Defensive end Jevon (the Freak) Kearse couldn't hide his excitement after the Eagles' 30--13 win over the Lions on Sunday at Ford Field. He picked up his first sack of the season in the second quarter, when he dropped Detroit quarterback Joey Harrington for a 10-yard loss, and added two more in the second half. "It feels good to get that monkey off my back," said Kearse. "I get judged on making big plays and getting sacks, and it's nice to finally get some of those."
During five seasons with the Titans, Kearse had three hat tricks but none since November 2001. Though injuries played a role in his ineffectiveness the last two seasons, Philadelphia gave him a rich free-agent deal last March in hopes that he would return to the form that produced 36 sacks in his first three seasons.
With Kearse leading the charge on Sunday, the Eagles harassed Harrington throughout the game and finished with five sacks. "At halftime there weren't any tendencies," the passer said. "They got home on a couple of blitzes."
Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is known for his innovative schemes, and the addition of Kearse has allowed him to be extra creative. Johnson moves Kearse around in the alignment to get the best possible matchup for him. "Jevon creates so many problems for the quarterback, even if he doesn't get the sack," Philly safety Brian Dawkins said. "The quarterback feels pressure to make decisions faster than he wants to."
With the Philly offense averaging 29.3 points a game and forcing opponents to play catchup, Kearse can expect to have a steady diet of pass-rushing opportunities. "I'm fine with people talking about the Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens show," he said, "but I also want them to remember that defense is what wins games." --Jeffri Chadiha
MICHAEL PEREZ/PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER/ABACA (KEARSE)
Kearse's first three-sack game since 2001 came at the expense of Harrington.