The Eagles want to pick up where they left off two Sundays ago, winning a fourth quarter with a magnificent 13-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 7 minutes, 37 seconds off the clock and featured a punishing running attack to reach scoring position, finishing things off with two completions from Jalen Hurts to A.J. Brown (22 yards) and DeVonta Smith (7 yards) for a touchdown. Then, the defense did its part with a diving interception from safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson to end any hopes the Dallas Cowboys had of mounting a late-game comeback, and the Eagles ran off the field 6-0 and into their bye week feeling like they'd earned some time off.
Now they're back, and they want to get right back into the swing of things against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
"Our main focus is getting back on track and getting back on that roll we were on before the bye," wide receiver Zach Pascal said. "To do that, you have to rely on the guys you have in your locker room and we have guys who want to work in this locker room. Even during the bye week, guys were working. We had days off earlier this week and guys were in here working. Nick (Sirianni, head coach) told us when we got back to, 'Put your foot back on the gas pedal. We can't be one of those teams that started out hot and then after the bye came out and took a goose egg.'
"We're trying to stay hot and continue to roll."
To do that, they'll have to beat a Steelers team that is in a new era. They've turned the team over to rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, an extremely athletic and talented player who seems to have the "it" factor. The Steelers are 2-5, but they've lost some close games, most recently on Sunday night at Miami in a game that was theirs for the taking – but they just couldn't hold on to takeaways on defense or put it together consistently when they had plays to make on offense. The Steelers have an enormously talented trio of receivers in Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and rookie George Pickens. Najee Harris is capable of taking over a game at the running back position. Tight end Pat Freiermuth is a prime target, and you will hear Steelers fans in the stands chanting MUUUUUTHHHH every time he catches a pass.
Defensively, the Steelers have one of the game's best safeties in Minkah Fitzpatrick and a sideline-to-sideline linebacker in Devin Bush and are hopeful that pass-rusher extraordinaire T.J. Watt is back soon (he returned from injury and practiced this week). The Eagles know that Pittsburgh is going to bring some unscouted looks as they throw a variety of things at Hurts and the offense.
"We have to be sharp, no doubt," linebacker Haason Reddick. "They have weapons. Young guy at quarterback, but you can see the problems he presents and the talent that he has, so we can't let him get hot against us."
The goal here – and we've said it a lot already this season, but it bears repeating and repeating – is to keep building. To keep winning. To keep improving. Don't take an eye off the prize.
"As long as we continue to grow and have the right focus and everything is trying to get better each and every day – we're only six games into the season, seven weeks. Where we're at right now is not going to be what matters," center Jason Kelce said. "What matters is where we're going to be in the next 12 to 15 weeks."
Nothing has changed, then, with the obvious exception that the Eagles traded for veteran defensive end Robert Quinn and the team is "hopeful" that he will play on Sunday in certain packages after only a couple of days of practice at the NovaCare Complex. How much time will it take to knock off any rust from the bye week? What kind of urgency and intensity will the Eagles have at home in what is the toughest ticket of the season at a sold-out, sold-out, truly sold-out Lincoln Financial Field?
"In my mind, it's not even about coming back with the same type of urgency, sharpness," Hurts said. "I think it's about taking it to another level. And that's one thing that I'm personally challenging myself to do – take it to another level. Take your focus to another level. Take your preparation to another level. Take that step.
"I think the only direction is to rise. I've said that. I believe that. So, that's the mentality."
With that, Sunday just can't get here fast enough.
Fall has arrived in Philly, and it's prime football weather at the NovaCare Complex as the Eagles prepare for their Sunday afternoon matchup against the Steelers. Check out the best photos from practice this week!