From Nightmares to Dreams: Eagles are ringless no more
I'm putting my Eagles slander to bed.
For years I got such satisfaction from ringless jokes, my favorite of which the one of Donovan McNabb chilling next to a trophy case with a single can of Campbell's Chunky soup inside. They were the NFL's punching bag, and punching the Eagles when they were down felt fun for fans of fellow mediocre teams.
But the Eagles aren't mediocre anymore. In the wonkiest football season in recent memory, Philly overcame early-season injuries to their kicker (Caleb Sturgis), third-down running back (Darren Sproles), a leader in the defense (Jordan Hicks) and their All-Pro left tackle (Jason Peters) to surge towards the best record in the league & an NFC East crown. But when would've-been MVP Carson Wentz injured his ACL late in the season, everyone wrote the Eagles off.
Insert Nick Foles.
Foles is only four years removed from a Pro Bowl season where he led the NFL in passer rating and set the best TD-to-INT ratio (27-2) in history. He'd since fallen out of favor in an ugly Chip Kelly-led mess in Philadelphia, gotten shipped off to St. Louis for Sam Bradford and benched by the Rams, only to back up Alex Smith the next year in Kansas City. He contemplated calling it quits, and then Doug Pederson's Eagles called him back.
Eagles fans couldn't have predicted they would be on this stage with this quarterback. None of us did two months ago when Foles was thrusted into the starting job. Even less when he struggled mightily against New York and Dallas towards the end of the season. The Eagles were 13-3 and the top seed in the NFC, but they were anything but favorites.
The Falcons were favored to roll through Philly on their revenge tour. The Eagles defense held them to 10 points. The Vikings were practically given the NFC Championship after their stunning win over New Orleans the week before. Their fans even hit the Skol chant in front of the Rocky sign. The Eagles delivered the knockout blow.
And then with history, Tom Brady and the mighty New England Patriots staring them in the face, the underdogs rose to the occasion again. And it was the quarterback no one thought could pull it off leading the way.
Nick Foles played as outstanding a game as you could ask. He outplayed the greatest of all time in Tom Brady, throwing for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns; all on perfect strikes to Alshon Jeffery, Corey Clement and Zach Ertz to win the game. But it was the trick play to cap the first half that everyone will remember. Pederson and Foles fooled the Patriots defense all game, but none moreso than Trey Burton's touchdown PASS to Foles. It was a testament to the balls of Pederson and Foles to take risks in order to beat the best team of our generation.
It took a lot of risks to get the Eagles to this point, not counting the trick plays and fourth down gambles. The Eagles took a risk in bringing back an Andy Reid-coordinator, all of whom except one (John Harbaugh) have hoisted a Lombardi before. Alshon Jeffery took a risk on himself when he declared a Super Bowl victory without having a team last offseason; he signed a one-year deal, parlayed that into a new contract, and then made good on his promise. LeGarrette Blount and Chris Long bet on themselves as well, leaving the Patriots after capturing a ring to go play together in Philly.
And Nick Foles took a risk by not hanging them up when it felt all was lost. Now, the Super Bowl MVP is ready to cash in big time.
Eagles fans, your 365 days of uninterrupted shit talk begins now. Enjoy it. It was well earned.