JACKSONVILLE– It didn't take Darryl Tapp long to make an impact in his first game of the 2010 season.
Tapp, who had been inactive for the first two games of the season, got his first snap of the season at right end on the Eagles' first defensive series and proceeded to blow by Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe and sack David Garrard.
"I was happy to get in there and contribute," Tapp said. "You work hard and you want to get out there and contribute and I was able to get the opportunity today."
The Jaguars had been moving the ball on the drive – perhaps better than they did all day long - going from their own 10-yard-line to around midfield when Tapp took down Garrard to kill the drive's momentum.
It was one of many plays indicative of the defense's mettle on the day. The Eagles defense held the Jaguars to three points in the first half, impressive when you consider the Jaguars offense was twice given a starting position around midfield.
And Tapp wasn't the only non-starter to impress on the day. Defensive tackle Trevor Laws had a drive-ending sack (his first career sack) in the second quarter, a tackle for a loss, and twice tipped passes at the line. There was even a play in the first quarter when Laws dropped into coverage and patrolled the middle of the field, leaping in the air as a Garrard pass sailed over his head toward incompletion.
"This is how we feel we should play," Laws said. "The rotation we have, every guy comes in and can play like a starter."
Then there was Juqua Parker, who, displaced by Brandon Graham as the starting left defensive end, has been the most productive player on the defensive line on a per play basis. Parker notched his fourth sack of the season on Sunday, showing again that he can take advantage of his limited reps by going all-out on each snap.
The rotation "was very important because we knew it was going to be hot and we weren't used to the heat," Parker said. "It's exciting for us because as a group, we're pretty tight. We enjoy it. We sit over on the bench, whoever gets a sack, we enjoy it to the fullest."
"I can't say enough about how the defensive line played today," said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. "I think they challenged themselves more than anything. They're guys that have a lot of pride in their work. They're blue-collar guys and they came out and established the line of scrimmage early and that's what you have to do with a physicall football team like Jacksonville."
To be fair, the superstars on defense weren't exactly quiet. Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel picked up his first interception of the season in the third quarter when he broke early on a Garrard pass toward the sideline intended for Mike Sims-Walker. And Pro Bowl defensive Trent Cole? He only had two sacks, both coming on the same series in the fourth quarter.
"We came out here and practiced very hard this week, I could see it in everybody's eyes," Cole said. "We had one goal in mind, to come into this game and win. This is where we need to be at. A lot of guys did a great job on both the defense and offense. You can't ask for more."
The Jaguars came into the contest eager to establish running back Maurice Jones-Drew and the running game. And while Jones-Drew's numbers look solid – 88 yards on 22 carries - the Eagles stopped him when they needed to. More importantly, they absolutely hammered Garrard and suffocated the Jaguars' passing game. On the day, Garrard was 13-of-30 for a paltry 105 yards. Combined with the yards lost on sacks, that's a net passing of 54 yards for the Jaguars, the lowest the Eagles have allowed since September 23, 2001, when the Eagles held Matt Hasselbeck and the Seattle Seahawks to 21 net passing yards.
And speaking of the Seahawks, Tapp, who was traded from Seattle to Philadelphia in the off-season, is pretty happy about the Eagles' one-game lead on the three other teams in the NFC East.
"I haven't been in first place in about three years," Tapp said. "So I'm happy where we are now, but we have to continue to get better."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 9:56 p.m., September 26