CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nigel Bradham couldn't believe what he was hearing.
Late in the game, after yet another one of his huge plays, one of the offensive guys on the Panthers came up to him and started yapping.
"He was like, 'Man, I don't know who you is, but you a beast,'" Bradham said. "And I'm like, 'You don't know who I am? You must not know football. But you know me today.'"
Bradham played like a madman Thursday night, with 10 tackles, a six-yard tackle for loss on running back Jonathan Stewart and three pass knockdowns in the Eagles' 28-23 win over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium (see breakdown).
He was all over the field.
Bradham has been a solid, steady linebacker in his two years with the Eagles, but he took things to another level Thursday night (see 10 observations).
Bradham even played the second half mostly out of position at inside linebacker after the Eagles lost Jordan Hicks to an ankle injury.
"I told him after the game, I said, 'You a beast,'" safety Rodney McLeod said. "I've never seen that side of him. He did a heck of a job down there. Hicks went down and he had to go in and fill a tough role, but he didn't miss a beat. He made a huge impact tonight."
Bradham has gone largely unnoticed in his six NFL seasons, mainly because he hasn't made a ton of big plays. He has just two interceptions and four forced fumbles in 79 career games.
But he's played consistently well for the Eagles under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who also coached him in Buffalo in 2014.
"I feel like my whole career I've been one of the most consistent linebackers in the league, stat-wise, on tape, whatever it is," he said. "I've been making plays since my rookie year, I've been a starter since my rookie year. It's just the respect thing. At the end of the day, some people get more publicity than others."
But a game like this on national TV can help change any player's reputation.
Really, all the linebackers played well Thursday night, stuffing the run and in coverage (see report card). The Panthers' running backs netted one rushing yard, and Cam Newton didn't complete a pass longer than 20 yards.
"As a linebacking corps, we just want to make sure we get our respect," Bradham said. "It's just one of those things, we're just getting our respect."
Bradham was asked if this was the best game he's ever played.
He thought about it for a moment:
"My best game? It's up there. I don't know about best, I can't say, but it's up there."
Asked how he would describe the playmaking zone he was in, he laughed and said: "It's beast mode. That's what they call it. Yeah. That's the kind of zone it is. Just trying to create energy, man."
All the Eagles were marveling at Bradham's play after the game. They've seen him play consistent, steady and sound.
But this was much more. He was the best player on the field for the Eagles' defense.
"He had a bunch of strong tackles that kept them short of the sticks, he was just flying around out there," Malcolm Jenkins said. "It was impressive, and with Jordan out, we needed it.
"He was a big part of why we had some success today. He got banged up, he had a stinger, he left the game, then came back in and played just as hard. He really injected some juice into our defense. I'm definitely proud of the way he played."
The Eagles got Fletcher Cox back for the Panthers, and Bradham said it's no coincidence that all the linebackers were able to shine with Cox taking on so many guys.
"He's the top defensive tackle in the league, so any time you can get [a guy like that] back, that's huge," Bradham said. "Especially to me. It's probably another reason why my job was a lot easier.
"Our front is unbelievable and I love playing behind those guys."