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Two-interception game caps memorable week for Philadelphia Eagles corner Darius Slay

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- During his news conference following Sunday's come-from-behind 21-18 win over the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was asked about one of his key late-game runs. But Hurts had something else entirely on his mind, and directed the conversation to it.

"I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about how the defense played. How Darius Slay came out, added another munchkin to the bunch this week, came out here and got two picks," he said.

That was a concise summary of a chaotic and memorable week for Slay. The cornerback's wife gave birth to their son, Desmond Demetrius, on Thursday -- the couple's fifth child together. Understandably busy, Slay missed Thursday's practice and wasn't able to dedicate as much time to preparation as he normally would.

All he did was come out and have his best game in an Eagles uniform. He intercepted quarterback Sam Darnold twice and limited the Panthers' DJ Moore, one of the most productive wide receivers in the league, to five catches for 42 yards. It was the 30-year-old Slay's first game with multiple interceptions since Week 15 of 2017.

"Shout out to my teammates because a lot of times I couldn't go to practice," he said. "I didn't get any reps, just walking through, Zoom calls, my baby boy was born. Rod [Rodney McLeod], Ant [Anthony Harris], all the DB guys, I told them, 'I'm going to need everyone today.' I prepared as much as I could. I leaned on those guys. We cover each other. I appreciate them boys for having my back out there and putting me in position to make the plays that I made."

Slay has been solid if unspectacular since the Eagles acquired him from the Detroit Lions in 2020 for third- and fifth-round picks, then signed him to a three-year, $50 million contract. He has frequently been asked to shadow the opposition's top receiver and isn't targeted as much as other corners, but had only one interception through 19 games with the Eagles. Quarterbacks had been completing 75% of their passes when throwing in his direction. On Sunday, he looked more like the shutdown corner he was in Detroit, earning him one of the better nicknames in the NFL.

"That's 'Big Play Slay,' that's what he do," said rookie receiver DeVonta Smith. "He went out there and he made plays."

Slay showed his value as a veteran leader as well. Following Smith's third-quarter fumble, Slay went up to him on the sideline and told him, "S--- happens, keep your head up", "You're a playmaker" and "We're for you, as a team, as a unit."

Smith finished with seven catches for 77 yards and a two-point conversion following the Eagles' go-ahead touchdown.

"He said let it go," Smith said, "and that's what I did."

The Eagles are now 2-3. It's been a roller-coaster ride on both sides of the ball, with each unit taking turns dominating and being dominated. The defense is the more experienced unit of the two. If one unit is going to stabilize and become the more reliable partner, it's the defense. As one of the secondary's best players, Slay is key to making that happen.

There's no rest for Papa Slay. Tom Brady and the Bucs come to town on Thursday night (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network).