ARLINGTON, Texas -- Perhaps no Eagles player enjoyed demolishing the Cowboys more than cornerback Jalen Mills.
You see, Mills, who starred in college at LSU, grew up in the Dallas area and got to play in front of his family and friends.
"It feels good, man," Mills said after the Eagles crushed the Cowboys, 37-9, at AT&T Stadium on Sunday Night Football (see Roob's observations).
"And by me saying that, 9-1 feels good. Everything feels good. I think the biggest thing about it was we were doubted. Us being 8-1 and doubted, that just put a little more hunger in us, and you see what happens when you put a hungry team on the field."
Mills grew up in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, not the worst of neighborhoods, but certainly not the best. His first job was selling local newspapers when he was 14 years old. He was determined to make something of himself, and football was his way out.
He would go on to become a four-year starter in college with the Tigers and thrived in the competitive football hotbed that is the SEC.
Because of character issues coming out of college, Mills' draft position took a nosedive in the 2016 NFL draft. Projected as a first- or second-round pick, he slid all the way to the Eagles' seventh-round pick at No. 233. But he has used that slight as motivation to succeed. His hard work and determination paid off. In his rookie year with the Birds last season, he played 65 percent of the defensive snaps. This year, he heard the whispers from doubters about not being good enough to man one of the cornerback spots full time.
So far he has silenced his critics. Mills has played 99 percent of the snaps this season and his made very few mistakes. Against his hometown Cowboys on Sunday evening, Mills was in on seven tackles. For the season, he is second on the team in passes defended (13), second in total tackles (63) and tied for the team lead in interceptions (three).
And as for the Cowboys fans in his family, Mills told me they switched to Eagles loyalists the moment he was drafted. Why? Because he is the only one of those close to him who made it out of Oak Cliff, and he uses that as a means to give hope to others where he came from.
"It's motivation for me." Mills said. "I know, in my mind and my heart, whoever it is older, younger, it doesn't matter. They're always looking up to me, and I can't let them down. So each and every day, that's how I approach the day, knowing somebody is looking up to me whether it's my family or friends."
That's a big responsibility for a 23-year-old to carry, but considering where he came from to get to where he, Mills has broad enough shoulders to carry that load.