Win or lose, Eagles fans will remember this team's personality

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Win or lose, Eagles fans will remember this team's personality

Something special has happened at the NovaCare Complex this season and it goes far beyond the Eagles' record. 

This has become one of those teams. You know the ones. 

The type of team that fans of this city fall in love with. The type of team it just seems like Philadelphians will always look back on fondly. And it's not hard to see why. They've been fun all year. Whether it's hanging out in North Dakota, celebrating on the field or dancing to a Meek Mill song in a team meeting, it's all been a blast. 

These guys really love each other; they've become a family. And as hokey as that sounds, it matters. 

"We understand that this season in the NFL is a grind," team leader Malcolm Jenkins said on Wednesday. "We put a lot of work in here, a lot of hours, so when we get the time to play or spend time with each other outside of this building, we're going to have fun, we're going to enjoy our time together. 

"Because the fact of the matter is, at the end of the season, this team will never be the same. No team in the NFL will be the same. There's always turnover, there's always new guys coming in and out. So in this finite moment that we have, we're going to enjoy."

Wise words from a vet. Jenkins is right. No matter what magic Howie Roseman brings this offseason, thanks to free agency and the draft, the 2018 team will be different. While many of the key players and starters will return next season, this exact group has just one more game together. 

So the question is, how did this group of guys become so close? 

Many teams get close. It's not really that uncommon. They spend hours and days and months and sometimes years together. But this group has seemed closer than most for a long time.  

So when did Doug Pederson first sense it? 

"You really don't know," Pederson said. "You sort of have a gut feeling. You have a feeling like, 'This could be a special team, this could be a special year.'" 

Then Pederson said a lot of things have to happen for a team to realize its full potential. One of them is to avoid injuries. Oops. That certainly hasn't happened with this group. In fact, the opposite has happened. They've lost so many key players that outsiders have been dismissing them for weeks. 

Maybe that's actually what sort of brought the group together.

"We've lost some talented guys, some starters, some role guys, specific guys," Pederson said. "But for me, it was probably through some of that adversity early in the year, middle of the season that we kind of kept things together and we were figuring out how to win a game or two or three and we got on a little bit of a roll. About that time, you kind of knew that, alright, this is a pretty special team. The sky is the limit with these guys."

Jenkins is one of a few guys on this current team who has been to the top of the mountain. He was a rookie on the Saints team that beat the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV to cap off the 2009 season. 

He said it's hard to compare the two teams, especially because he was just a rookie whose head was swimming back then. But it certainly sounds like this team has a special quality. 

"As far as the team being close-knit, I haven't been part of a closer group, to be honest," Jenkins said. "It's a special group. So many guys have come here, taken less money to come here. And guys who have gotten traded here or have gotten here on negative situations and everybody plays for each other. Nobody cares who makes the play. We just come to win and have fun doing it. We're looking forward to keeping that formula the same." 

Eagles vs. Patriots live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 11 game

Eagles vs. Patriots live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 11 game

6:53 p.m.: This is a one-score game but it doesn’t feel like it. With how the Eagles’ offense has been playing, this feels like an insurmountable lead. 

After three: Patriots 17, Eagles 10 

6:39 p.m.: Things aren’t going well for the Eagles’ offense: 

6:27 p.m.: The Eagles just went 3-and-out after the Patriots scored. After their touchdown drive, the Eagles’ offense has been awful. On their four drives since the 95-yard touchdown drive, the Eagles have just 14 yards of offense. 

6:21 p.m.: The Patriots just drove down the field and got in the end zone with a trick play. On 3rd-and-11 from the Eagles’ 15-yard line, Tom Brady pass it back to Julian Edelman, who threw a pass to Phillip Dorsett in the end zone for a touchdown. The Patriots went 84 yards and took all the juice out of the Linc. 

The worst play on the drive for the Eagles came on a terrible tackling attempt from Nathan Gerry. He had the runner for a loss and couldn’t tackle; the Eagles lost 25 yards on that. 

Early in the third: Patriots 17, Eagles 10 

6 p.m.: The Eagles had a chance to move the ball into field goal range but instead, Carson Wentz took a sack and then fumbled a bad snap and was sacked again. At halftime, the Eagles’ defense is doing it’s job but the offense is having trouble. That was expected. 

Not a ton of offense from either team in the first half. The Patriots out-gained the Eagles 121-111. 

Give credit to Jim Schwartz’s unit. Two of the Patriots’ field goal possessions started in Eagles’ territory. 

At half: Eagles 10, Patriots 9 

5:53 p.m.: After Carson Wentz fumbled to give the Patriots the ball at the Eagles’ 22-yard line, the Eagles held on the ensuing drive, giving up 1 net yard. The Patriots settled for a field goal. 

By the way, Lane Johnson (concussion) is out for the rest of the game. 

Late in the half: Eagles 10, Patriots 9

5:43 p.m.: The Patriots had a short field and got down the Eagles’ 4-yard line to set up a 1st-and-goal and the Eagles held them to a a field goal. Sure, Julian Edelman dropped a touchdown, but still, there was solid defense. 

There’s 3:21 left in the half: Eagles 10, Patriots 6 

5:31 p.m.: Lane Johnson is being evaluated for a concussion and it questionable to return. Halapoulivaati Vaitai is in at right tackle. 

5:24 p.m.: The Patriots are on the board, but the Eagles’ defense held them out of the end zone. The Eagles gave up consecutive 3rd-and-10s on that drive, one on a pass and one on a DPI, but had great coverage on a 3rd-and-7 to force a field goal. 

Still 8:37 left in the half: Eagles 10, Patriots 3 

5:11 p.m.: That was a monster drive from the Eagles. They went 95 yards on 16 plays in 9:33 and punched in a touchdown on a 5-yarder from Carson Wentz to Dallas Goedert. Beautiful drive. The refs initially ruled the touchdown an INT, but rightfully reversed the call. 

Eagles are up two scores. 

In the second: Eagles 10, Patriots 0 

5 p.m.: The first quarter is over and the Eagles shut out the Patriots in the first. They are in the middle of a monster drive. 

After 1: Eagles 3, Patriots 0 

4:43 p.m.: Jason Peters has two big penalties already. His return from missing three games isn’t going well so far. 

4:30 p.m.: The Eagles get on the board first with a Jake Elliott 42-yard field goal. The Eagles went 51 yards on four plays, but the big play was a long DPI on Jason McCourty as he tried to cover Boston Scott down the field. 

Still early in the first: Eagles 3, Patriots 0 

4:22 p.m.: And a flyover! 

3:50 p.m.: We’re getting closer. I promise. 

2:55 p.m.: No real surprises on the Eagles' inactive list since we already knew Jordan Howard was out: 

2:47 p.m.: The Cowboys have a 24-14 lead over the Lions at halftime. That’s bad news for the Eagles but not unexpected. 

2:43 p.m.: Plenty of scenes from early warmups at the Linc:

1:37 p.m.: Big stop by the Lions in the red zone against the Cowboys, preserving a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. I won’t be able to watch this game but it’s a huge one for the Eagles. Not only do they have to root against the Cowboys every week, but the Lions are a common opponent to which the Eagles already lost. 

1:23 p.m.: I have arrived to Lincoln Financial Field. There are three hours to go until kickoff. 

Meanwhile, the Lions are up 7-0 in the first quarter over the Cowboys. 

8:41 a.m.: Good morning, everyone! The Eagles have an unusual 4:25 p.m. start today, so we have a little bit of waiting on our hands. 

The big news as you woke up this morning was that Jordan Howard (shoulder) will reportedly be out for this game. He has a stinger and hasn't yet been cleared for contact. That means Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and recently signed Jay Ajayi will have to carry the load.

As you wait for kickoff today, here are five matchups to watch in Eagles-Patriots.

At least we have Cowboys-Lions to watch at 1 p.m. 

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Lane Johnson is out for rest of game vs. Patriots

Lane Johnson is out for rest of game vs. Patriots

Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson was taken into the locker room in the second quarter and is being evaluated for a concussion.

The Eagles say Johnson is out for the rest of the game.

That means Halapoulivaati Vaitai is in to replace him at right tackle. Remember, Jason Peters is back at left tackle this week after missing the last three starts. Presumably, Andre Dillard is now the backup swing tackle. Matt Pryor is the Eagles' only other active offensive lineman today.

There’s no sugar-coating this: Losing Johnson is a huge blow for the Eagles, but Vaitai is at least an experienced backup.

Coming into this game, Johnson had played every offensive snap for the Eagles this season.

The Eagles are up 10-3 in the second quarter with Johnson out of the game.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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