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Encouraged by win, Eagles head into bye

- Associated Press - Monday, October 17, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A season-saving win has the Philadelphia Eagles thinking positive heading into their bye.

The Eagles (2-4) snapped a four-game losing streak with a 20-13 victory at Washington on Sunday in a game they had to win. The defending NFC East champions are suddenly back in the mix in a jumbled division that lacks a powerhouse team.

Coach Andy Reid rewarded his players and coaches with a week off. That's typical for him during the bye and it's paid off throughout his tenure. The Eagles are 12-0 after a bye under Reid.

"I want them to get away, and you can't help it," Reid said Monday. "You're in the season and there are games going on around you. You're not going to forget about that, and I'm not even sure you can do that in the offseason. I want them to get away and take a deep breath, and get their bodies and minds back where they're able to relax. Then, get them back here and get them to work again. I think the bye comes at a good time.

"It's close enough to the middle of the season where I think it's a good thing."

A loss to the Redskins, who came in at 3-1 and off a bye, would've all but finished Philadelphia's season. No team has opened a season 1-5 and reached the playoffs since Cincinnati did it in 1970. The Bengals started 1-6 that year before winning their last seven games.

Michael Vick made sure the Eagles wouldn't have to try to climb out of a similar, seemingly insurmountable hole. Vick led a turnover-prone offense to 20 first-half points, and the defense had its best all-around effort in holding off the Redskins. The Eagles blew fourth-quarter leads in three of their four losses.

"It was just one win," Vick said. "I think if we get the next one, we'll get that confidence. But we definitely feel good about where we are right now. Obviously, there's a lot of work to be done. We're committed to getting that done. I'm excited for the guys. I'm proud of the defense, offense, special teams, my offensive line guys, the receivers made great plays when they needed to. I felt like I made the plays that I needed to make minus a couple."

This season hasn't gone the way the Eagles expected. They entered with a Super Bowl-or-bust mentality. Instead, they're sitting in last place with November approaching. The consolation is the fact they're only two games behind the New York Giants, and have a favorable schedule coming up.

The Eagles play their next three games at home, starting with a Sunday night matchup against Dallas (2-3) on Oct. 30. They host Chicago and Arizona before playing their next road game at the Giants on Nov. 20. Considering the trips to Washington and New York are by train, the Eagles will go seven weeks without a plane ride for a game. Many players will be flying somewhere during their week off, however.

Wherever they go, they'll be a little happier after a tension-filled week in which fans were calling for Reid to be fired and players were left to defend their coach.

"I still think we can win this division," center Jason Kelce said. "I don't think the division is out of reach by any stretch of the imagination. We have been getting better each and every week and more consistent each and every week and striving to be consistent."

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Notes: DE Brandon Graham, a first-round pick last season, could return to practice next week. Graham had knee surgery last December and has been on the physically unable to perform list since training camp. "He's coming off major surgery, so you want to bring him back in and let him get back into football here, and that normally takes a little bit of time," Reid said. "You have to be realistic about it and then go from there. I can tell you, his last play was his best play. It was a phenomenal move on his last play when he hurt his knee. So we're looking for him just to get back in the swing and get in that groove of playing football. He hasn't had contact with anybody yet. You can't do that when you're on the PUP list." ... The four teams the Eagles have lost to, have won a total of 16 games.

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