Point of No Return — Eagles face huge challenge after beating odds

Date Published: 
Feb. 2, 2018

On Wednesday morning, those with a clear view were able to see a “super blood moon” lunar eclipse — apparently the first one in more than 150 years.

In continuing this week of awe-inspiring and rare sights, the Philadelphia Eagles were poised to play in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

To be fair, this is not the Eagles’ first time in the big game. Super Bowl LII will be the Eagles’ IIIrd time in “the dance,” following appearances in Super Bowls XV and XXXIX. To date, if my math is correct, the Eagles have thus far won... let’s see... if you carry the II and divide the number of Super Bowls by VI...

It’s 0. The answer you’re looking for is 0.

Things were looking great for the Eagles to pick up their first championship of the Super Bowl era this year. Their second-year star quarterback Carson Wentz was playing like a legitimate MVP candidate, and the team was off to a roaring 10-2 start. With a strong defense and efficient running game behind him, it seemed like Wentz was about to become the most beloved Philadelphia sports icon since Rocky Balboa, and lead his team to a Super Bowl win that would result in a rocking victory parade down Broad Street.

But then Wentz tore his anterior cruciate ligament. The ACL. The three most feared letters to an NFL player outside of “IRS.”

Those three little letters instantly erased the Eagles from the national conversation on potential Super Bowl champions. Even my friends and family members who proudly drape themselves in the kelly green fell into an emotional abyss following Wentz’s injury, and my Facebook feed contained more profanity than a McCann family vacation.

“Well,” offered one optimistic Eagles-fan friend of mine, “if Nick Foles doesnt make any stupid mistakes, we can win a playoff game. We won’t win a Super Bowl now or anything, but we could win a game in the playoffs.”

And they did. They slipped past the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons in a tight 15-10 game that left a nation of football fans sitting on the edges of their seats. The Eagles rode that impressive defensive line and running game, and got just enough out of Foles to advance to the NFC Championship game. The season, it would seem, was now a success for Eagles fans. They got further than anyone thought, and next year promised great things with the return of a healthy Carson Wentz.

But something else happened the following day in the NFC playoffs that would boost the confidence of Eagles fans once again.

Against all odds and probabilities, the Minnesota Vikings beat the New Orleans Saints on a miracle last-second play to advance to play the Eagles in the NFC Championship. The Vikings have a great team, particularly on defense, but Eagles fans were seemingly more afraid of playing against the Saints and their all-world quarterback Drew Brees. That same optimistic Eagles fan told me, “No way could the Eagles beat Brees without Wentz. But they can beat Minnesota in a defensive game if Foles plays well. The Eagles can win this game.”

I doubted him, but saw his logic. Still, I figured Minnesota would win the game, and I thought they would win big, to be honest.

Minnesota got the ball first and marched right down the field against that Eagles defense, notching a touchdown to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead, as one could almost hear the air being sucked out of Lincoln Financial Stadium. I giggled a little bit to myself and fired off a text ot two to some Eagles fans I felt like tormenting, and giggled even more over their responses.

Oh, there’s another element in this story, by the way. My wife and her family are all Eagles fans. You know that saying, “Happy wife, happy life?” Well, it does not pay to giggle, even a little bit, when the Eagles are losing and your Eagle-fan wife is sitting three feet away from you. I dropped the phone and took my daughter into another room, seemingly safe from whatever eruption was bound to happen if the game got out of hand.

Well, it did get out of hand, alright.

The Eagles responded by scoring the next XXXVIII points of the game, and advanced to this weekend’s Super Bowl via a 38-7 trouncing of the Vikings. Their prize, outside of winning the NFC championship?

Tom Brady.

I am a fan of the Baltimore Ravens. As part of that commitment, there are three things I absolutely disdain in the National Football League — the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tom Brady and... nope, that’s pretty much it. We don’t like the Steelers. And we don’t like Tom Brady, or his cheating, no-good, dirty New England Patriots and their cheating, no-good coach...

But I digress.

The problem with Brady is that he’s good. He’s really, really good. This is a subjective statement to be sure, but the two best quarterbacks I have ever seen, particularly when the pressure is on, are Joe Montana and Tom Brady. He’s that good.

The other problem the Eagles are going to be running into is the Patriots’ head coach, Bill Belichick. Again, another subjective statement, but the two best coaches I’ve ever seen in the NFL are Bill Belichick at the top and... everybody else. He’s that good.

So, yeah, the Eagles are set to play the Super Bowl without their MVP-candidate quarterback, against arguably the greatest quarterback-coach pairing of all time. It doesn’t sound like a recipe for success. It’s more like a recipe for disaster.

But, what the heck? Eagles 20, Patriots 17. Get that ring.