On Sunday, the Eagles became the first team of 2013 to give up 50 points in a game. (USA Today Images)
DENVER – All they have to do now is forget about one of the worst losses in franchise history.
Forget the 52 points they allowed. Forget the four Peyton Manning touchdowns and the two special teams touchdowns.
The 32-point loss, the 21 third-quarter points, the national TV humiliation they suffered Sunday night at the hands of the Broncos.
It won’t be easy.
“I’m looking for the guys to come back enthused, focused on the New York Giants,” Michael Vick said. “A different attitude, a different approach. It took us three or four days to get over the loss to Kansas City. That shouldn’t happen.
“We should be over this. It should burn, it should hurt, because that’s what it's supposed to do in this profession, but we've got to find a way to get that juice back, get that enthusiasm back and understand that we still control our own destiny.”
The Eagles on Sunday became the first NFL team in 2013 to allow 50 points in a game in their 52-20 loss to the Broncos, and the 52 points represents the fourth-highest total in the franchise’s 81-year history, spanning 1,111 games.
Welcome to the first real challenge of Chip Kelly’s NFL coaching tenure.
Trying to make sure this thing doesn’t spiral out of control.
Can the Eagles bounce back?
Kelly said he doesn’t know.
“I think that’s a great question, and I’ll really be able to answer that question on Tuesday, when we come back out onto the practice field,” he said.
“If we come out and we’re hanging our heads feeling sorry for ourselves, then I’ll say we didn’t have any progress or growth. I think we’ve got to understand that this is a tough-ass league and you’re playing against some really good teams.
“As I tell people all the time, ‘90 percent of the people don’t care about your problems and 10 percent are glad you have them.’ We’ve got to go back to work and that’s the only thing we know to do.
“We’re going to go to work and figure this thing out. If you are feeling sorry for yourself, then we haven’t made progress. They come back to work on Tuesday, then I’ll be excited about this group as we move forward. I really believe they will.”
Only a late drive engineered by backup quarterback Nick Foles’ in mop-up duty prevented the Eagles from suffering their sixth-worst loss in franchise history.
The Eagles flew back to Philadelphia overnight. The players were scheduled to be off Monday – the CBA’s mandated weekly day off – and they’ll return to practice at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday morning.
“It’s tough,” linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. “It’s definitely tough whenever you give up that many points. It’s disappointing and you’re upset, but that team we play next week, they don’t care about us, so whatever we have to do, we’ve got to get over it.
“We can’t just dwell on it. It was a tough loss, but we can’t dwell on it. We still have a lot of ball left to play and still a long season, so we can’t let this demoralize us to the point where we don’t come back and fight.”
The Eagles are now 2-14 since their 3-1 start last year. That’s under two different coaches, but 31 current players were on the roster for at least part of last season, so for them, losing has become a habit.
It’s a tough habit to break.
“You just gotta think of something different and move on to the next week,” cornerback Cary Williams said. “You can’t dwell on something like this. You obviously got beat by a better team. It is what it is.
“You just go back to the drawing board, understand what your corrections need to be and come out next week with a different enthusiasm, a different outlook, with a different mentality, a different attitude. It’s a divisional game, it’s huge, and it’s imperative that we win this game.
“Just gotta keep pushing, man. Just lean on the fact that it can get better. As an individual, you’ve got to do everything you can do to get better. If you do, you’re bettering the team.”
Kelly’s worst loss in four years as a head coach was by 13 points in 2011 to an LSU team that reached the BCS Championship Game.
All seven of his losses combined totalled 51 points.
In the last two weeks, the Eagles have lost by a combined 42 points.
He’s never had to deal with this before, and he’s the guy his players are looking to for guidance and leadership.
“OK, we don’t have an experienced coach in the NFL, but he’s coached in some big games, and it’s not a time for us to get off his bandwagon,” Williams said. “We still have to continue to believe in his system and just play hard.”
For what it’s worth, the Eagles are still undefeated within the division and conference, thanks to their opening-day win in Washington.
And nobody in the NFC East has a winning record, so they’re only a game out of first place.
And things should get easier.
The Eagles’ three losses were to teams that are a combined 10-2. Their next eight games are against teams that are a combined 7-24, with the winless Giants and Buccaneers up next, both on the road.
The next team on their schedule that currently has a winning record is the Lions. In December.
So if they can get a few things solved – offense, defense, special teams, to be specific – they’re not in awful shape.
They just have to find a way to bounce back from one of the ugliest losses in franchise history.
“In this game, you’ve got 16 games and whatever happened the week before, you’ve got to let it go,” tight end Brent Celek said.
“If you don’t, it’ll keep lingering and it’ll stay with you the whole season. So you have to just let those things go. Just go out there and work. Keep doing what we’ve done the past few weeks. Work, work, work, and things will start happening for us.”