This was a game Super Bowl teams don't lose


There were maybe 12 moments in that game Saturday night where if the Eagles made a play -- got a stop, finished a sack, gained one more yard, recovered a fumble, protected the ball -- they win the game.

None of those 12 moments went their way, and now they've got to crank it back up and beat the Saints or the Giants to lock up the No. 1 seed. 

They've made life much more difficult for themselves, and they only have themselves to blame.

I want to say that true Super Bowl contenders make one of those 12 plays, but that's not quite right. I still think the Eagles can be a legit Super Bowl team, although I'm not as convinced as I was 24 hours ago.

The Eagles have to be better, and I get that there was a lot working against them Saturday. By the end of the game, they were missing Lane Johnson and Avonte Maddox and they were already obviously without Jalen Hurts. They were on the road in a difficult environment against a very good team.

But those are the types of things great teams overcome.

When you're up 10 points over your fiercest rival with five minutes left in the third quarter, you win that game.

When you record back-to-back sacks to put a team in 3rd-and-30, you don't allow a 52-yard pass, no matter who's in the game.

When your big-play receiver has five passes come his way, he doesn't let defenders out-muscle him for interceptions twice.

When you're down three with 2:19 left, your Pro Bowl running back doesn't fumble for no apparent reason inside your own 25-yard-line.

When you pile up 246 yards in a second half against a top-10 defense, you score more than 14 points.

The Eagles' costly mistakes Saturday weren't limited to the players.

When your third-string running back hasn't had a carry in two weeks and has never taken a handoff from Gardner Minshew in his career, maybe don't pick late in the third quarter in the biggest game of the year for the first one?

When you get a monster weapon like Dallas Goedert back in the lineup after a five-week absence, maybe give him more than three targets ... especially when Quez Watkins had five.

When you can essentially lock up the No. 1 seed just by stopping a 3rd-and-30, for crying out loud, you find a way to stop a 3rd-and-30. That's a play that shouldn't happen in a thousand years.

All year, the Eagles have played like winners. Winning plays at winning moments. They've won a few blowouts, but coming into Dallas they were 6-0 in one-possession games, which is the sign of a true championship contender. They've been finding a way all year.

Saturday, they didn't make those plays, and they actually did the opposite -- they made losing plays. In their biggest game in a few years, they came up shockingly small in the most important moments.

The Eagles did a lot of things well Saturday night in North Texas. DeVonta Smith looked like Mike Quick out there. The D-line became the first in NFL history with six sacks in four straight games and they did it against a team that hadn't allowed six sacks in two years. The O-line didn't allow a sack to a front that was second in the NFL in sacks. Josh Sweat had another monster game with 1½ sacks and a ridiculous pick-6. Two more sacks for Haason Reddick.

There's an awful lot to like about this Eagles team, and by winning 13 of their first 14 games, they've given themselves a cushion where they can afford to blow two 10-point leads against their biggest rival on Christmas Eve and still control the NFC.

I have little doubt that they'll beat the Saints at the Linc Sunday with or without Hurts. The Saints are pretty good defensively and Andy Dalton has played fairly well, but they're 1-6 on the road, 6-9 overall, 0-4 against winning teams. 

And if that doesn't happen, bring on the Giants.

But I don't even want to look that far ahead.

The Eagles still have an opportunity to do some really special things. They're well-coached, the roster is jammed with talent and they're still a 13-2 team that's one win away from a first-round bye.

But they've got to make sure that the mistakes we saw Saturday don't happen again. Or a season with so much potential is going to be over way too early.

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