February 15, 2023
There and back again, an Eagle's tale.
It's hard to reach the pinnacle of your professional career after already climbing oh-so-close to that mountain top. The Eagles were 30 minutes away from the franchise's second-ever Super Bowl trophy and are now left with questions, concerns and, honestly, a dour disposition.
Speaking to the media as Eagles players cleared out their lockers on Tuesday, no player appeared more despondent about the team's Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs than wide receiver A.J. Brown.
Despite being an SEC star in his collegiate days, his Ole Miss teams never played in a championship game. Hell, they never even had a winning records in his three seasons at Mississippi. Sunday was the highest level Brown had competed at in his football life and he was specular in the process.
Brown totaled 96 receiving yards including this 45-yard touchdown catch on a big-time throw from Jalen Hurts:
WHAT AN ADJUSTMENT. HURTS TO BROWN 45-YARD TOUCHDOWN!— NFL (@NFL) February 13, 2023
📺: #SBLVII on FOX
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/d8gBDzRt2m pic.twitter.com/GXlAfMTESc
That's elite ball-tracking. Plays like that are why the Eagles traded draft picks and handed Brown a hefty contract extension last offseason.
Brown didn't seem to care about that catch on Tuesday nor his stellar stats. He spoke in hushed tones, still clearly reeling from the loss.
"I really don't know what to say. I'm kind of dreading it," Brown said about discussing the Super Bowl.
"It's just tough right now."
Brown is aware how hard it is to get this close and come up just short.
"You can say our future is really bright," Brown said. "Right now, I can't read the future. Right now, it's so tough. I can't even look that far."
A bad feeling set in for Brown when the Eagles were up 24-21 and driving in Kansas City territory late in the third quarter. A touchdown would've reestablished a 10-point lead the Birds carried into halftime. If they had to settle for merely a field goal, the Chiefs could grab the lead with a TD and, of course, that's exactly how it played.
"When we went up 27-21, I knew, deep down, that there probably was a chance we were going to lose," Brown said, speaking openly.
He assuredly isn't alone in that sentiment, one that I'm sure resonates throughout the Delaware Valley.
Up 24-21, the Eagles had a chance to connect on a huge play of over 30 yards on a deep pass from Jalen Hurts to Quez Watkins that would've put them team inside the Kansas City 10. Watkins couldn't come up with it. The farthest the Eagles got on that drive was the KC 15, where they opted for a 33-yard field goal on a fourth and six. They went up 27-21, but it would not be long before Patrick Mahomes and co. put the Chiefs back on top on the ensuing drive. The Eagles would never lead again.
"Right now it's so tough," Brown continued on. "You get to the dance and you're one game away. It's just tough to reflect. We did some really good things to get there... We got right to the door."
Brown was asked flat out about if he's worried about how hard it is to get back to the Super Bowl.
"You have to," Brown said. "It's a tough league. You don't know how tomorrow looks, let alone a year from now... We're definitely going to try to do our best and do everything possible to get back to work so we can prepare."
Just three times in NFL history has a team lost the Super Bowl only to come back the next year and win it all: the 1971 Cowboys, the 1972 Dolphins and the 2018 Patriots. It's not an impossible task for a team this young, this talented and this well coached, but the uphill battle to get back there begins now for these Eagles as the calendar flips to the offseason.
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