What if, of all the years of Ron Jaworski to Harold Carmichael and Reggie White and Randall Cunningham and Donovan McNabb and all of the other stars you remember, this was the Eagles team that finally brought Philadelphia its first Super Bowl?
Doubt these Eagles, dog masks and all, at your own peril. They were underdogs in the divisional round to the Atlanta Falcons and won. They were underdogs in the NFC championship game to the Minnesota Vikings and won in a 38-7 blowout. Now they’ll be significant underdogs to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
The last part is what’s important. The Eagles are in Super Bowl LII.
That wasn’t supposed to happen after Carson Wentz’s season-ending knee injury in Week 14 (though, not everyone counted the Eagles out with Nick Foles). The road was a lot tougher, and other than Jeff Hostetler with the 1990 New York Giants, there weren’t a lot of examples of backup quarterbacks taking over that late in the season and going to a Super Bowl. But Foles, and the Eagles, have proven a lot of people wrong. They’ve put on two remarkable team efforts in the playoffs, with coach Doug Pederson stamping himself as one of the NFL’s best coaches. Eagles fans will gladly bring their dog masks to Minneapolis with them.
All it took Sunday was one play from the defense to turn the game in their favor. The Vikings were up 7-0 and had all the momentum. Defensive end Chris Long disrupted Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, who threw one up for grabs. Cornerback Patrick Robinson picked it off and managed a wonderful 50-yard return for a touchdown, running all the way across the field after it seemed he was hemmed in. The Eagles were in complete control after Robinson’s touchdown. That play will go down in Eagles lore.
The Eagles offense blasted the Vikings after that, which is a storyline nobody saw coming. Foles couldn’t have been much better against a Vikings defense that led the NFL in yards and points allowed this season. He was 15 of 22 for 208 yards in the first half. Foles finished with 352 yards and three touchdowns against perhaps the best defense in the NFL. His third-down magic late in the first half, avoiding a sack and somehow launching a deep pass to Alshon Jeffery for a 53-yard touchdown, was the moment Eagles fans could truly start to think about going to the Super Bowl. It was also the moment that reality started to creep in for the tough-luck Vikings, who were one step away from hosting a Super Bowl. Minnesota is now 0-6 in their last six NFC championship games. Like the Eagles, the Vikings have never won a Super Bowl.
It won’t be an easy task for the Eagles to get their first Lombardi Trophy. The last time the Eagles made the Super Bowl they were overmatched by a very good Patriots team. This seems familiar. The Patriots overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars on their way to their third Super Bowl in four seasons. Tom Brady is likely to be named the NFL MVP the night before the Super Bowl. The Patriots have lost once since Oct. 1. Before the season most people thought the Patriots would be in the Super Bowl, and here we are.
The Eagles won’t be expected to beat the Patriots. That doesn’t mean they can’t win, but it’ll be hard for most people to wrap their heads around Foles leading the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title. Wouldn’t that be some kind of underdog story though?
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