PHILADELPHIA — The champions got their swagger back.
After a pair of tough losses, the Philadelphia Eagles rebounded with a dominant performance on the road against a division rival and dismissed talk of a Super Bowl hangover.
Carson Wentz and Co. aren't going anywhere. They proved it in a 34-13 victory over the New York Giants on Thursday night. The Eagles (3-3) are still frontrunners in the NFC East, and they're determined to make another long run.
"Having let a couple games slip through our hands, and this is what I love about the team, the players don't panic," coach Doug Pederson said Friday. "The players are resilient. The players know. Players are smart. You guys are around them. They understand what's going on. They see it. They hear it. They read about it. They see it on television. And then as coaches, we point stuff out."
Several of the team's weaknesses were exposed during the first five weeks, especially in consecutive close losses to Tennessee (26-23 in overtime) and Minnesota (23-21). The offensive line had trouble protecting Wentz. The defensive line couldn't get enough pressure on quarterbacks. The secondary gave up a lot of yards passing.
But they put it all together against the struggling Giants and showed flashes of the team that dominated the NFC on its way to winning the Super Bowl last season.
"When I talk about ownership, the guys have to take it upon themselves to make the necessary changes to fix," Pederson said. "Our behaviour has to change, right? Our standards have to change just a little bit. They have to elevate just a little bit. And I can stand up here and talk to the team until I'm blue in the face, but until they realize it, until they take ownership of it, until they sort of embrace it, it probably won't change.
"And what I saw the last couple of weeks is they're saying and doing the right things. They're showing up to practice every day. They're not complaining about a short week. They're not making excuses for injury. And that's what our culture has established. That's what a veteran sort of led team can establish, and they've embraced that, and they've risen to the challenge, and I think they'd had enough, and quite honestly, they rose to the occasion last night and played well in all three phases."
Now the Eagles have a few extra days of rest to prepare for a home game against Carolina in Week 7. It'll give players more time to heal from injuries.
Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters left the game with a biceps injury. Pederson said the medical staff is still evaluating the extent of his injury but the early indication is positive.
Cornerback Sidney Jones is week-to-week after he sustained a hamstring injury.
Veteran running back Darren Sproles missed his fifth straight because of a hamstring injury and he could return next week. The Eagles lost Jay Ajayi for the remainder of the season after he tore an ACL against the Vikings.
Wendell Smallwood (18 carries for 51 yards) and Corey Clement (11 carries for 43 yards, one touchdown) handled primary running duties. Personnel boss Howie Roseman could make a deal before the October 30 deadline.
"Both these guys are determined runners. They run hard. They run aggressive. They're really good backs for us," Pederson said. "A lot of confidence in both of those guys, and what they do, very versatile. And it's just two guys that really take their job serious and feel like they have to prove something every single day, and that's what you want out of your players, that they're out there proving themselves over and over because it just makes them better and it makes us better as an offence. I've been real encouraged by both those guys."
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