IT'S THE National Parity Football League, so the Eagles could lose to the depleted Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Perhaps more than any other fans, Birds Backers should know that just about anything could happen in this wacky season.

But if the Eagles were to fall, don't blame it on any lingering aftereffects from their euphoric and historic comeback victory over the New York Giants.

It would seem natural for the Eagles to still be crowing a bit after rallying for 28 points in the final 8 minutes Sunday to stun New York.

But, yesterday, the Birds got back to practice, and, for the most part, the locker room seemed as it always has following a game - win or lose.

"In the NFL, you get 1 or 2 days to celebrate a win, and then it's time to get focused on the next game," quarterback Michael Vick said. "I think [the New York win] is a game we learn from, we build from and put behind us and move forward.

"The most important game is the next game."

During a season in which it's been hard to make understatements about the Eagles, Vick might have made the biggest.

Win on Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field and the Eagles not only will clinch the NFC East, but also stay in strong contention for the No. 2 seed in the NFC, which includes a first-round bye.

It's a slim chance, but the Eagles could still get the No. 1 seed and home field throughout the playoffs if they win out, the Chicago Bears lose a game and the Atlanta Falcons lose twice.

The point is, the Eagles know too much is at stake to get caught with a hangover from a game that has no more significance in the big picture than any other.

"These guys know all that," coach Andy Reid said. "They need to not worry about that as much as they need to worry about getting ready and going through the process of playing the Vikings.

"You have a good football team that's coming in here, you respect them and then you prepare yourself to get ready to play the game and don't worry about anything else."

It's a testament to the mental toughness of a team no one could have foreseen, but these Eagles have proved to be distraction-proof since the second quarter of the first game, when quarterback Kevin Kolb went down with a concussion that dramatically altered the direction of the season.

Since Vick got the opportunity to show he could be much more than a backup, this team has been hit with a potential outside distraction at every turn. From quarterback controversies to injury to key performers to miraculous victories and a couple of bad losses, these players have yet to let something external keep them from refocusing on the next task at hand.

"I feel like we've been doing this all season," said rookie safety Kurt Coleman, who will make his first career start Sunday. "When we came off the Monday night game [against Washington, scoring 59 points], that was a high.

"But we had to get ready for the next week. It's almost every week it's a challenge to get up, because every game matters and counts.

"You can't really lull one week and then have a great week the next. You have to be consistent."

The week after Kolb got hurt, Vick led the Eagles to a victory over Detroit.

The week Vick shockingly was named the full-time starter, the Eagles beat Jacksonville.

The week after Vick got hurt against Washington, Kolb stepped back into the starter's role and beat San Francisco.

Coming off a terrible loss to Tennessee and then a bye week, Vick returned to carry the Birds past the Indianapolis Colts.

The week after blowing out the Redskins, the Eagles beat the Giants.

The week after a disappointing loss in Chicago, the Eagles beat Houston on a short week.

This week, in addition to the hoopla surrounding the "Miracle in the New Meadowlands," there is Christmas the day before they host Minnesota.

"It's important that we eliminate any distractions there might be with the holidays and then also media things, attention that you get when you come off a game like we did," Reid said.

"Our players are focused in. We had a good walk-through today and we'll continue to go through the process this week."

Letting go of what just happened to prepare for what comes next has not been an issue with this team. *

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