EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –DeSean Jackson had a few words for the doubters as he hopped off the frosty Meadowlands turf after the Eagles' 23-11 romp of the defending Super Bowl champion Giants in Sunday's NFC Divisional playoff.
"Nobody believed! Nobody but us!" Jackson yelled, with his rookie buddy Quintin Demps close behind. "We believed! We all believed!"
Chances are that a few more subscribers to the Eagle way exist after Sunday, and a victory in next week's NFC Championship game at Arizona would help to set their names in stone.
But these Eagles, Jackson included, know what's at stake. The Eagles are playing in their fifth conference title game in eight years, but have just one Super Bowl appearance to boast from those games. As such, there's no ring for getting to the NFC Championship game, there's no trophy for unseating the defending champions and there's no glory with a loss next week.
Then, the heartbreak would become all the more real. So despite achieving "the impossible" for what seemed like the seventh week in a row, the Eagles have their feet firmly on the ground.
"It's expected for us to win football games. And it's expected for us to be in the NFC title game," said cornerback Sheldon Brown, who will be playing in his fourth NFC Championship. "Anything less is not a good season. We understand that. The veterans have been around too long and have had too much success. " Photo Gallery : PHI vs. NYG 1-11-09
But the successes for this team seem all the more surreal. Two weeks ago against Dallas, with some help, the Eagles rose from dead-in-the-water to kings-of-the-hill in a mere six hours, clinching the NFC's final playoff spot. This win against New York marks only the Eagles' third against a division rival this season, but they remain the final NFC East team standing.
Credit the Eagles for that. Though the Redskins nearly eliminated the Eagles from playoff contention in Week 16, the Eagles took it upon themselves to knock the Cowboys and Giants from the same perch. The Eagles joined the AFC's Baltimore Ravens in being No. 6 seeds that knocked off No. 1 seeds this playoff season, two of the only three times it's happened since the playoff format expanded in 1990.
The result is a matchup with the equally shocking Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium next week.
"It's all about staying together. It's not worrying about what the outside world feels about us. Everybody is just happy. (But) we're not done yet," Jackson said. "We still have to put in some good work. We're on the right track. It's beautiful right now. "
To keep it beautiful, the Eagles must avoid taking the Cardinals lightly. The Eagles beat Arizona 48-20 in Week 13, but the Cardinals can score points in bunches and they're a different team at home.
Is this title game appearance surprising? Sure. But when you've been to five of them in eight years, it gets old if you don't go to the Super Bowl.
Still, the Eagles are on Tampa's doorstep. There's work to be done.
"We'll enjoy this one for a little bit, but we've got to get our minds set for Arizona," head coach Andy Reid said. "But, like I said, you've got to enjoy it, but you've got to keep things in perspective here and understand that we've got another game."