injury. The Eagles got production from four different running backs Sunday, including LeGarrette Blount and rookie Corey Clement, who found the end zone twice for a combined total of 197 yards.
All of this came against the top-rated defense in football.
Add in the continued strong play of Jim Schwartz's defense (two takeaways, three sacks), and this appears to be the best team in football. They're feeling even better heading into their bye week with Ajayi now in the fold.