For a seasoned veteran like cornerback Sheldon Brown, the disappointment in a season-ending loss increases every year.
"It's still tough," said Brown, 30. "The older you get in the game, you start cherishing the moments a little more. It's still difficult and you really don't get it out of your system until the Super Bowl is over with and played.
"It's really hard because I know the effort that I put into it. I know how I really and truly care about my teammates and why I do this for nobody else but them. It's kind of hard when you put in that work and that effort, but then again when you're training in the off-season, (losing) gives you that motivation and (something) to be working for."
The 2009 season was certainly an interesting one for Brown. It began in the spring with a dispute over his contract situation, but the veteran corner arrived at training camp on time and posted one of the best seasons of his career. He finished with a career-high five interceptions and combined with Asante Samuel to post the highest interception total of any cornerback duo in the league.
"I feel like I've been consistent for many seasons so I wouldn't put this (season) any better than the other ones," Brown said in his evaluation of his year on the field.
Brown battled through several injuries in 2009, but he didn't miss a single game for an Eagles' defense that was beset by injuries all year long.
"I always feel banged up at the end of the season, fighting through some difficult bruises and injuries and stuff like that," Brown said. "This team needs health and needs health in the worst way. We missed a lot of guys that we went to training camp with and I think it kind of hurt us in the end.
"The only year we did go to the (Super) Bowl, everybody that we started the season with, we ended it with. And I'm pretty sure if you go look at the Dallas roster, the guys they went to training camp with are still on that football field playing and that's why they're executing and playing well right now."
Indeed, the Cowboys have only two players on their injured reserve list, both of whom are rookie reserves.
The Eagles' defense, on the other hand, lost starting middle linebacker Stewart Bradley for the season in training camp. Bradley's replacement, Omar Gaither, was also lost for the season in week 6. Elsewhere, cornerback Ellis Hobbs was placed on injured reserve mid-season and nickel cornerback Joselio Hanson missed four games because of an NFL-mandated suspension. As a result, Brown quantified Sean McDermott's first season as defensive coordinator a success.
"I think he did a tremendous job, especially with all the injuries that he had to face," Brown said. "If you would have told me we would have had all the injuries and still be in the playoffs, I would have taken that."
With an eye toward the future, Brown said that the Eagles still have a lot to improve upon before the 2010 season kicks off.
"When you get dominated like (we did), you have a lot to work on in the off-season," he said. "I'm pretty sure that I have faith and believe that (the Eagles) run the organization the right way, so they will analyze the situation and make the changes that need to be made.
"Obviously we didn't execute two weeks in a row ... If you're not willing to man up to that, then you're lying to yourself. Like I said, a lot has to be done in the off-season."
Brown certainly sounds like someone who expects to be back in Philadelphia next season, and he believes that will be the case.
"This is the team that drafted me in 2002," Brown said. "This is the team that I gave all I have to. I'm under contract and I plan on being here and I don't see it any other way."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 5:37 p.m., January 10