Eagles hopes were alive until about a minute and a half remained in yesterday's game at RFK Stadium in Washington. At that point, quarterback Mark Rypien, driving for a score that would have put the Redskins ahead, was sacked and lost a fumble. The Vikings went on to win, 14-9.
"Three weeks ago we realized the chances of our making the playoffs were slim and none," said punter Jeff Feagles, who watched only the fourth quarter of yesterday's game. "This gave us a light at the end of the tunnel, but it was a little light. . . . It was just so complicated."
Now Eagles fans won't have to watch the New Orleans Saints control Philadelphia's fate tomorrow, won't have to watch the Eagles-49ers game Monday and hope the Eagles win by 25 points or something and miraculously slip into the playoffs.
The season that began with the promise of four heart-stopping victories, right out of the gate, appeared lost when quarterback Randall Cunningham and receiver Fred Barnett went down and out in the same game. The Eagles suffered through six consecutive losses, but courageous performances by quarterback Bubby Brister, Allen and running back Herschel Walker led the Eagles to victories at Indianapolis and at home last week over the Saints, setting the stage for the team's dim playoff hopes.
"Oh, we're very disappointed, but we have a lot to be proud of," said strong safety Andre Waters, who watched some of yesterday's game at Veterans Stadium. "The most important thing now is to finish at 8-8 and use that as a steppingstone for the future.
"If you look at the way the season has gone, the adversity we faced, we could have easily lost hope. But we didn't. We kept fighting and fighting.
"But nobody quit, and that's encouraging. A lot of teams quit early, but this team never quit and that shows the type of ballplayers we have in our locker room. When it seems like it's over, it may not be. Unfortunately, we had to rely on someone else."