The Eagles marvel at Lin Johnson’s playoff toughness

By the time reporters poured into the Eagles’ locker room late Saturday night, Len Johnson was fully clothed, head down, and making a bee line for the run out.

Even after playing an entire game with a sore groin injury, Johnson has been a pessimist as he walks away from the media.

His game is enough talk anyway.

And Johnson’s teammates were more than happy to show him off.

“He’s a warrior,” said Galen Hurtz. “He’s a real warrior and a very important piece of this team. He’s been doing great things for a very long time, and I’m so grateful to have him around. We’re grateful to have him around and I’m glad he came out of this thing kind of clean.”

Johnson, 32, made his comeback in the Eagles’ 38-7 victory over the Giants in the playoff round. It was his first action in the game since he suffered a torn adductor muscle on Christmas Eve against the Cowboys.

By the way, this confidant is still torn. It still hurts. He’ll still need surgery to repair his hip when the Eagles season comes to a close, Parade or not.

But Johnson made the selfless decision to delay that surgery in an effort to hand a second Super Bowl to Philadelphia. This sacrifice means everything to his teammates.

“It means the world, man,” said fellow striker Jordan Melata. “She means the world. Sacrificing his body for the boys. Just being selfless and getting out there as fast as you can. Then this week, when he said, ‘I’m ready to go,’ I was like, ‘Crazy.’ He looked great in practice and looked great.” Tonight. He’s a machine.”

Johnson missed the final two games of the regular season and then rested during the wild card round after the Eagles won that number one seed and bye week.

On Saturday night Johnson played 67 offensive snaps before the Eagles pulled the Hurts and some offensive linemen late in the game. Early Saturday night, Johnson was seen looking uncomfortable and even grabbing his injured groin. But he stayed in the game. And he played very well.

According to ProFootballFocus, Johnson had 26 shots in pass protection and didn’t give up a single pressure.

There’s no doubt that the Eagles’ offense is a very different animal with Hurts slim and Johnson in the lineup, something the Eagles haven’t been scrambling for in the regular season.

Since the start of the 2016 season (including the playoffs), the Eagles are 60-29-1 with Johnson in the lineup and 10-22 without him.

“Lane is clearly the best tackle in the NFL, so having him back and shutting down one side, that’s huge,” said head coach Nick Siriani. “It was great to have him back. He makes us go. This whole offensive line makes us go.”

The Eagles Saturday night rushed to 268 yards (6 yards shy of a franchise record) behind the power of their star-studded offensive line. The team only surrendered one sack throughout the game.

It didn’t really look like he was running the football on Saturdays. it worked. Kenny Ginnuel had 112 yards and a touchdown, Miles Sanders had 90 and Boston Scott had 32 yards and a touchdown. It hurts at 34 and subsides on its own.

The reason the Eagles could run the ball so effectively was because of their offensive line. And Johnson’s return on Saturday was a big part of that.

“You shouldn’t say too much,” said Dallas Goodert. “He is the best right tackle in the game last year. Having him there is clearly a plus for us.”

It was heartening that Johnson held out the entire game on Saturday. Next week, the Eagles will need Johnson again. This time, he will face DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons or Nick Bosa.

It won’t be easy.

But Johnson is about as tough as they come. And this was not lost on his teammates.

“It’s tough out there, man,” said Genwell. “For him to fight through an injury that put him out for a minute, he decided he wanted to come back. That’s just big there. It just shows the strength of this team. All the guys working so hard just to make sure we get the win.”

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