ST. LOUIS -- The Rams were driving down the field with relative ease, looking to take a lead at home with the score tied 7-7. Then, on the 10th play of a drive that began at their 18-yard-line, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford rolled left, stumbled, and was met head-on by Eagles defensive end Darryl Tapp.
Tapp, with help from the Rams tight end assigned to block him, jarred the ball loose, allowing Juqua Parker to swoop in, scoop up the ball and promptly run 56 yards untouched, except for a stiff arm of teammate Moise Fokou, for a touchdown, giving the Eagles a 14-7 lead they would never relinquish.
"I'm not quite sure (if I hit the hand or the ball)," Tapp said. "I know I got my hands on the tight end and then I was able to get my hands out there and knock it out."
It was, without a doubt, the turning point of the game as it forced the Rams to lean heavier on their passing game in lieu of what had been an effective rushing game, allowing the Eagles defense to attack. In all, the Eagles would notch 5.0 sacks in addition to Tapp's forced fumble.
"It was big because it allowed us to calm down," said Nnamdi Asomugha after his first game as an Eagle. "At first, after that first (Steven Jackson touchdown run), everybody was so amped it was like, let's relax a little bit. Then when we finally made that play, everybody was like ok, let's get the momentum to swing our way."
For Parker, it was actually his second touchdown as an Eagle. In 2008, he return an interception 55 yards for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers, but that time he didn't have to pull out a stiff arm.
"Never" have I stiff-armed someone in a game before, said Parker. "I was focusing on not getting caught. You can't get caught on a scoop."
Tapp manhandled the tight end throughout, before leaving with a pectoral strain for which he will have an MRI tomorrow. In the third quarter, Tapp sacked Bradford when a tight end was once again assigned to block him.
"That's something that we try to pride ourselves on, not letting any tight end block a defensive lineman, that's kind of a slap in the face," said Tapp. "We want to always give those guys the best that we got."
After Tapp, Trent Cole and Cullen Jenkins each recorded sacks while Jason Babin added two of his own, saying that he was happy to prove some of his "naysayers" wrong in his first game back with the Eagles. Sam Bradford was held to 188 yards on 17-of-30 passing for a quarterback rating of 75.4 before leaving late in the fourth quarter with a right hand injury.
Even the Eagles' star-studded secondary agreed that, today, everything on defense began up front.
"We have a hell of a front four and they keep on rotating and they come off the ball like monsters," said Asante Samuel. "It's going to make it real tough for the quarterback to make some quick reads and make good throws. Hopefully, it'll make it tougher for everybody."
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider