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Just How The D-Line Planned It

This is exactly how Jason Babin imagined it. When the free agent defensive end chose to re-sign with the Eagles late in July, he pointed, of course, to a reunion with defensive line coach Jim Washburn. But he also said that the Eagles' array of weapons on offense, led by Michael Vick, was a huge incentive.

"I wanted to go on a team that was not only winning, but had a high-powered offense," Babin said in his arrival press conference on July 30. "From a selfish and D-lineman point of view, if your guys are scoring points and you have Vick and all the other weapons in the backfield and the wide receivers, you're going to have to score a lot of points. The other team is going to have to throw the ball a lot to catch up, but guess what? We can rush the passer all day and be just like (Indianapolis Colts defensive ends) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis. That was another big incentive for me."

Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys, that's exactly how things worked for the Eagles. After jumping out to a 7-0 lead, the Eagles allowed the Cowboys to start at their own 45-yard-line, but two sacks on three plays forced a punt. The Eagles converted that possession into another touchdown, taking a 14-0 lead, and never looked back en route to a 34-7 route of the divisional-rival Cowboys.

"I give all the credit to the offense," Babin said after the game. "We didn't punt until the fourth quarter. When you have an offense that does that, they did it. They put the weight on their shoulders and said, 'We're going to win this game.'

"I actually told Michael (Vick), I said 'Mike, this is what I've been asking for.' He said, 'I can't promise you every week, but we're going to give it to you.' When you're a lineman, you can't ask for anything more than getting a big lead and being able to rush the passer."

Now, Babin, who notched another 2.0 sacks on the evening, bringing his total to 9.0 on the season, also had something, or rather someone, else working in his favor against the Cowboys - the return of running mate Trent Cole, who had missed two games with a calf injury.

"They both feed off of each other," defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said of the Babin and Cole tandem. For his part, Cole registered another sack of his own, bringing his season tally to 4.0. "I said earlier that there's 100 percent, and then there's Jason-Babin and Trent-Cole percent. They're special. They're trying to beat each other to see who has more sacks, it's relentless. I think what happens is when one of them looks over at the other one, they give each other, if that's possible to say, they give each other more energy."

After a 4.0-sack night, the Eagles now have 22 sacks on the season. All but three of those sacks have come with Cole in the lineup. With Cole back, and with everyone rested from the bye week, the defensive line was able to utilize Washburn's famous rotation, which allows the pass rushers to remain fresh. When Cole was out and players like Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp were banged up, the defensive line grew weary as the games went on. Against the Cowboys, all eight active defensive linemen were able to contribute.

One of those linemen, defensive tackle Trevor Laws, notched his second sack of the season on that opening Cowboys drive - an important play that set the stage for the Eagles offense to dominate the remainder of the game.

"I think you could see it out there in just waves of guys coming in off the field," said Laws. "I didn't get tired once the whole game.

"Coming into the game, we were like, hopefully we can shut the run down early, get a couple touchdowns so we can be able to rush the passer all game. We're sitting there late in the first quarter thinking, 'Oh man, this is exactly what we wanted to happen. Now let's get after it.' And I think we left a ton of sacks on the field still, but it was good how the game played out."

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