The Eagles' path to the playoffs seemed pretty clear going into Monday night's game against Washington.
By winning all five of their remaining games, the Birds would win the NFC East.
Sunday losses by the Panthers, Vikings and Bears also increased what had been an unlikely scenario of reaching the postseason via the second wild-card spot.
But each of those scenarios required the Eagles to win. And that, not what the rest of the playoff-caliber teams in the NFC have been doing, explains why Doug Pederson's team has no margin for error.
By defeating Washington 28-13 at the Linc, the Birds improved to 6-6 and prevailed in back-to-back games for the first time this season. Last week they rallied to outlast the Giants.
"I'm just happy we did get a back to back," said defensive end Brandon Graham, who had a sack and forced fumble.
"I didn't realize we'd win one, lose one, win one, lose two. I'm just happy that we got that off our back. Now we can get ready for Dallas. Right now, everything is still right in front of us. Don't count us out."
With a win over the division-leading Cowboys on Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium, the Eagles would pull into a tie for the NFC East lead.
"We've got another week to survive," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "Have a good week of practice, go down to Dallas and make a statement."
Much of Monday's performance wasn't a work of art by any means. There were plenty of mistakes, but they got the result they desperately needed.
"It hasn't been a pretty season by any means," Johnson said. "We've faced a lot of adversity. We shot ourselves in the foot a lot of times in a lot of these games, but that's how it goes."
The game was eminently winnable, especially with Washington down to former Eagle Mark Sanchez at quarterback for nearly the final three quarters after backup Colt McCoy, who had replaced original starter Alex Smith (broken leg on Nov. 18), left early in the second quarter with a fractured fibula.
The Eagles eventually took control of the game after being unable to do so earlier.
On Sanchez's first play from scrimmage in 23 months, the Eagles somehow weren't prepared for a run. Adrian Peterson burst 90 yards up the middle for a score on a trap play, much to the sellout crowd's chagrin.
Leading 14-13, the Eagles drove down to the Washington 5 on their first possession of the second half, only for quarterback Carson Wentz to underthrow receiver Alshon Jeffery in the end zone and Washington cornerback Josh Norman to return it 40 yards.
"We left points out there," said receiver Jordan Matthews. "I think everybody knows that. That's why there's always next week."
The Eagles went 85 yards the next time they touched the ball, culminating in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Wentz to Matthews. Up by seven, Pederson was aggressive and went for the two-point conversion, which Golden Tate caught to make it 22-13.
Tate had his best day as an Eagle, finishing with seven catches for 85 yards. He scored the evening's first touchdown on a 6-yard hookup from Wentz and added a 32-yard reception in the third period that featured 25 yards after the catch.
Sanchez being Sanchez, he eventually threw an interception that linebacker Nathan Gerry snagged, setting up a Jake Elliott 46-yard field goal.
Meanwhile, Central Bucks South graduate Josh Adams (20 carries, 85 yards) was again the feature back. In each of the last five games in which he's led the Eagles in rushing, he's had a run of at least 18 yards.
Other than Peterson's 90-yard TD, the Eagles limited Washington to 14 rushing yards on its other 13 attempts.
The rest of the Birds' schedule — at the 11-1 Rams, home vs. the 9-3 Texans (winners of nine in a row) and finishing Dec. 30 in Washington — is daunting, and they'll probably need some help to reach the postseason, but the point is the Eagles still have a shot.
"Amazing, man," said linebacker Nigel Bradham, who played with his broken left thumb in a cast. "We feel like we're a resilient team. Something we've always been able to do is overcome obstacles. When we face adversity, we just know how to fight. When you've got a team like that, you push yourself to get in these types of situations.
"We didn't start out hot or how we wanted to, but we're still in it. And that's the main thing."