Philadelphia Eagles News

Postgame Notes: Finishing Strong

At 3-0, it seemed like the Eagles could do no wrong. At 5-9, it sometimes felt like nothing was going the right way. But on Sunday afternoon, on the first day of the new calendar year, the Eagles defeated the Dallas Cowboys 27-13, marking a second-straight victory that brought some balance back to the Eagles' record.

Here are some of the news and notes to come out of the locker room after the Eagles' victorious season finale ...

Finishing The Right Way

All in all, the Eagles ended the 2016 campaign with a record of 7-9, an identical mark to the one the team put together last season. Considering that this was the first year for a new head coach in Doug Pederson (and his offensive system), the rookie year for quarterback Carson Wentz, and a season of shifting personnel on both sides of the ball due to injury, finishing two games under .500 shows just how hard this team was willing to fight every single week.

"I thought we had a team that fought every single game," said veteran tight end Brent Celek after the game. "When you have that, you have a good football team. We need to carry that over into next year, but we need to get a little bit better. We have to clean up some of the dumb mistakes we were making in the middle of the season and start winning some games, winning the close ones."

The Eagles' final two wins over New York and Dallas came after the Eagles were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but the players in the locker room knew that laying down was never an option.

Instead, these two wins will send the Eagles into the offseason on the right foot, looking to take a step forward in 2017.

"It sets the tone going into the offseason," Celek said. "I think it's good for us as a team to understand, 'Hey listen, we're a good football team.' We lost a few close games and we killed ourselves in a few games, so just focus on ourselves, let's get better and let's continue to battle."

"I think it's a great building block for us as far as we don't quit, no matter the situation," said Brandon Graham. "When we play together and have fun like we did and get out there and play loose, you see what can happen, but we have to stay consistent and that's the thing. We just have to stay consistent. We just all have to take a look in the mirror and see what we can all work on and control what we can this offseason."

"To win the last two games and finish off a season that was obviously a little bit disappointing, it's always good to end the season on a positive note," added Malcolm Jenkins. "We feel good about where we are as a team. We don't feel like we are trending downwards. It feels like we're building something and kind of looking ahead."

Both Coach Pederson and some of the players in the locker room have talked about how different things could have been if it weren't for a handful of plays that went against the Eagles this year. But the Eagles aren't making excuses. Instead, they're building from how they finished together as a team heading into the offseason.

"You take a lot from it. I'm super proud to be part of this group," Connor Barwin said. "Obviously, we have to work on the middle a little bit, but we started strong and we finished strong and I think that says a lot about the character of this group. We have some areas we have to try to improve in the offseason, but there are a lot of encouraging things that happened in the last month that we should be excited about going into the offseason."

Milestones

1. Carson Wentz set an NFL rookie record by completing 379 passes this season. The previous record of 355 was set by Sam Bradford in 2010. Wentz finished the season with 3,782 passing yards and 16 touchdowns compared to 14 interceptions. He completed 62.4 percent of his passes.

Wentz also became the first Eagles QB since Donovan McNabb in 2008 to start all 16 regular season games.

2. Caleb Sturgis connected on two more field goals against Dallas, setting a new Eagles single-season record with 35 made field goals. The previous record of 33 was set by David Akers in 2008.

3. Connor Barwin sacked Mark Sanchez in the fourth quarter to give him 50.5 sacks in his NFL career.

4. Jordan Hicks intercepted two of Sanchez's passes on Sunday afternoon, continuing to be a thorn in the Cowboys' side. In his last three games against the Cowboys, Hicks has intercepted four passes. 

The Eagles hosted the Cowboys for the final contest of the season and came away with the 27-13 victory heading into the offseason.

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