After a review of the game tape, here is a look at three key Eagles in Sunday's 20-14 victory over the New York Giants:
The offensive tackle had a terrific game and an even better quote to describe his team's dominating performance.
"I think everybody was extremely high off what we were doing," Thomas said afterward.
What the Eagles did was control the clock and the game by running the ball, a rare method of operation for an Andy Reid-coached offense. Thomas performed well in both the passing and running games.
In fact, he made the game's most critical pass block on Brian Westbrook's 40-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter. After Mathias Kiwanuka ran around Westbrook and Thomas, the Eagles tackle backtracked and got just enough of a shove on the defensive end to allow quarterback Donovan McNabb to take a step up in the pocket.
Westbrook, meanwhile, slipped out of the backfield and inside linebacker Antonio Pierce to give McNabb another option when the other receivers were all covered. Once Westbrook got the football in stride, Pierce had no chance of catching him.
Reid complimented the blocking work of wide receiver Hank Baskett at his news conference yesterday, and it was easy to see why. Baskett was asked often to seal off Kiwanuka, freeing Thomas to go after linebackers Danny Clark and Chase Blackburn.
A perfect example of that blocking scheme was on display with just over nine minutes left in the game. Baskett cut off Kiwanuka, and Thomas set up a blockade in front of Blackburn, opening the way for a 13-yard gain by Westbrook. That run was the start of a 14-play drive that ended with a David Akers field goal and ate up more than seven minutes. It was essentially the drive that sealed the upset for the Eagles.
Sometimes the biggest compliment you can give a linebacker, especially a strong-side linebacker, is that you did not notice him.
What you might not have noticed Sunday is that tight end Kevin Boss barely played a role in New York's passing game, and that's a real compliment to Gocong. Quarterback Eli Manning tried to go to Boss on the Giants' second offensive series, but Gocong had terrific coverage on the tight end and knocked down the pass, forcing New York into a third-and-8 situation.
Gocong did have some issues in the running game in the first half. On the Giants' third possession, he allowed Derrick Ward to break free for a 9-yard gain.
Early in the second quarter, Gocong was sealed off by guard Chris Snee on a 23-yard run by Brandon Jacobs. But on the same series, Gocong made his best play of the game. Despite being held by fullback Madison Hedgecock, he forced his way into the Giants' backfield and stopped Jacobs for a 3-yard loss on second and 3. When the Giants failed to get the first down on the next play, they were forced to attempt a 47-yard field goal that was blocked by Trent Cole.
In the final quarter, Gocong got blitz pressure on Manning, who threw a pass off his back foot that would have been intercepted by safety Brian Dawkins if cornerback Asante Samuel had not run in front of him. The two Eagles collided, and neither came up with the football.
The Eagles held the Giants to a season-low 88 yards rushing, and Mikell was a big reason why. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson put eight men in the box about half the time, and most of the time the eighth man was Mikell, who might be one of the most underrated safeties in the league.
Mikell, with help from rapidly improving defensive end Victor Abiamiri, made the key tackle of the Giants' first offensive series. After Abiamiri blew up a reverse play to Mario Manningham by getting 14 yards deep into the Giants' backfield, Mikell finished the play with a punishing tackle that resulted in a 12-yard loss.
An example of how hard it was for the Giants' vaunted offensive line to handle the extra run defender came late in the first quarter. Mikell went crashing into the backfield on a run blitz and forced Snee to block him, which allowed middle linebacker Stewart Bradley to come up and stop Ahmad Bradshaw for a 1-yard gain on third and 2.
Mikell allowed Hedgecock to get to him on a 23-yard run by Jacobs early in the second quarter and whiffed on a chance to recover Ward's fumble later on that same drive.
The more you watch Mikell, however, the more you realize he is playing with the same intensity and nasty streak that have made his teammate Brian Dawkins such a great player over the years. When Mikell gets a chance to make a big hit, he's not afraid to take it. His most vicious hit came early in the fourth quarter, when he flattened receiver Domenik Hixon on a 17-yard catch.