So, now what?
After the bitterly disappointing 24-14 loss to the Vikings Tuesday night, the Eagles must regroup and ready themselves for the playoffs knowing that they let a significant opportunity slip through their fingers. Next Sunday's Week 17 game against the Dallas Cowboys is essentially meaningless because the Eagles are locked into the #3 seed, but that doesn't mean the Eagles won't be looking to make a statement.
"It makes a difference to everybody in this locker room," said safety Quintin Mikell about the impending regular season finale. "It makes a difference because we have something to play for. We can't go out there and have another bad showing ... You don't want to go into the playoffs after a game like (tonight)."
And yes, welcoming in the Cowboys will be an opportunity to get back on the right track. But the main goal for this team remains in the playoffs where the road is now significantly tougher than it could have been.
"It's a bump in the road," said quarterback Michael Vick, who had arguably his worst game of the season, getting sacked a season-high six times and turning the ball over three times. "I think it just set us back as far as what could have potentially happened over the weekend and what our expectations were. I think the thing we do now is that we look at our mistakes, figure it out and get better. That's why we play this game. We play this game to get better each and every week. You never know it all and you're always going to be a work in progress. I look forward to going and looking at the tapes, seeing what I can learn from them, seeing what I can take from it and I promise you that game is going to make me a better player."
The Eagles are now likely to host either the Green Bay Packers of the New York Giants in the wildcard round. The Packers, of course, opened the 2010 regular season at Lincoln Financial Field, winning the game but also setting off the chain of events that led to Vick's promotion to starting quarterback. The Eagles know that from this point forward, there's no margin for error.
"The regular season is pretty much out the window when the playoffs start," said middle linebacker Jamar Chaney. "You can be 16-0 and lose in the playoffs and your season is over. It's win or go home in the playoffs, and that's what we have to do -- take care of business.
"We're going to respond; we don't have any choice. We didn't come this far and have this kind of a season to go out and get sad after one loss. Everybody is probably going to jump off the bandwagon and say this-and-that about us. But we're going to go out and take care of business. We're going to take tomorrow to re-group and find out what we did wrong, and get back to work on Thursday. We don't want anybody feeling sorry for us and we don't feel sorry for ourselves."
Moving forward, the Eagles will use the sting of the unexpected loss to remind them of where they don't want to be.
"You don't want to feel like this again," said strongside linebacker Moise Fokou. "In terms of the sick feeling of losing and all of that, yeah, we have to carry that on throughout the whole playoffs. Nothing's going to be given to us. Although we work hard and everything, I think today we let down a little bit."
"We should take this to heart and understand that we don't want to be ending the season after this," said Mikell. "We got one more game and then the post-season and hopefully we'll learn from it and keep going."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 2:04 a.m., December 29