PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Whether the Eagles, or their fans, expected to be hosting a home playoff game this season, the loss to the Saints hurt.

Five months of a grueling NFL season, training camp, mini camp, they all went down the drain with a field goal, as the visiting Saints beat the Eagles, 26-24.

Still, with time, we’ll remember that the Eagles outperformed the expectations of most, and have a solid foundation to build on in the coming years.

Some of the biggest surprises:

Nick Foles – Even Foles’ most vocal supporters couldn’t have expected what Foles provided this season. While it’s true that Kelly’s system is a kind one to quarterbacks, and Foles often was delivering the ball to receivers in space, he improved as the season progressed, and began to pair some “eye test” moments with his record breaking numbers.

This Sports Science Stuff Works – You don’t need to look much further than veterans Brent Celek and Trent Cole, two guys who appeared to be on the downside of their careers, looking as strong as able as they ever have, especially in the second half of the year. Many players said they felt stronger, and fresher, in the second half than they ever had. Eating right and sleeping well seems to work; who’d have guessed?

Chip Kelly’s Offense Works: It’s one thing to catch Washington off guard in the first game of the season. It’s quite another to end up second in the NFL in yardage, fourth in points scored, have the top rated passer, leading rusher, and two receivers with career years. It seems like Kelly isn’t a gimmick, he’s a genius.

The Defense Improved: In the first few weeks of the season, it looked like Billy Davis, and his defense, were going to be legendarily bad. And while they won’t convince anyone they’re one of the league’s best, by the end of the season they were certainly formidable. They probably need an outside linebacker, a few pieces in the secondary, and some depth, but they’ve got something to work with here.

Riley Cooper: Cooper may be the biggest surprise of the year. Cooper began the year amidst a racial controversy that had many calling for his release, and ended it as perhaps the team’s biggest deep threat, and Nick Foles’ favorite target.

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