DENVER - The Eagles shuffled out of the visitor's locker room at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Sunday, grabbed bags of Southern-style food prepared by Jim and Nick's Barbecue and prepared to take a flight that undoubtedly felt much longer than the five-hour trip to Philadelphia.
They also had gotten their lunch handed to them by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Manning threw four touchdown passes against a porous defense, the Eagles' special teams surrendered two touchdowns and their offense produced very little in a 52-20 defeat.
"It's embarrassing to get beat like that," center Jason Kelce said. "We got our tails kicked a little bit."
The rout ranked among the worst defeats in recent franchise history.
Denver's 52 points were the most scored against the Eagles since a 62-10 setback to the New York Giants in 1972. It also marked the third straight time in as many visits to Denver that the Broncos scored more than 40 points against the Eagles, following a 41-16 defeat in 1998 and a 49-21 loss in 2005.
Maybe the mile-high altitude was a factor because the Eagles played most of the game as if they had the wind knocked out of them.
"It was tough to breathe at times," tight end Brent Celek said. "But that's no excuse. They (the Broncos) were playing in the same altitude as us. Losing like that is tough to take. When you play this game for a living, you take games like that personally."
As upset as the Eagles were after the game, however, coach Chip Kelly fully expected them to get over the defeat by the time the team reconvenes at the NovaCare Complex for the next practice Tuesday.
Despite the defeat, the Eagles (1-3) are still in second place in the NFC East heading into next week's game at MetLife Stadium against the Giants (0-4).
"I don't think (Sunday's loss) means the season is over," Kelly said. "Every week is a season and we have to get ready to play the next game against the Giants. If we go back and hang our heads and keep feeling sorry for ourselves, we'll be in trouble. That doesn't do anybody any good.
"I've always said that 90 percent of the people don't care about your problems and the other 10 percent are glad you have them. Win or lose, no matter what happens, you have to go back to work."
The Eagles may have a tough time getting over this one, however.
After each Broncos touchdown, more than 77,000 orange-clad fans screamed while cheerleaders did backflips across the end zone.
Manning generated most of the points. He continued his outstanding season by completing 28 of 34 passes for 327 yards with four touchdown passes and no interceptions. He has 16 TD passes and no picks through four games.
"The guy is pretty good," Kelly said with a tired smile. "You're talking about one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. He is just a great football player."
But the Eagles also had other problems.
Their special teams were terrible. Broncos kickoff returner Trindon Holliday burst through a giant hole in the kickoff coverage in the first quarter and raced up the left sideline past place-kicker Alex Henery for a 105-yard TD. It was the longest kickoff return allowed by the Eagles in franchise history, topping the 104-yarder by Buddy Young of the Baltimore Colts in 1953.
"After I broke, the first wave and saw it was just me and the kicker, I felt like I had it," Holliday said. "It was very exciting to see the end zone in front of me. There's nothing like it."
In the fourth quarter, Broncos linebacker Steve Johnson got past Eagles long-snapper Jon Dorenbos, blocked Donnie Johnson's kick and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown. Johnson, who played for Strath Haven High School outside of Philadelphia, became the first player to score on a blocked punt against the Eagles since Buffalo's Gabe Northern in 1996.
Penalties and dropped passes doomed the Eagles' offense. Quarterback Michael Vick completed 14 of 27 passes for 248 yards with no TDs or interceptions. The only touchdowns came on a 4-yard run by running back Chris Polk - the first TD of his career - and a meaningless 6-yard pass from backup quarterback Nick Foles to wide receiver Jeff Maehl.
Despite the errors, the Eagles seemed determined not to sulk over the loss. At 1-3, they trail only Dallas (2-2) in the NFC East.
"It hurts to get beat by that much, but it's still only one game," Kelce said. "We have to have a 24-hour rule with losses. By (today), we have to forget about this and move on. The division is still wide open and we have an important game with the Giants coming up."
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