Eagles learn lesson, don't lose ground
The Philadelphia Eagles learned a lesson without losing ground in the standings.
The Eagles (8-6) still lead the NFC East by one game over Dallas following a 48-30 loss at Minnesota on Sunday. That's because Green Bay rallied from a 23-point second-half deficit to beat Tony Romo and the Cowboys (7-7) a few hours later.
Seeing Dallas lose didn't lessen the disappointment for Philadelphia, though. The Eagles were riding high on a five-game winning streak and facing a three-win team missing its best player, reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson. Toby Gerhart, Peterson's backup, also was out, along with Minnesota's top three cornerbacks.
It set up for an easy day for the Eagles. Instead, the offense had trouble getting in sync and a defense that hadn't allowed more than 21 points in nine straight games was thoroughly dominated by Matt Cassel, Greg Jennings and third-string back Matt Asiata.
''You should go into every game with the same mindset whether people from the outside consider you the favorite or don't consider you the favorite,'' coach Chip Kelly said Monday. ''If you're paying attention to that kind of stuff, then you are not focusing on the things you can control. That's the message I give and will continue to give.
''You can't control what other people's opinions are going into a game. Your preparation should be the same. Your mindset should be the same. Sometimes that's easier said than done. That's not an easy thing to get accomplished, but ultimately that's the way it should be done.''
Despite losing their games, the Eagles and Cowboys still control their playoff hopes. Because they play each other at Dallas in Week 17, the team that wins its final two games is guaranteed a division championship.
Neither team has any wild-card chances. It's first place or go home. Only Dallas can be eliminated this week: with a loss at Washington and an Eagles victory over Chicago.
The Eagles can lose to the Bears and still win the division with a victory over the Cowboys in the final game. Kelly has no intention of resting his starters.
''We'll cancel the game,'' he joked before adding that ''we have to get back on the winning track.''
The Eagles have plenty to fix this week. The Vikings attacked their secondary with successful deep throws. That's not a good sign with Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall coming to the Linc.
On the other side, LeSean McCoy only got eight carries. Nick Foles threw for 428 yards and three touchdowns, but made a few big mistakes. Foles underthrew DeSean Jackson on just his second interception of the season. He held the ball too long and took a sack in an important spot, and kept the ball instead of handing off to McCoy for an easy first down and was stopped short.
''I just have to execute better and put us in a better position,'' Foles said. ''At times I missed some throws and made a few mistakes. I'll continue to work at it. As a quarterback, you can't put your team in that position where you make a mistake, like throw an interception or whatever it may be, so this is where you just keep playing football, you keep grinding. We're going to come back to work, we're going to be hungry like we always are, and we're going to fix the mistakes we made and we'll be better for it.''
One problem that won't linger is Jackson's sideline confrontation with wide receivers coach Bill Bicknell after Foles threw his pick. It's possible Bicknell told Jackson he should've done more to break up the pass. Whatever happened, Kelly said it was addressed and handled.
NOTES: Kelly shot down any rumors he's interested in replacing Mack Brown as coach of the Texas Longhorns. ''I'm not involved in any jobs,'' Kelly said. ''I'm the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and I'm going to prepare for the Bears, we're going to prepare for the Cowboys after that. Hopefully, we have an opportunity to go to the playoffs and I plan to be here for a while.'' ... Kelly had no updates on injuries to CB Brandon Boykin, S Kurt Coleman and S Colt Anderson.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi