Now, they face a showdown for first place in the NFC East with the Giants, both teams 6-3, a prime-time Sunday-night matchup. Can the Eagles maintain the level of focus and passion that has carried them into unexpected contention?
"We're just trying to keep this train going. We have a little bit of momentum, we're trying to ride it," strongside linebacker Moise Fokou said. "We can't let down. [Coaches] have been talking about how you handle success, how you come off of successful games. A lot of times people can ride that successful wave, kind of let down, not really pay attention or put a lot of focus into the next game. That's not what we do here. We're detailed here, we study. We go in loose and we have a lot of fun, a lot of energy . . . That's the challenge with the NFL, isn't it? Trying to stay healthy, trying to stay fresh, always trying to stay on top of your game. Teams have done it; you saw the Patriots [who were 16-0 in 2007]. It is doable."
DeSean Jackson said, basically, there can't ever be too many bright-lights, big-time games in a row to suit him.
"We love these big games, man," he said. "Sunday nights, Monday nights, the whole world is watching. These are the games we look forward to. That's what the whole week is for, to prepare for these games."
Spotlight's glare aside, by the time they play Houston at the Linc on Thursday, Dec. 2, the Eagles will have played four games in 18 days. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said the challenge is to compensate for cutting back a little on physical preparation by doing more mental preparation - more film study, more time with the playbook.
Head coach Andy Reid seems to view the situation more as an opportunity than an ordeal.
"You've got to be mentally tough," he said. "These types of stretches, if you're going to be any good, then you have to work through them. So, we'll see. We'll see how it all works."
Reid told reporters this week he doesn't feel he needs to say anything about the possibility of a letdown.
"They know. The players know that stuff. I don't need to say all that. They understand. We're sitting here after nine games, and there are a whole lot of games left," Reid said.
Nonetheless, quarterback Michael Vick said putting Washington in the rearview mirror "was the first thing [Reid] said in the team meeting" even though Vick said no reminder was necessary.
"I think this team is very mature. It's easy for us to focus on the Giants right now and put the rest behind us," right tackle Winston Justice said. "Physically, it's tough. The extra day [in a normal week] is just crucial. We were all here Wednesday, hurtin'. That's just part of the game. It's gonna hurt. It's gonna be uncomfortable."
Defensive end Darryl Tapp said: "We don't have a complacent team. Guys come out and work hard each and every day, regardless of what the situation is."
Weakside linebacker Ernie Sims said he "wouldn't say it was easy" to put aside the huge win over Washington and refocus for a short week against a formidable rival. "We were real excited about the game, about winning the game. But, at the same time, that's behind us now . . . It's Thursday now. We definitely have to move forward."
Fokou noted one thing the Eagles have in their favor - for reasons Reid contends he cannot explain, his teams are 61-25-1 in November and December going back to the 2000 season. Only the Bill Belichick Patriots are better historically in the final months of the season. Reid is 27-12 in the NFC East in those months.
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