Philadelphia Eagles: Claiming D.J. Alexander off waivers has majorly paid off

(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) /

After being a waiver wire claim back in September, D.J. Alexander made arguably the play of the game to keep the Philadelphia Eagles’ playoff hopes alive.

Over the first 14 games of the Philadelphia Eagles 2018 season, you’d have been hard-pressed to find a fan who recognized the name D.J. Alexander and for a good reason.

Originally a fifth-round pick out of Oregon State, Alexander bounced around the league before finding his way to South Philly earlier this year, appearing in games for the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks since he entered the league in 2015.

A textbook example of a bottom of the roster effort guy, Alexander has remained steadily employed for five straight season due to his ability to get up and down the field on special teams, even if his contributions at his chosen position, linebacker, have remained seldom at best.

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He even made a Pro Bowl back in 2016, earning a spot alongside as Matthew Slater, Tyreek Hill, and Morgan Cox as a designated special teamer.

And in Week 15, Alexander’s special teams experience helped to keep the Eagles’ postseason hopes alive, even if the gravity of his contributions hardly made a mark on the game’s box score.

After watching Sean McVay‘s Los Angeles Rams squad march down the field and score a huge touchdown to move within seven points of a tied game, the Eagles where unable to put together an extended drive to keep the run out the clock, and were unfortunately forced to punt the ball away from their own 15 with a little over three minutes left to play.

Bad news right? Well, after three months of horrible luck and bad juju, the football gods finally smiled down on the Birds from Philly and gifted the team a sliver of hope for another trip to the postseason.

On what should have been a routine punt return, Jojo Natson rumbled the ball at his own 36 and watched helplessly as Alexander scooped up the ball to keep the Eagles hopes alive.

The results of the play? A 53-yard net gain for the Eagles (their longest of the game) that allowed Doug Pederson‘s squad to tick the clock down to 73 seconds where a go-ahead field goal could have put the game out of hand once and for all.

Great, right?

Now granted, Jake Elliott did miss said field goal, which made the final minute of action a little too close for comfort, but had it not been for Alexanders’ heroics, does anyone really believe that Jim Schwartz‘s defense would have been able to keep the Rams out of the end zone, even after they’d played out of their collective minds over the first three-quarters of the game?

The Rams almost scored with a minute left to play after the missed field goal, and probably would have had they had a few timeouts left on the board.

No, had it not been for Alexander, it’s entirely possible that the City of Brotherly Love would collectively be hanging their heads at the moment in shame over a wasted season, as opposed to the current state of renewed optimism reminiscent of January’s historic postseason run.

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So the next time someone tells you that special teams don’t matter, just remember that in all likelihood the Philadelphia Eagles playoff hopes would have been all but squelched without a single game-changing recovery by D.J. Alexander, a waiver wire claim with less than 1,000 Twitter followers. Imagine that.