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A Masterpiece Sends Eagles To The Super Bowl

Posted Jan 21, 2018

In a blink of an interception return for a touchdown, everything turned around in the Eagles’ favor on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in the NFC Championship Game against Minnesota. Patrick Robinson intercepted a pressured Case Keenum, followed an army of blocks on a spectacular 50-yard scoring return, and the Eagles never looked back in a resounding 38-7 win over the Vikings ...

In a blink of an interception return for a touchdown, everything turned around in the Eagles’ favor on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in the NFC Championship Game against Minnesota. Patrick Robinson intercepted a pressured Case Keenum, followed an army of blocks on a spectacular 50-yard scoring return, and the Eagles never looked back in a resounding 38-7 win over the Vikings.

Super Bowl LII, here we come!

It was an amazing day and a complete, thorough thrashing of Minnesota, which took its opening possession 75 yards in nine plays to jump out to a 7-0 lead. But after the Eagles went out with a score on their next possession, the defense stepped up. On third-and-8 from the Minnesota 43-yard line, Keenum had heat off the edge from Chris Long and threw a wobbler out to the right side. Robinson was there for the pick, headed up the sideline, and then cut across the field to the far sideline, and raced into the end zone. Jake Elliott’s PAT tied the game, and it was, in retrospect and kind of how it felt at the moment, over.

As the jam-packed crowd at Lincoln Financial Field danced and sang and cheered their underdog heads off, the Eagles got rolling and on the 12th play of the drive the next time they had the football, running back LeGarrette Blount ran through and over the Vikings on an 11-yard touchdown play to take a 14-7 lead.

They were just beginning.

Quarterback Nick Foles, playing the best game he’s played – big-moment division – shredded the Vikings defense with long touchdown passes to Alshon Jeffery (51 yards) and Torrey Smith (41 yards), deftly sliced the No. 1-ranked defense in the league with screens and underneath throws and finished the evening 26-of-33 for 352 yards with three touchdowns for a 141.4 QB rating. Foles was patient. He was calm. He threw with confidence and he moved in and out of the pocket brilliantly. The offensive line handled a very good Minnesota front and kept Foles clean as he worked into a groove and didn’t stop.

The Eagles converted 5 of 7 third downs in the first half and 10-of-14 overall against a Vikings defense that ranked first in the NFL during the regular season in that category, allowing an absurdly low 25 percent conversion rate. The Eagles, creative with their offensive scheme and riding the outstanding play of Foles, a running game that did enough to keep Minnesota off balance, and receivers who decidedly won battles down the field, kept the football and had the Vikings guessing all night.

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Defensively, it was a landslide. The Eagles dominated Minnesota’s newly aligned offensive line, and a key play in the game came late in the first half when defensive end Derek Barnett came off the edge from Keenum’s blind side on a third-and-5 from the Philadelphia 16-yard line, knocked the ball out of Keenum’s hand, and Chris Long recovered.

Five plays later, Foles stepped up in the pocket and heaved a bomb to a wide-open Jeffery for a 53-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead. For good measure, the Eagles took their final possession of the half from their own 20-yard line with 29 seconds remaining and in three plays moved to Minnesota’s 20-yard line – Foles completed two passes to Jay Ajayi for 24 yards and a 36-yard catch-and-run to tight end Zach Ertz and Elliott nailed a 38-yard field goal to send the Eagles into the half.

The Eagles scored 38 unanswered points, won the turnover battle 3-0, and had it all going on offense with three touchdown plays of 40-plus yards for the first time in NFL Championship Game history.

Incredible.

Everything worked, as it has for a team that lost so many key players all season. They’ve had the next-man-up mentality and they’ve meant it. A great roster buffeted by players who came in and understood their roles, the Eagles have had production at every corner of the roster in the course of winning 15 of their 18 games.

Next step, Minneapolis and the New England Patriots. But more on that later in the weeks to come. For now, it’s time to revel in the moment. The Eagles put it all together at the right time, head coach Doug Pederson pushed every right button and the Eagles showed just how dominating they are in the NFC.

The party started early in the morning in the parking lots in South Philadelphia on Sunday and it’s going to last for another couple of weeks, at least. This is a team to be celebrated, one that knows it has one more win to get to complete this remarkable mission.

And the fans? Boy, what another superlative performance from a city – and a world of Eagles fans – who have shown just how much love they have for this football team.

The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl!!!! The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl!!!! Somehow, you get the sense that this is just the beginning for a team that played its best game of the season on Sunday and won the NFC Championship.

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