The Eagles got a harsh reminder Sunday of what life is like in the NFL on a week-to-week basis.
"It's still the NFL," wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. "Regardless of what the opposing team's record is, we still have to go out there and take it seriously. It was just a game we let slip. It's a game I felt we should have won. Going into it, I felt we had a great game plan but throughout the course of the game, we weren't able to get it going."
Jackson had one of his best games as a pro against the Minnesota Vikings, setting a career high with 10 catches and putting up 195 yards, the second-best mark of his career. In the process, he set a new personal mark for receiving yards in a single season with 1,275. Jackson is now 135 yards away from setting the Eagles' single-season record.
Still, the record is not at the forefront of Jackson's mind, and the personal achievement of yards in a season rang hollow for the sixth-year veteran because of the end result.
"One game at a time," Jackson answered when asked if he was thinking about the Eagles' single-season record, set by Mike Quick in 1983. "If I reach it, that's a blessing and a great achievement. But regardless of my stats on Sunday, we still lost the game. It probably would have meant a lot more and been a lot better if we could've won. The biggest thing is getting a (win) and making it to the playoffs. We haven't been in the playoff the past (two seasons). I think that's more important to me and to my teammates and this organization, to give ourselves a chance to get back and compete for playoff wins and Super Bowls. That's something I've been accustomed to doing since I've been here, just trying to do everything I can to help my team and my teammates bring energy and make big plays. Whatever it comes to stats-wise, it's a blessing, but I'm still focused on (getting wins)."
The other source of questions for Jackson Tuesday revolved around a scene caught on camera that saw Jackson's emotions get the better of him. Jackson is an emotional player -- it's part of the fabric of his personality and manifests itself on the field every game. When the team is playing well, his emotions are viewed in a positive light, thought to bring energy and swagger to his team. When things are not going well, those emotions are scrutinized more closely. Regardless of how Jackson's emotions are viewed by the public, they emanate solely from his burning desire help the Eagles win.
"I've never had any issues with it," Jackson answered when asked how he harnesses his emotions while making sure they don't detract from his productivity. "I play this game with a lot of energy, a lot of emotion. I work so hard at it and try to go out there and have the same results come game time. That's how I continue to go out there, be productive and do the things to help my team win football games."
As the Eagles look to get over the loss to the Vikings and regroup as a whole, the next matchup comes against a Chicago Bears team in an identical position – 8-6 and first in its division. The game was flexed to primetime and will be played at night, under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football. It will be the Eagles' first Sunday Night Football game of the season and their third overall in prime time – their first since Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"Any time you're able to play Sunday night, Monday night, a game where the whole world is watching, it definitely makes a difference," Jackson said. "Regardless of any game, we still feel like we should go out there with the same energy and play a great game and try to win. We just have to get ready for a game this Sunday night. It's going to be a big game, the stage is set already so we're ready for it."
The Eagles have plenty to mull over and a lot of mistakes to correct as they handle the sting of a loss for the first time since late October. They have been in this position before when, at 3-5, they faced a make-or-break game on the road against Oakland. The whole team came together and put forth a performance for the ages to start an electrifying five-game win streak to get into playoff contention. The Eagles must maintain that same kind of mindset and outlook in order to overcome the loss to the Vikings, to use it as a lesson from which they can mature and grow.
"I think there are always things we can do better as an offense and as a team," Jackson said. "There are times when things go wrong and times when things go well. As long as we can continue to go out there and stay together and stay with one another and do things like that, we should be fine."
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