The efforts of Canadian linebacker Alex Singleton weren’t going unnoticed by Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson prior to his pick-six on Sunday Night Football.
It’s Singleton’s second season in Philly and he’s been earning the trust of the coaching staff while moving up from the practice squad to the active roster.
“In Alex’s case, he’s the unsung hero. He’s a four core special teams player, he’s a backup role player on defence and he just battles,” Pederson said in his post-game video conference.
“He comes to work every day, he’s always in a great mood, he’s excitable, guys rally around him. I was happy for him to get that pick-six. A great play by him.”
With less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Philly leading 18-14, San Francisco quarterback Nick Mullens was intercepted by Singleton who returned the football 30 yards to the end zone. He found the showtime camera and celebrated his first career NFL touchdown with his Eagles teammates.
“He threw the ball right to me. My heart skipped a beat, I caught it, just went with it and knew I had to get in the end zone. We talk about it all week to score on defence, so it was the only thing going through my mind,” Singleton said.
“We’ve emphasized it the last couple weeks. The ball wasn’t going our way. It’s something we’ve been talking about for weeks and it all clicked, finally got some turnovers to go our way.”
Starting middle linebacker T.J. Edwards suffered a hamstring injury, he left the game and did not return. That provided the opportunity for Singleton to take his first reps on defence in a regular season NFL game. It was a while in the making for the 26-year-old who went unselected in the 2015 NFL draft.
“It’s been a long time to get to the point where I get any defensive snaps — my first time in the league was six years ago. To be able to make a play for this team is what you do it for, as much as you enjoy it for yourself, I’m happy this team won,” Singleton said.
“It’s huge to get this win for the team and be a part of it. Coach always talks about next man up and you don’t want to be the weak link, you want to be the strong link. To be able to do my job is the most important thing for this team.”
The Montana State University product spent the 2015 season bouncing between practice squads with Seattle, New England and Minnesota. He was selected by Calgary in the first round, sixth overall of the 2016 CFL draft. The six-foot-two, 240-pound defender quickly displayed his playmaking prowess, earning two CFL all-star nods and claimed the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award in 2017.
“It’s so big, I’m so happy for him — he’s had a long journey. For him to get that on a turnaround and get that interception and score, that was so big for this time,” starting strong safety Jalen Mills said.
“The dude works extremely hard, not only on special teams, but he got his opportunity on the field and he made the most of it. That’s not going to go unseen by the coaches, I’m thinking he’s going to get a little bit extra playing time now.”
The Eagles entered the game 0-2-1 and the pressure was on against the defending NFC champion 49ers. Quarterback Carson Wentz had just connected with receiver Travis Fulgham for a 42-yard go-ahead touchdown. Two plays later, Singleton was flying into the end zone. That clinched the 25-20 victory, Philadelphia’s first win of the season.
“I haven’t scored a touchdown since my junior year of college. It’s exciting just to be part of it,” Singleton said.
“You gotta get one, it’s hard to get a win in this league. To be able to put it on our defence’s shoulders and push through it was huge.”