With echoes of the traditional holiday carol “Dallas (Stinks)” still ringing across the Delaware Valley, the Philadelphia Eagles head into the holiday season as professional football’s best team.
The Eagles enter into their bye week with a league-best 8-1 record and a real need for a midseason reset. The wild finish to its annual South Philly meeting with the Cowboys showcased the team’s seemingly inexhaustible ability to come up big when needed the most and its frustratingly predictable habit of letting teams keep games close.
“Football is such an unbelievable game,” coach Nick Sirianni said in his postgame news conference. “There are highs. There are lows. Sometimes it brings you to tears of joy. Sometimes it brings you to tears.”
The Eagles’ record is a testament to both the talent of the roster and its resilience in the face of adversity.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts aggravated his already hurt knee late in the first half but refused to miss a single offensive play. Tight end Dallas Goedert left late in the game with a potentially serious arm injury.
Various players went in and out of the lineup from first whistle to last while the Cowboys staged a furious but ultimately futile comeback attempt.
As much as the win was needed, the coming week is needed more.
“We’re going to give all the guys rest,” Sirianni said. “(Hurts) will be one of the guys that benefits from our rest. It’s an important week for us to self-scout, and an important week for our players to take some time away from the game.”
While the Eagles are away — they return to action on Nov. 20 for a Monday Night Football rematch of Super Bowl LVII in Kansas City — the team will still have the NFL’s best record.
Players like offensive guard Cam Jurgens, slot corner Bradley Roby, Hurts and others will be a week healthier. Additions like safety Kevin Byard will have more time to familiarize themselves with their new teammates.
The midseason reset comes at a perfect time for the team and the city.
The running game has been dormant in recent weeks. The defensive secondary has leaked like a sieve. The games have been way too close for comfort.
There’s a sense that the Eagles haven’t played their best football yet. Each week, though, the feeling grows that they might never play to that standard. A Philly fan’s default position is that something will eventually go wrong, despite the Nick Foles experience.
The Eagles are changing that default position. There’s so much more to look forward to.
The holidays are coming and another deep playoff run is the one thing Santa will see on every Philadelphian’s Christmas lists.
A hard-fought win over Dallas is the perfect appetizer for another memorable holiday season. The Eagles are ready for the stretch run.
“What an incredible win and an incredible sense of perseverance and resilience from this team,” Hurts said. “We still have yet to play a complete game. We’re still hungry and eager to continue to grow and build upon the things that we’ve been able to do. Just way to show up in the end. Obviously, we have some things that we want back defensively, offensively and on special teams. But it’s always about finding a way.” ••