Eagles guard Evan Mathis stumbled on the question.
What must all the players and pundits be thinking now? You know the ones I am talking about, the ones who called y’all quitters and failures, overhyped and underwhelming, done and doner. What must they be thinking after Sunday night’s 34-7 strafing of what had been thought to be a decent Cowboys team?
“Uh-oh,” Mathis said, his tone hinting at a question rather than a declarative statement.
The thing about being left for sports dead by everybody but yourself is you are not exactly sure what to say when everybody else realizes you still have a pulse. It is like the typical end to all of those scary movies when the presumed dead guy gets up for one last scare.
Only the Eagles are not dead, the scare is just beginning and “uh-oh” is exactly right.
That’s because they have not quit. They most definitely are not brutal, overhyped or any of the other criticisms shoveled upon them during a 1-4 start to this season. They are good — scary good, actually. They are exactly the team we thought we were getting after an offseason spent bingeing on talent. And this makes them dangerous, a perfect blend of talented and humbled in an NFC East without a dominant force.
And damn, Philly looked good Sunday.
I recognize there is a danger in calling anything based on evidence gathered in a game against Dallas, specifically the Cowboys team that showed up in Philly looking a weird combination of inept, uninspired and tragically mediocre. Many likely will argue anybody could have beaten what Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was throwing out.
The big man himself said so, declaring in typically bombastic fashion, “I never gave our guys a chance. The whole (beeping) thing is on me.”
Watch the game, people. This was not simply Cowboys failure.
I guarantee every NFL player watching Sunday night thought “uh-oh” or “Damn, Philly is back in play.” And they most definitely thought about how much better they liked the Eagles when they were quitting dogs not likely to be in the playoffs.
That team was dangerous only to itself. This one is lethal.
“It wasn’t like we were getting beat by people. We were beating ourselves,” Eagles defensive end Jason Babin said. “The thing was . . . we did it to ourselves.”
They did it to the Cowboys on Sunday. They did what good teams do: smack around the flawed ones, beat them down and keep them down. They started on offense, where quarterback Michael Vick looked like he did last season when he was accurate, composed and precise. LeSean McCoy looked like a beast, rushing for 185 yards on 30 touches. Who knew? Those wacky Eagles do have an effective running game after all. The Eagles defense absolutely stifled a Cowboys offense that had, until Sunday, been pretty proficient.
And on and on and on.
It is weird only because of the proximity to the ugly. They were called quitters by at least one player in losses to Buffalo and San Francisco. Vick had regressed to the mean, or so said his critics. The defense was overrated, so said the stats. A lot of folks were calling for Eagles coach Andy Reid to be fired, or at the very least instructed on topics such as the running game and not getting his quarterback killed. They very much resembled Rob Ryan’s training-camp jab of Philly as “The All-Hype Team.”
“He ate his words,” Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said.
It is the quote you probably will see a lot today. It is easy and it fits. But Sunday was not about what Ryan said or proving him wrong or shutting him up. This was about the Eagles proving themselves right, about the guys who stood up when they were 1-4 and said we are not done. This is about a team that went down and now is trying to pick itself back up. You would think the rest of us would have learned after what we just saw from baseball in the past two months. The World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals were a reminder on why you do not leave early, why you do not give up and how anything is possible.
“What they showed is you never give up, you play until the final game,” said Maclin, a Cardinals follower from St. Louis. “Nobody can declare you done except you.”
Dream Team. All-Hype Team.
They were down. Now they are dangerous.
“The Eagles are back,” Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel said. “The Eagles are back and we’re ready to play Eagle football.”