INDIANAPOLIS - For seven offensive plays, King Dunlap handled his business with the anonymity an offensive lineman prefers, taking care of Colts defensive end Josh Thomas without incident.

Then came play No. 8. On a third-and-4 from the Colts' 13-yard line, All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney lined up across from the second-year pro making his debut as the Eagles' left offensive tackle.

Freeney charged and spun. Dunlap flailed. Freeney sacked Donovan McNabb and forced a fumble, recovered by Colts defensive end Keyunta Dawson. Dunlap trudged off the field.

"I'm still replaying it in my head," Dunlap said after the Eagles' 23-15 loss last night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

A Freeney-Dunlap matchup is not exactly a fair fight. Freeney is a perennial Pro Bowler and the Colts' all-time sack leader. Dunlap, though, at 6-8 and 310 pounds, looks as if he could play any sport he darn well pleases. But he is actually a backup, playing in place of injured Jason Peters (quad).

In fact, the Eagles had just one regular starter in the lineup - center Jamaal Jackson. The makeshift offensive line had its ups and downs, allowing two sacks in the first half against the Colts' first- and second-stringers and generating just 15 rushing yards.

A seventh-round pick out of Auburn in 2007, Dunlap, 23, spent all of last season on injured reserve. He is getting a chance now because of the injury to Peters, but is hoping to parlay the opportunity into something bigger. He said he was looking forward to the challenge of facing Freeney. As it turned out, they squared off only that one time.

"He's been going it for years; going to Pro Bowls and getting sacks," Dunlap said. "I was definitely looking forward to the challenge. He just beat me. I ducked my head and he got by. If you don't use technique, that's what happens."

Dunlap's stock dropped considerably during a miserable senior season at Auburn plagued by injury and inconsistency. After starting the year as a preseason All-America, Dunlap was yanked out of the starting lineup midway through the season.

It was a bit of a surprise that he was even drafted. But scouts like Dunlap's physical skills and athleticism, and there is hope he can shed his "underachiever" label as he matures.

"For the situation he was put in, I thought he played really well," said Winston Justice, who started at right tackle. "He got beat on that one play, but that's against one of the best pass rushers in the league. He just has to keep improving. So does the entire offensive line."

With $60 million invested in Peters, there aren't a ton of expectations on Dunlap. But getting beat like he did - even if it was against the ultraquick Freeney - won't win him many believers.

Dunlap knows it. But he also felt the rest of the game went "OK," or at least was an improvement over last week's performance against New England.

Dunlap said the media might attribute the Freeney sack to nerves or intimidation, but he said that wasn't the case.

"The biggest thing about the NFL is that you have to be on top of your game," he said. "I didn't get nervous or excited or anything. A lot of people probably will ask me if I was scared or nervous. I wasn't. I didn't do what I was supposed to do on that play and he beat me."