Shock. Delusion. But mostly confusion. That about summarizes my feelings towards the NFC Championship game featuring the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings.
Let’s start at the beginning with an improbable and surprising quarterback matchup featuring Nick Foles (Eagles) and Case Keenum (Vikings), two guys that started the season as a backup only to be thrust into the starting role because of injury. Two guys that no one would have pegged as starting an NFC Title game. Two guys that no one could have imagined starting a Super Bowl. But here we are.
As if the mere setup wasn’t enough to shock and confuse your average football fan, then the outcome of Sunday’s NFC Championship was enough to leave you stunned and rethinking those shots you took during the Jags-Patriots game.
The No. 1 seeded Eagles, who have been an underdog since the playoffs began, made it damn clear that they can compete — and win — without starting quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles stomped on the league’s best defense with a 38-7 drubbing of the Vikings to win the NFC Championship and advance to Super Bowl 52, where they will face the New England Patriots.
The Vikings might’ve struck first, but the Eagles scored 38 unanswered points in a game that was over early. Once Foles and the offense and this dominant defense took control, it was over quick. Well, it dragged on for four quarters as the Vikings could only watch
Believe it or not there was a time when Nick Foles was a productive quarterback when he played with the Eagles in Chip Kelly’s offense. When the mere mention of Nick Foles wasn’t enough to make you laugh — as if Nick Foles could perform even competently, yet alone well enough to lead his team to an NFC Championship.
Foles tore apart the league’s best defense — posting 31 points (the other 7 came from the defense on a Keemun pick-6), 352 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Oh, and most importantly, 0 turnovers. Carson Wentz, who? (Okay, let’s not get carried away, guys.)
As for the defense that Foles destroyed, disappointment isn’t the word to describe it. Embarrassment is more accurate. This was a team that had given up an average of 15.8 points per game all season. This was a team that hadn’t allowed 20 points in a first half all season — until the Eagles put up 24 in Sunday’s first half. They allowed 31 points and 456 yards to a Foles-led offense.
The defensive performance by Minnesota was enough to make this Bears fan feel like, with a new offensive coach and new offensive scheme and added weapons with their young franchise quarterback, that her team can also slay the dragon that is/was the Vikings defense.
But let’s give some credit — a lot of credit — to the vaunted Eagles defense that played like you would have expected in a game of this magnitude; how you expected the Vikings defense to have performed instead of falling flat on their faces in front of millions.
Philadelphia’s defense held one of the league’s most productive offenses to 7 points. They also forced 3 turnovers, including a Keemun pick-6 and a fumble that led to an Eagles touchdown.
For a team coming off an improbable last-second victory in last week’s Divisional game, the game was merciless. Sorry, Minnesota. You already used up your miracle last week.
Philadelphia is a crazy sports town. And this improbable victory — that wasn’t so improbable when all was said and done — is enough to send Eagles fans into a craze.
Careful with those Crisco-covered poles, Eagles fans.
So it’s on to Minnesota — to play the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. Let the story of improbability continue as it marches on to the sport’s ultimate stage. Let’s just say this city knows a little something about underdogs.