The Eagles beat the Redskins 34-10 Sunday afternoon to officially end their dream season.
Mike Vick chucked three touchdowns, including a 62-yarder to DeSean Jackson that pretty much sealed it early in the fourth quarter. Jackson finished with four catches for 86 yards, making him just the fifth player in NFL history to go for at least 900 receiving yards in his first four seasons.
But Jackson wasn’t alone.
Jeremy Maclin capped a career year by hauling in eight balls for 105 yards. Brent Celek continued his second-half boom with six receptions for 86 yards. And with 390 yards of total offense, the Eagles broke the franchise record for total yards (6,386) and first downs (356) in a season.
That, coupled with a four-game winning streak to end the season, and the Eagles are in full spin mode. This is a team on the rise, a team with plenty of positives to take from an 8-8 finish and apply to 2012.
“We’ve been playing good football these last four weeks, and we feel like we could play anybody and win games,” coach Andy Reid said.
“Everybody's jelling together, our team is getting closer as a unit, everybody's understanding their coaches and what they're trying to do and their philosophy,” Vick said. “We know what needs to be done. We'll fly under the radar and try to shock people next year. Next year will be totally different. I promise you.”
You want more positives?
The Eagles also went 5-1 in the NFC East and handed the Cowboys and Redskins their two biggest losses of the season. Rookie kicker Alex Henery made his last 16 field goal attempts and closed the season 24-of-27 for the best percentage in team history. This was also the first Eagles team to feature three receivers — Jackson (961), Maclin (859), Celek (811) — with more than 800 yards each.
“It’s going to be tough, trust me, sitting at home watching these guys in the playoffs,” Maclin said. “We just got to maintain a positive outlook on what we could be and go into the offseason with the mentality that we can play with the best in the league.”
Maclin’s comments echoed what everyone in the locker room was saying. After admitting how disappointing this past season was, Maclin was quick to point out the positives.
“We can’t hang our heads,” Maclin said. “We did the best that we could do in the later part of the season and we finished the last quarter of the season 4-0. That’s the best we could do, so we can’t really look at the past.”
Reid once again took the blame for the way the season turned out. But, aside from praising his team’s 24-point win over the hapless Redskins, Reid wouldn’t discuss the future. Not his own or that of embattled defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
“I’ll think about it when I want to think about it,” Reid said. “I haven’t thought about anything going forward. I’m not there.”
Reid concluded his press conference by wishing the media a Happy New Year. Once again, his players were left to answer questions about their coach’s future. As expected, everyone had Reid’s back.
“I think that Andy is going to be back,” Celek said. “I think he should be back. He is an amazing coach.”
Todd Herremans took it a step further. The starting right tackle said he wouldn’t be surprised if some personnel changes were made. However, losing Reid isn’t something that anyone is thinking about. It’s not even a question in the players' minds. Everyone expects him to be back.
“That would surprise me completely,” Herremans said, when asked if Reid wouldn’t be back. “I don’t even think that’s an option. I don’t think the guys are thinking about that at all. I think there are some changes that need to be made, but I don’t get paid to think. I get paid to play.”