NEW ORLEANS – Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox tried to play through the pain.
He was carted off the field once with a foot injury and another time limped to the locker room with the injury. He kept coming back, though, showing the heart of an All-Pro player. In the end, though, Cox’s injury limited his playing time and his effectiveness, part of a day when injuries had a definite impact in the Eagles’ 20-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
At least Cox was able to make it back to the field. Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks wasn’t so fortunate. He was carted off with a leg injury in the first quarter of the game and did not return. Brooks announced on Twitter that he tore his Achilles.
Stefen Wisniewski replaced Brooks in a drive that ended with a Nick Foles 1-yard touchdown plunge, but the Eagles felt the impact of Brooks’ injury the rest of the game as the offense, after a 153-yard, 14-point first quarter, gained only 97 total net yards and zero points the rest of the way.
“I thought about it all game,” right tackle Lane Johnson said. “For somebody who puts so much into the game and who is such a great player, and he doesn’t get the credit for how good he is, it sucks man. It sucks.”
Brooks wasn't the only player along the offensive line who didn't finish the game. Jason Peters exited with a back injury in the fourth quarter and was replaced by Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
Another player who battled injuries in the game was cornerback Rasul Douglas, who left the game with an ankle injury in the first half and missed extended time. Douglas, however, was able to return to the field in the second half.
It was fitting, then, for a team that battled extreme injuries all season that three key players would suffer injuries in the final loss. That’s been a theme for the Eagles the entire season.
“We’ve had a lot of players go down, but we also had guys step up and get their chances,” defensive end Chris Long said. “That’s the nature of this game. We showed a lot of resiliency all season. Today was no different.”