EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – From 5-7 to 9-7 and NFC East champions, it’s really been a storybook ride for the Eagles.
It’s not just the four-game winning streak they pieced together when a win could have effectively ended their season, but it’s the who they were able to win with that makes this something you might see on Disney+ sometime this spring.
They had 11 players go in Injured Reserve since the start of the season, including receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery and their big free signing in the offseason, defensive tackle Malik Jackson.
Yet, they endured.
“It feels great,” said head coach Doug Pederson. “I can remember back in 2017 and we were the number one seed, and at the time I think we were the worst number one seed, quite honestly, and we didn’t have a shot as a one seed.
“So now we’re a division winner, we’re the four seed and probably still don’t have a shot, but that’s OK. We’re going to go to work this week and prepare.”
This is the third straight year the Eagles are in the playoffs and the third time in Pederson’s four years as head coach.
All four wins in this streak to the finish line were difficult, down-to-the wire affairs, with the exception being Sunday. Even though the Eagles won going away, it was 17-17 late in the third quarter.
“To finish a season like this is satisfying,” said defensive Brandon Graham, who had a sack to end the year with a team-high 8.5 “But like coach says, ‘We ain’t done nothing, yet.’ We still have to put in this work.”
The Eagles did it this year were without their top offensive threat Zach Ertz for the first time all season on Sunday against the New York Giants.
They didn’t have Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson or starting cornerback Jalen Mills, either. Then once the game began, they lost Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks, offensive rookie of the year candidate Miles Sanders, cornerback Avonte Maddox, and receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was hobbled with a foot injury that limited his effectiveness.
Still, they persevered.
“We have a lot of great guys here and the coaches have been phenomenal utilizing each guy to his strength,” said center Jason Kelce. “They have been adaptive to the game plan, schematically getting to what everybody is good at. I think that’s a testament to a great coach is finding a way to utilize that.
“Everybody in this league has strengths and weaknesses. We put together this roster and we have some guys that can play ball even on the practice squad as we found out.”
Yes, this team would be headed into the offseason right now without practice squad players such as Boston Scott, who accounted for 142 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in Sunday’s 34-17 win over the Giants that clinched the NFC East title for the Eagles.
Tight end Josh Perkins had the Eagles’ first touchdown pass, a 24-yard that saw him work free across the end zone, where quarterback Carson Wentz found him.
And Greg Ward, who continued making big catches in Sunday to finish with six receptions for 43 yards.
“This means a lot,” said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who made a big fumble recovery at the New York two-yard line in the fourth quarter. “It means a lot to the organization, it means a lot to the fans, it means a lot to the city of Philadelphia and it means a lot to us.
“We just came out and everybody did their job, man. The last four weeks, everyone has been focused. We got a lot of guys go down it’s just the next guys have been stepping up. With the guys stepping up, to me, it’s bringing this locker room that much closer.”