The Eagles defense dominated so thoroughly from start to finish in the Eagles' 45-21 romping of the Carolina Panthers that it's hard to identify a standout play or turning point. From the fumble forced by Casey Matthews on the second play of the game to Brandon Graham's sack of Cam Newton to force one final punt late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles defense showed on a national stage that they are very much for real.
In all, Bill Davis' crew totaled an astounding nine sacks (the most for an Eagles defense since September of 2008 against Pittsburgh) and forced five turnovers (three interceptions and two fumbles). The depth of the dominance was such that 10 players on the defense accounted for either a sack or a turnover on the night.
Outside linebacker Connor Barwin led the way with 3.5 sacks, the second-highest total of his career, giving him 10.5 on the season (tied for second in the NFL). Cornerback Bradley Fletcher scored the first touchdown of his career on an interception return in the second quarter.
To pick out one play above the others, though, we turned to the members of the defense themselves. So the question was posed to the defense in the locker room following the win: What was your favorite play of the night?
Outside linebacker Connor Barwin: "The happiest moment for me tonight was definitely Fletcher Cox getting his sack. That's what's good about our group up front, I know that guys are happy for me, but for me the best part of the night was Fletcher finally getting one because he's been so close so many times this year."
Outside linebacker Brandon Graham: "Favorite play? I guess when I had my (tackle for loss) in the back when I first got in. That was one of my favorite plays because people always talk about that Brandon can't stop the run, so I'm just trying to stop that run as much as I can."
Linebacker Marcus Smith II: "No. 1 play? I think the No. 1 play was when Connor got his second sack of the game, I think that was the No. 1 play, because he ran (Cam Newton) down and he just made it look like it was easy. I think Connor's sack is what did it for me."
Defensive tackle Beau Allen: "I really like, I think it was Brandon Graham who came up with the sack eventually, but you had Connor jumping over linemen trying to get there. I think just relentless pursuit by everybody on that one fumble that B.G. caused. I think it was just really cool to watch that play develop. You see Connor jumping over guys to get to the ball, everybody straining to get to the ball. I think that was kind of our mentality, our M.O."
Outside linebacker Trent Cole: "I don't really have one play. I don't have a play. I don't. I seriously don't have one. It was just multiple plays. We just killed 'em."
Cornerback Nolan Carroll II: "Oh man, Brad. The pick-six. He read it, went right there for the pick-six. I'm happy for him, man, because some people have been giving him slack about not catching the ball. For him to come out on a big stage like this and get a pick-six on national television, that was the biggest turnover, I thought, that I was happy with. For our group, the DBs, I'm glad he was able to get on board with that."
Safety Malcolm Jenkins: "Bradley Fletcher scoring a touchdown because we always talk about him getting his hands on the ball and he finally got one."
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks: "Favorite play? I would have to say I liked watching Bradley Fletcher today. Ball being thrown, I'm running, so you're just seeing it coast. Cam was chucking 'em up today and, yeah, just going up there and watching Bradley play. Cary (Williams) had a really good pick too, a line drive and he took it. That was nice. We just played well, man, I can't really say which play was my favorite. The team played well. I'm glad that we played well."
Cornerback Cary Williams: "I'm going to go with Brad Fletcher's pick-six. Definitely."
Cornerback Brandon Boykin: "On defense? Man, there were so many. I would probably say Fletch's pick-six, I think that was great. Great pressure up front, great job by him catching the ball first and getting into the end zone. We've been kind of needing that. We (as cornerbacks) have been kind of in a drought, so to speak, so that's kind of opened the door for us. It's good."
Cornerback Bradley Fletcher: "All the sacks up front."
Not the first touchdown of your career, Bradley?
"As a secondary player, I want myself to help out as much as I can, but I always give credit to those guys up front because if it wasn't for the pressure up front we couldn't make the plays that we make."