PHILADELPHIA — The one game at a time mentality held true throughout the Philadelphia Eagles locker room over the past two months. The mindset of the team wasn’t going to change, even if the atmosphere around them did. 

There’s little doubt the 2022 version of the Eagles heard the chatter, the only team to start 8-0 in the 90-year history of the franchise. When is this team going to lose? Can they finish the regular season unbeaten? What will this team do if they keep winning and have everything clinched with a few games remaining? 

Those questions are in the rearview mirror. The Eagles did lose their first game of the season, and the unbeaten talk is dead. But to hear the players talk, it’s not like they cared about going 17-0 anyway. 

“I don’t give a s— about any of that,” Lane Johnson said after Monday’s 32-21 loss to the Washington Commanders. “I don’t care. All the other stuff is just distractions to me, and I feel like that for all of us.”

A.J. Brown made it clear the 17-0 talk was a pain in the you-know-what to talk about. The more wins the Eagles racked up, the discussion of finishing unbeaten grew even louder outside the locker room. That’s what happens when a team is the last unbeaten in the NFL for a month. 

The Eagles aren’t the 1972 Miami Dolphins, but no one else is. 

“I know guys got long faces, but me personally — of course I want to win,” Brown said after the loss. “Now all this 17-0 s— is over with. Now we’re going to wake up, (but) how are you going to respond?. 

“This is a game that we all love to play and sometimes you get hit in the mouth. How do you respond?… I hope we get up and start fighting back and I feel like we will.”

Philadelphia was going to get the best from each team going forward as the last unbeaten. The response in the Washington Commanders locker room after the victory said it all. The music was blasting and players were proud of what they accomplished. For the second time in three years, the Commanders handed the last unbeaten team their first loss. 

The Eagles didn’t play well enough to win, committing a season-high four turnovers (only had three giveaways the whole season coming into the game). There were plenty of miscues along the way, fumbling the ball twice in the fourth quarter in a one-score game and two untimely penalties — one of which ended up determining the final outcome. 

At the end of the day, the Eagles lost to a team that they had a significantly better record than entering the game. That’s life in the NFL, which is why going unbeaten is extremely difficult. Teams are coming to lose to supposedly inferior teams every once in a  while. 

“You obviously want to win all of the games we play in. Tonight wasn’t our night,” Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said. “The message for me is control the things that you can. When you do that, you have a pretty good opportunity to be victorious in the end. 

“How do you do it? You prepare, attention to detail, the energy you have, the approach, the mentality towards it, and ultimately playing together.”

The Eagles played their worst game of the year — and they haven’t played many — resulting in their first loss. The previous last unbeaten teams the last two seasons — the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers and 2021 Arizona Cardinals — didn’t recover from that first defeat. Both teams failed to win a playoff game, losing in the wild card round. 

With the leaders on this team, the Eagles refuse to suffer that same fate. There’s still eight games to play in the regular season. There’s plenty of food left on the table and little room for error. 

“It’s about how you respond regardless of what’s in front of you,” Hurts said. “How do you respond to this scenario? How do you respond to that scenario? How do you respond to the feeling of joy? How do you respond to the feeling of pain? I’ve got a good feeling on how we’ll respond.”

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