The Eagles' defense knows its mission: get in the face of Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner.
"He has a very, very quick trigger when he releases the ball," safety Brian Dawkins said. "He's never been a guy who takes a bunch of sacks. He's going to get rid of the ball fast. The thing that he does, he throws a very catchable ball. He puts it in a position where his receivers can either go up and get it or he puts it away from the defenders. It's going to be key for us to get pressure on him. We can't allow him to sit back there and pat the ball."
What's going to be fascinating about this mission is how defensive coordinator Jim Johnson goes about implementing it.
The Eagles have spent the last six weeks praising the work of defensive tackles Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley and for good reason. Those two have played a huge role as run stoppers as evidenced by their work on those critical fourth-down stops in the Eagles' win Sunday against the Giants.
In all probablity, those two won't be on the field nearly as much against the Cardinals Sunday. The strength of the Eagles' defensive line this season has been the fact that Johnson has had an eight-man rotation. When opposing teams are in passing downs, Patterson, Bunkley and defensive end Juqua Parker are almost always on the sideline.
Chris Clemons has become the left defensive end in passing situations, while Darren Howard and Victor Abiamiri enter the game as pass-rushing defensive tackles. Only Trent Cole remains on the field for every down.
With the Cardinals, it could be argued that almost every down is a passing down. What were the odds in Vegas that a team that threw the ball more than the Eagles would be hosting the NFC championship. The Cardinals with 630 and the Eagles with 606 were the only teams in the NFL to throw the ball more than 600 times and make the playoffs. The only other teams with more than 600 passes were New Orleans (636) and Denver (620).
Dawkins also talked about the respect he has for Cardinals star receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who led the NFC with 96 catches for 1,431 yards and 12 touchdowns and has been even better in the postseason with 14 catches for 267 yards and two touchdowns.
"I don't know if there's another receiver that plays the ball in the air as good as he does," Dawkins said. "Fitz, when he gets a beat on the ball, you can't have decent coverage on him. You have to be in excellent position and be able to go up and challenge him for the ball because I've never seen a guy be able to contort his body ... and adjust to the ball in the air like him. He's a big guy, he's a physical guy and he brings a lot to the table. Being out in Arizona, I'm not sure people understood how good he is, but I think they understand now."