There were two penalties and one sack, but a patchwork, and often maligned, offensive line decisively won the battle at the line of scrimmage during Sunday's 31-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons, protecting Kevin Kolb en route to a 300-yard passing day and paving the way for 154 total rushing yards.
With King Dunlap in for an injured Jason Peters at left tackle, the Eagles employed their fourth different starting offensive line of the season, and there was little to complain about.
"Unbelievable," said Kolb, "They really were. The one sack, that's my fault. Totally, my fault. In my mind, they gave up no sacks. Again, the running game. The way they've been able to patchwork guys in and out of there. For King to step up and do the job that he did. Not only that, the playcalling, just setting up certain things at certain times to help those guys out. Marty and the rest of the staff did a heck of a job with that kind of stuff. We always have confidence in whoever is out there."
"Lately, the offensive line has been playing excellent," added LeSean McCoy, who ran for 64 yards on 21 carries.
Shady's not far off. In pass protection, this was the third straight week in which the Eagles have allowed only a single sack. Many outside observers expected the Falcons pass-rush to create pressure on Kolb, especially with a matchup like Pro Bowl defensive end John Abraham against Dunlap, who was making the first start of his career. But Dunlap acquitted himself well, despite a 15-yard facemask penalty, and Kolb was affored plenty of time all afternoon long.
Dunlap has played sparingly as a mid-game fill-in before, but the mammoth, 6-9, tackle said that having a full week to practice with the first-team offense made a huge difference.
"It's definitely a big difference getting that full week of practice in," he said. "I've been playing right (tackle) this year. That's what I've been playing mainly during the week. I got a full week of practice at left (tackle) with the first team, taking reps with those guys ... I got a full week of reps, worked on my technique every day and doing extra work every day with (offensive line coach) Juan (Castillo). I felt a lot more comfortable out there today than I did last week just jumping in the game."
The cohesion along the offensive line was solid on the day, as Dunlap stepped in seamlessly next to left guard Todd Herremans.
"Playing with Todd and (center Mike) McGlynn is fun," Dunlap said. "I went out there and played my butt off for them really, not for myself, but to prove to them that I can come in and play and we don't miss a beat."
Herremans praised Dunlap, saying that big uglies up front had plenty of confidence in Dunlap, and that the left tackle "did very well against a good rusher." Also impressed was Dunlap's bookend, right tackle Winston Justice.
"I think he did well," Justice said of Dunlap. "It's very important when you have a full week of practice because you know that you're the guy and that's big for your mental psyche."
There's no time for rest for the offensive line, as they travel to Tennessee next Sunday to go up against a Titans defense that leads the league with 22 sacks, despite not having played their sixth game yet. At left tackle, Peters' status is still in question, so Dunlap could be in line for his second straight start. If he does get the call, Dunlap will be looking for a repeat performance.
"I felt like I had a pretty good game," he said. "We won. I try not to talk about how good or bad I played as long as we win the game. That's all that matters to me."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 7:46 p.m., October 17