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Kelly: Playoffs Start A Week Early

Posted Dec 23, 2013

Chip Kelly has already accomplished quite a bit in his first season as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

He's taken a four-win team and guaranteed the first winning season in three years following the 54-11 trouncing of the Chicago Bears. The offense is one of the most prolific in the league as it ranks second in both points and yards. A number of players are on the verge of setting franchise single-season records.

But Kelly's work is not done. Next Sunday night, Kelly can deliver an NFC East division championship ... and send the Dallas Cowboys home packing for the season in one single game. The Eagles and the Cowboys play in a win-or-go-home matchup on Sunday Night Football.

"Playoffs just start a week early for both teams," Kelly said. "If you win, you get an opportunity to keep playing. If you lose, you're going home. That is really just the first week of the playoffs.”

No matter what happened against the Bears, the Eagles-Cowboys matchup was going to be for the division title by virtue of Dallas' win over Washington earlier on Sunday afternoon. The Bears, meanwhile, were in position to clinch the NFC North title with a win. After last week's tough loss to Minnesota, Kelly was faced with the challenge of getting his team to play to its potential. The Eagles sent a message Sunday night.

"We're from Philadelphia and we fight. That's it,” Kelly said. “If there's a game on, we're playing, end of the story. All this stuff with backing in, not worry about things. I have no idea. So many different scenarios, could have been a tie. What if there's a tie when we go play Dallas next week and we gave a game away last week. If we are going to lineup and kickoff, you tell us what time to show up and we will be there.”

The Eagles executed in all three phases on Sunday night. The offense was bolstered by outstanding performances from quarterback Nick Foles (a franchise-record 84 percent completion percentage) and running back LeSean McCoy (133 yards and two touchdowns). The defense scored multiple times as defensive end Cedric Thornton registered a safety on Bears running back Matt Forte and cornerback Brandon Boykin took a Jay Cutler pass 54 yards the other way for a touchdown. Linebacker Trent Cole chipped in with three sacks. Punter Donnie Jones set the franchise record for most punts inside the 20-yard line in a season and cornerback Bradley Fletcher forced Bears kick returner Devin Hester to lose a fumble.

"They played with great energy. We had a great week of training and we chilled. So that's what we did," Kelly said. "I don't think the scheme was any different than we had in the last couple weeks. I just think guys made plays and we had a bunch of guys excited about playing in the games."

The key for Kelly was for his team to put last week's loss in the rear-view mirror. Learn from the mistakes, but don't dwell on the defeat. The Eagles rallied and played their most complete game in front of the entire nation.

"We stumbled when we were in Minnesota," Kelly said. "Minnesota beat us and played better than us that day. But we weren't going to let Minnesota beat us twice.”

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