PHILADELPHIA (WVUE) -
Being on the field for a 41-point loss was bad enough, but for defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, one of several Eagles players out due to injury for that game, it was agonizing to watch as well.
“Especially having to be there and watch it and see everything that happened and see how it happened, there’s a lot of things that rubbed me the wrong way,” says Jernigan. “But out of love and respect for my coach, I’m not going to dig into all of that.”
Jernigan’s return represents one of the themes of the week: a healthier Eagles team ready to show what they’re really made of.
“We’re a much different team, as a whole, from the team that was on the field that day,” says tight end Zach Ertz. “We’re playing with a lot more confidence and swagger right now than we have all season. We’re extremely confident in our abilities as a football team, and we’re excited for this opportunity.”
The irony of this match-up is the Eagles say the Saints are part of what made them who they are today. Losing 48-7 showed a lot of their younger players what can happen if you don’t execute well, and it brought them together as a team and motivated them to finish strong.
“Going through that, that’s not easy as a team to lose like that,” says quarterback Nick Foles. “But like I said, there’s never pointing fingers. It actually brought us closer. It can separate a team, or it can bring a team closer, and it brought us closer.”
“Yeah, usually getting kicked in the a** will kind of jump start your day a little bit,” says offensive lineman Lane Johnson. “I think that game and the Dallas game were two of the biggest games that really motivated us. We weren’t expected to go against the Rams and do anything with the situation. I think we just really rallied the second half of the season. I think we’re playing our best ball, and it will really be different.”
And although head coach Doug Pederson says that he didn’t feel like the Saints were running up the score, the way the Eagles lost, the atmosphere in the dome, and the totally one-sided, embarrassing nature in which it played out is far from forgotten among his players.
“When you lose 48-7, I don’t think you’re ever going to get that taste out of your mouth,” says Ertz. “Horrible, horrible feeling, embarrassing, humbling, all of the words you could possibly think of after that game were true. That’s something you don’t forget, for sure.”
“We’re not satisfied with just getting into the playoffs and getting one win,” says safety Malcolm Jenkins. “We’re in it to compete for a Super Bowl, and there’s no better opportunity than this week.”