The script played out just as you'd come to expect.
Trailing by 11 points with half a quarter remaining, the Eagles came to life against the stingy Packers defense and set the comeback in motion. Michael Vick rushed for a touchdown with 4:02 left to play, to cut the Packers' lead to 21-16.
It was then time for the defense to make a play – and following the script, they did.
Keenan Clayton sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers right before the two-minute warning, and Green Bay failed to convert on third down for just the fifth time in 13 tries.
As the Eagles offense drove down the field towards the seemingly inevitable game-winning touchdown, Vick's pass into the end zone intended for wide receiver Riley Cooper was intercepted by cornerback Tramon Williams to end the game, and the season, all in the blink of an eye. Suffice it to say, not all scripts have a storybook ending, especially not in sports.
"I told the team that I appreciated the fight that they gave today," Reid said postgame, "but we just have to do a better job as coaches and players all the way around, especially on third down in particular."
If you had to pinpoint one area that likely cost the Eagles a shot at redemption next week in Chicago, it would have to be the third down miscues on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, the Eagles only converted five of 13 third downs, making it difficult to sustain any momentum and allowing the Packers defense time to rest throughout the game.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles failed to get off the field on third down over 60 percent of the time. Rodgers kept the chains moving with accurate passes to his talented group of receivers, and a surprisingly effective James Starks rushed for 123 yards (the most for a running back against the Eagles all season) and became a nightmare for an Eagles defense preparing to stop the pass.
At the end of the day, the Eagles are a young team that countered a lack of experience with a lot of grit, determination and yes, a lot of heart. At times they showed their youth with mistakes and miscues, but it was great to see the future of the Eagles organization get so many snaps in critical situations, and perform well in those opportunities.
But as the saying goes, it's tough to win in your first rodeo.
"There were a lot of guys that had an opportunity to play that don't have a lot of years of experience," Reid said. "That's not an excuse for today at all. I told the team that I thought they played their hearts out and we just have to eliminate some of the mistakes that we made.
"I appreciate their effort, and there were some experiences this year that will help us down the road."
It's always tough to lose, especially when there's no game next week. But this young Eagles team kept it exciting, all the way to the final whistle Sunday night.
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 9:35 p.m., January 9