Philadelphia Eagles News

Don't worry Eagles fans, the players know the significance of Dallas Week

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside showed up to Philadelphia after being drafted with a smile as wide as Broad Street and with an excitement in his eyes only matched by a child ready to dive into a bag of Halloween candy.

It's understandable that the South Carolina native would be excited, as he was about to embark on his career as an NFL wide receiver. Before he could don the midnight green, however, he had to learn a couple of things.

"The first thing that I heard when I got drafted here was the fans are some of the best fans in the country," he said, "and you gotta beat Dallas."

Yes, before he was ever told where to find the best cheesesteak or how to properly announce water (it's wooder, by the way), Arcega-Whiteside had to know the importance of this week, better known as "Dallas Week."

Surely, Eagles fans would like to witness a victory every single Sunday, but beating the Cowboys means a little bit more. Every Eagle quickly learns that while wearing the iconic wings on their helmets.

"I knew from the jump," quarterback Carson Wentz said to reporters on Wednesday. "The second I was drafted, I got here, and you hear fans talking about Dallas in the offseason. 'Hey, just beat Dallas.' That's all people would care about when I go out and things like that."

Wentz has felt the highs and lows of the rivalry. He led the Eagles to victories over the Cowboys in 2016 and 2017, but fell to them twice last season in heartbreaking fashion. He does not want to replicate that feeling Sunday night.

"I know the rivalry's real," he said. "Again, we as players though, we just treat it as another game, but we know what's going on."

What's going on is a rivalry that has seen 120 chapters dating back to the Cowboys' first season in 1960. There have been monumental playoff matchups, epic fourth-down stops, nail-biting overtime finishes, a lot of trash talk among the fan bases, and everything in between.

One team represents the grandeur and splendor of being the self-proclaimed favorite team of America, while the other team projects the gritty and resilient attitude of its city, which just so happens to be where America was born. It's almost like something out of Hollywood except there is no happy ending. In fact, there is no ending at all. It just keeps going.

And yes, the winner of Sunday's game will walk away with sole possession of first place in the NFC East and while that is very, very important, that's not all that's at stake here. Pride and, most importantly for fans, bragging rights complete the trinity of awards from this week's contest.

"I know people always say, 'I don't care how many games you win as long as you beat the Cowboys, I'm happy.' This is one of those games I know that is important to Eagles fans and myself. Being here long enough to understand it, we have to get this win against 'America's Team,'" said Brandon Graham, the longest-tenured member of the Eagles' defense.

But you don't have to be a lifelong Eagle to know the importance. For instance, Malcolm Jenkins spent the first five seasons of his career with the New Orleans Saints, but was well aware of the history that runs between the two franchises.

"Long before I ever put on a jersey, just the history of not only the two teams, but coaches, the fans, and all the things that make rivalries great," he told reporters on Tuesday. "It seems like the division is always tied up in these divisional games that have huge implications later in the year."

The Eagles and Cowboys have played in overtime only four times in nearly 60 years of playing each other. Jenkins has played in three of those games.

"I think the quality of the games, the quality of the history, and just the passion of both fan bases make for an interesting rivalry," he added.

Sunday will be quite interesting given everything that is at stake, but even without all of that, the importance remains the same. Just ask Arcega-Whiteside, who now six months removed from his arrival in Philadelphia, is fully aware of what this week means.

"I understand this is a pretty big week, and the focus and the attitude of this team right now is at the highest level because we know how much this game means to everybody," he said.

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