With just a few seconds left in Sunday's Vikings-Saints game, Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson walked away from his television and went to throw out some garbage.
"I thought it was over," Robinson said.
By the time Robinson walked back inside, his friends were eagerly waiting to tell him what he missed. Somehow, the Vikings pulled off a miracle 61-yard, walk-off touchdown pass. Rookie safety Marcus Williams whiffed on a tackle that would have ended the game. And the elusive Stefon Diggs scampered into the end zone.
For the Eagles' defensive backs, seeing that mistake on Sunday served as a reminder.
"Make that tackle and we're playing the Saints, but he misses that tackle and now the Vikings are here," safety Rodney McLeod said. "Just like that, your season can be taken away from you in the playoffs."
McLeod, Robinson and Corey Graham, three veterans of the Eagles' secondary, said they feel really bad for Williams, a rookie who had a good season until the last play that ruined it. Robinson pointed out that Williams actually had a huge interception earlier in the game that will be all but forgotten.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson stressed the importance of situational awareness all week heading into the divisional round. McLeod thinks that missed play will be a teaching moment for the Eagles this week. The Eagles always show their players a bunch of those types of plays in two-minute situations. They all know their responsibilities on them.
"That's crazy," Graham said. "That might be like one of the worst plays I've ever seen. It's tough. I feel sorry for that guy. We all know that situation. He's supposed to be outside that guy, don't let him get out of bounds, so that's what he's thinking. So I'm pretty sure that's why he ran out of bounds, ran outside like that, trying to get outside leverage. But, I mean, I don't know, man. You've gotta do something. Either play the ball or make the tackle. It's tough, you don't obviously want to let the guy score the touchdown and lose the game like that. You've gotta find a way to make that play."
Graham broke it down a little further. He said if he was in that situation, he would have tried to play the ball. There were two choices: Either play the ball or back up some and allow the receiver to catch the ball and then tackle him in bounds.
Williams unfortunately saw what was behind Door No. 3.
"What you can't do is be too conservative where you do neither and the guy catches the ball and scores a touchdown," Graham said. "It's a tough situation for that guy. I feel sorry for him. I wish him the best."
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz declined to say specifically how his defense would handle a situation like the one the Saints found themselves in with 10 seconds left on the clock Sunday. Schwartz didn't want to lose any kind of tactical advantage; the playoffs are stressful times.
But he did say his players are coached up for those types of situations.
Having been a defensive assistant in Tennessee during the 1999 season, Schwartz was at Adelphia Coliseum on Jan. 8, 2000, when the Titans pulled off the Music City Miracle.
"Playoff football, those plays are big," Schwartz said. "And they're remembered for a long time."
Unfortunately for Williams, he's going to be remembered from Sunday for the worst possible reason. He's going to be remembered as the guy who blew the game and the Saints' chance at a Super Bowl. That's something he'll have to live with and it seems like he's determined to not let this blunder define his career. Good for him.
For the Eagles, his mistake serves as a reminder of the importance of doing their individual jobs and of the fragility of life in the NFL playoffs.
"I know he's a good player and he would like to have that play back," McLeod said. "The one thing is, you don't get it back, man. You have to make the most of every play, every opportunity and every second out on that field."