There was a lot of attention paid to Panthers' defensive end Julius Peppers coming into the Eagles-Panthers season opener, but while Peppers played like a premier player, he wasn't the most disruptive defensive end on the field - that honor would go to Trent Cole.
Cole finished the game with four tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and a countless number of quarterback pressures. And it was Cole's burst through the middle of the Panthers' offensive line that led to the game-changing play of the day.
"I could tell (Delhomme) kind of froze, and I was like, this is over," said Cole about his sack and forced fumble that led to a Victor Abiamiri touchdown and gave the Eagles a lead they would never relinquish. "Going through the middle like that, the center blocked the other defensive end, so it created a hole and my eyes just lit up.
"I was like, Oh man, this is a freebie, I'll take him all day."
It was probably the last time all day that Cole would be unblocked. After a first half in which he spent enough time in the Panthers' backfield that he could have been charged rent, Cole was given extra attention.
"Towards the third quarter or the end of the second quarter I started seeing triple teams," Cole said, laughing. "I'm like, Oh my god, here we go."
Cole said it's a compliment to be such a focus for the offense, and he knows his job in those situations.
"I have to take it outside so I know that will free up a lot of other guys," he said. "Me being on the outside will allow (my teammates) to have one-on-one rushes in there and make plays."
Overall, Cole was thoroughly impressed with the destruction the defense was able to cause.
"We had a hell of a game," he said. "The secondary was big, a couple interceptions, as well as the interior.
"That was big, the interior was huge this game ... They kept that middle closed down and helped everybody make plays. We trust our linebackers, so we create havoc up front and the linebackers clean up."
Cole also said there was another, unexpected, factor that aided the defense against the Panthers in Charlotte, NC.
"I was surprised to see how many Eagles fans were at this Eagles game today," he said. "It was like, whenever we made a touchdown or had an interception, it was like the whole stadium came alive.
"It was real. Anybody who was at the stadium knows what I'm talking about. That stadium came alive when we made a play."
But Cole can't wait until next week when the defense can show off in front of the Philadelphia faithful.
"I wish we were back home when we were playing this game," he said. "There's no telling what it would have been like back home with the crowd."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 6:32 p.m., September 13