How Much Of A Spark Will Sunday's Win Provide?
Brian Dawkins has been through these kinds of seasons before, an up-and-down ride until the Eagles straightened themselves out and went on a tear. It happened in 2003, for example, when the Eagles bumped along until they ripped off nine straight wins and won the NFC East and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
So he understands that a win like the one the Eagles had on Sunday can provide benefits in the long run, if the team takes the right approach.
"That fourth quarter," said Dawkins, referring to the 23-0 run the Eagles had to beat the 49ers, "was something that we knew we had inside of us and was the deal we should have done the last couple of games. The fourth quarter is when you make the plays as they are presented to you. We did it here. We made every play that was presented to us and we got off the field defensively. PHI vs. SF 10-12-08
"This team can be a very good team, but we have to go out and do it for 60 minutes every week. That is the challenge we have."
No doubt, the Eagles feel a whole lot better sitting at 3-3. After losing two games and falling way behind in the NFC East, the Eagles are suddenly back in the thick of things in the division, one game behind both Dallas and Washington for second place.
The bye week comes at a perfect time, with the hope that the team will get back running back Brian Westbrook and wide receivers Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown, at least. Safety J.R. Reed and cornerback Lito Sheppard (hamstring) should also be back and ready to go against Atlanta.
Offensive guard Shawn Andrews is the question mark as he recovers from lower back spasms.
Beyond that, the Eagles know they have work to do to play the kind of football they want to play in the remaining 10 games. The run defense has to be improved and the red-zone offense must be more efficient. The special teams continues to be a wild swing from good to bad, and a high level of consistency must be achieved.
Still, roaring back and winning the fourth quarter 23-0 on Sunday highlighted the capabilities. The defense swarmed San Francisco's offense and dominated the line of scrimmage. The offense moved the football up and down the field all game and scored key points – bouncing back with a touchdown after a critical red-zone interception – to help swing the tide in the Eagles' favor. The special teams smothered Allen Rossum, the league's leading kickoff return man.
The question is this: What can the Eagles do to put that kind of performance into a 60-minute bottle and drink from it for the next 10 games?
It is something they will ponder during this bye week. They'll do so with some momentum after the come-from-behind win against the 49ers.