PHILADELPHIA » The Eagles spent the entire week trying to rid themselves of the memory of one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.
In fact, the Eagles will be thrilled if a madcap comeback isn’t needed at all.
The theme all week was to forget about Sunday’s wild, 38-31 win over the New York Giants and to move on.
Easier said than done.
The Giants took a 31-10 lead with 8 minutes, 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter before the Eagles stormed back.
Now the business at hand is tomorrow’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field.
This season, the Eagles have outscored teams 125-98 in the fourth quarter, an advantage built during their current three-game winning streak, when the margin in the final period has been 55-14.
In a 34-24 win over Houston on Dec. 2, the Eagles outscored the Texans 14-0 in the final period. The following week, the Eagles outscored Dallas 13-7 in the fourth quarter of a 30-27 win. And, of course, last week it was a 28-7 advantage, with the Eagles scoring the final 28 points.
"First off, you don’t want to get down by huge margins and want to prevent that at all costs," quarterback Michael Vick said yesterday after practice. "It does give you the confidence that you can come back, but things have to be clicking on all cylinders."
Vick is chiefly responsible for these stirring comebacks. In fourth quarters of the last three games, he has thrown four touchdown passes and run for two scores.
Even in their most-recent loss, a 31-26 defeat at Chicago, the Eagles outscored the Bears 13-0 in the fourth quarter.
Eagles tight end Brent Celek, who started the rally against the Giants by catching a 65-yard scoring pass from Vick, agreed with his quarterback that those wins are confidence builders.
"Our goal is to take care of things earlier," Celek said.
The players and coach Andy Reid insisted that the euphoria over the Giants win wore off quickly and that the team had its thoughts clearly on the Vikings during the week.
"I sense a lot of energy and I haven’t heard a lot of talk about the past week, which I think is important," Reid said. "I think all the talk and focus has been on the Vikings."
It’s been almost taboo to mention the Giants game in the Eagles’ locker room, even though it was the first time the Eagles overcame a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter to win a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"We understood how crazy it was and what a big comeback it was," said receiver Jeremy Maclin, whose 13-yard touchdown reception tied the score at 31. "I forgot about it three or four days ago."
Vick said he feels the Eagles will be tempting fate if they continue this pattern.
"It’s good to know you can do that and have the players and personalities to be able to come back and rally to win, but you want to keep a lead and hold on to it," Vick said.
The Eagles aren’t expected to need those late-game heroics against a Vikings team that has lost its last two games to the Giants and Chicago Bears by a combined 61-17.
Still, the Eagles have continued to show respect for their opponent.
"We know the Vikings are a good team even though their record doesn’t show it," Eagles defensive end Juqua Parker said.
If the Giants lose at Green Bay tomorrow, the Eagles would clinch the NFC East before stepping on the field.
Still, the Eagles are playing for the top NFC playoff seed. The players insist there will be no letdown.
The goal is not to look past an underdog opponent and to treat every quarter as if it’s the fourth.