Eagles’ resiliency interrupts New England dynasty

by Gary Shelton on February 5, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL

Monday, 4 a.m.

Today, the world belongs to Philadelphia. Celebrate, if you wish, by throwing full catsup packets at opposing fans.

Boo Santa. Heckle Mia Hamm. Punch a police horse.

Today, it's okay. You can jeer the world if you want. The Iggles are world champions, and nothing else matters.

It is a harsh town, Philly. A mean town, a town where they demand their sporting idols measure up. But they never had. Not until Sunday

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night, when the irascible fans of a city that championships forget saw their relentless Eagles take down the dynastic New England Patriots, 41-33.

As Super Bowl upsets go, this is near the top of the list. The Eagles had been underdogs in all three of their playoff games after losing starting quarterback Carson Wentz. In particular, onlookers struggled to believe the Eagles could derail a dynasty such as New England's. Why, Tom Brady was the best of all-time. Why, Bill Belchick was better than that. And so on.

They faced the amazing Tom Brady -- who threw for 505 yards against them. They fell behind late in the game.

Still, they won, behind ultra-reliever Nick Foles, who can now be compared to Jeff Hostetler and Doug Williams and the other quarterbacks who powered their teams through the playoffs and into the Super Bowl winners' circle.

Foles threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.

For football fans across the league, it was the perfect picture of resiliency. No matter which team you normally pull for, there were lessons.

For instance, if you are a Bucs fan, there were the familiar reminders of ball protection. Brady squandered a chance at a comeback when he fumbled while sacked by Brandon Graham. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Third downs, where the Bucs' struggled so mightily this year? There was a lesson there, too. The Eagles converted 12 of 18 on third and fourth downs.

Most of all, Philly had a calm, efficient quarterback who played within himself. Forget that Foles is a backup. He wasn't a backup through these playoffs. He was legend. He was lore.

"I felt calm. I mean, we have such a great group of guys, such a great coaching staff," Foles said. "We felt confident coming in, and we just went out there and played football."

Sounds simple, doesn't it? But the Eagles had to beat back the team that had ruled the decade in the Patriots. Now, all their fans can do is get used to a picture of noted foil Roger Goodell handing the Super Bowl trophy to the wrong team.

"They're all pretty disappointing," Brady said. "I mean, losing sucks. But you show up and you try to win and sometimes you lose and that's the way it goes."

Brady will likely be stuck with the memory of losing the ball with 2:16 to play when he suffered his only sack of the game and lost the ball.By the time Brady got the ball back, only 58 seconds remained.

"Obviously I didn't do a good enough job coaching"- Belichick said. "It wasn't quite enough against a good team like Philadelphia.

Along the way, the Eagles got some breaks. Corey Clement hauled in a touchdown pass and juggled it as he scored. Officials ruled he held it long enough, however. Tight end Zack Ertz scored and had the ball hit the ground and bounce upward, but officials ruled he had the ball long enough to become a runner and his touchdown counted since he broke the plane of the goal.

"If they had overturned that, I don't know what would have happened in the city of Philadelphia," said Ertz.

Ah, Philly. W.C. Fields made fun of it. Rocky tried to represent it, but met some resistance.

"If there is a word called 'everything,' that's what it means to Eagles fans," said owner Jeffrey Lurie. "And you know, this is for them. This is for them."

They'll replay the game a thousand times in Philadelphia, including "the Philly Special," a fourth-and-one play where Foles ended up catching a scoring pass from tight end Trey Burton.

"That was something we’d been working on, and Doug and I were talking – I was like, 'Let’s just run it.' And it was a good time," said Foles, the game's MVP. "And the end was a little wider than I thought, so I really needed to sell like I’m not doing anything. And it worked – Burton made an amazing throw right on the money; I just looked it in. We worked on it for a while (in practice), so I was excited for it to get a run in the Super Bowl."

On his team, Lurie said "It's the most unique, together group of men. I told them I've never seen an incredible group of men in all my years of life, that come together with all the adversity and injuries and losing our franchise quarterback, and you're world champs. Incredible group of men."

Said coach Doug Pederson: "I've got the best players in the world. It's a resilient bunch. Not only do we have the best fans in the world, we now have the best team in the world."

Not bad for a team that had been 7-9 last year and the year before.

Now, after interrupting the Patriots' dynasty, they may start one of their own.

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