Rookie seventh-round draft picks don't normally get the chance to start for a team with significant playoff aspirations.
So you can understand the dichotomy of emotions for linebacker Moise Fokou following the Eagles' 20-16 heartbreaker against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. Fokou made his first NFL start in place of Chris Gocong at strongside linebacker, but he was also called for two costly penalties.
"I'm feeling a lot of emotions right now," Fokou said following the game. "You always want to give a team its due when they beat you, but this one, I feel like we beat ourselves. That's why it hurts a lot more. (My) first NFL start, a lot of emotions going out there. I think I settled in pretty quickly in the first quarter, but it's just a tough loss to eat."
Ellis Hobbs returned the opening kickoff of the second half 96 yards for a touchdown, but the play was called back after Fokou was called for what could have been a dubious holding call.
"I felt as if he was running me over," Fokou said. "I feel like I have all the eyes on me on special teams right now, so I just have to play a lot smarter. They know I'm an aggressive player, just keep playing aggressive but play a lot smarter."
But the Eagles would end up scoring a touchdown on the ensuing drive nonetheless. Fokou's second penalty turned into a bigger swing in field position, when he was called for a low block on Sheldon Brown's interception return. After intercepting the ball at the Eagles' 11-yard-line, Brown returned it all the way to the Cowboys' 35-yard-line. But after Fokou's penalty, it was brought all the way back to the Eagles' 12-yard-line, and after a stalled drive, the Eagles were forced to punt.
"The penalties, especially the one on Sheldon's interception, I think that was an aggressive rookie mistake," he said. "I didn't know the ruling on that, I was just trying to help my teammate out with a block and it won't happen again."
But both those penalties came outside of the realm of playing defense. For the most part, the rookie was proud of the effort he gave in Gocong's stead.
"I'd have to answer that after I watch the film, but I thought I did pretty well," he said. "Especially for my first time, a big prime-time game like this.
"I felt pretty comfortable out there early on, especially after the first series. It takes a play or a series to kind of get the feel of things, but after that I felt real comfortable out there."
Although he may have displayed some rookie recklessness on the field Sunday night, Fokou appears to have the cautious wisdom of a veteran.
"The second half of the season is still to go, and we're going to see (the Cowboys) again," he said. "So, they got this win but we will see them again and the season's not over.
"All we have to do is buckle down and get back to playing Eagle football, which is fast, aggressive and smart football."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 5:12 p.m., November 9