The year was 2003, and the scene in Miami was impossibly Midnight Green. Eagles fans flocked to see the Eagles play the Dolphins and turned Miami into Philadelphia South. It was an incredible fan weekend, proof positive of how passionate and devoted the fans are to the Eagles. By the time the Eagles finished off the Dolphins, 34-27, the Philadelphia fans were singing in the stands and the Dolphins fans were scurrying for the exits.
Eagles fans turned a tough road game into a "home" feel for the players and coaches. And as the Eagles return to the playoffs for the seventh time in Andy Reid's 10 seasons as head coach, the fans have another opportunity to make an impact. From what I know, from what the fans are telling me, the move is already on to storm into the Metrodome and make that stadium a sea of Midnight Green on Sunday. Fans called into Eagles Live! on Monday talking about their plans to make the trip. Travel agencies in Philadelphia were busy fielding phone calls and making arrangements. Industrious fans spent most of the day on the Internet Monday scheduling their trip -- round-trip airfare, a hotel and game ticket from Philadelphia without much of a hassle and with reasonable costs are there for the taking.
The buzz has started. The groundswell of support is already very much underway.
How does a weekend in Minneapolis sound? There are plenty of tickets available for this game. The Metrodome is a hostile, nasty place and the Vikings have a decided home-field advantage. It seems to me that a great way to celebrate the New Year and to get a close-up view of the Eagles as they start their playoff run is to be right there for the action.
This probably is something you are already considering, given the great support the fans provide the Eagles on the road. There are thousands of fans wearing their Midnight Green every time the Eagles go on the road. And there is nothing better than listening to the E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES! chants late in a game the Eagles are controlling away from Lincoln Financial Field.
With so much momentum generated by a thrilling December surge, and brought to beyond the boiling point by the events on Sunday, the enthusiasm meter is shooting off the chart.
So make the plan. Minneapolis is a cool city and the Eagles would benefit from your support on the road. Is there a better way to kick off a new year? A road trip to see the Eagles play the Vikings sounds to me like a party you won't want to miss.
* A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND A LITTLE BIT OF THAT *
- The Eagles did a fine job last season against Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, limiting him to 70 yards on 20 carries in a 23-16 win on October 28, 2007. Fourteen of Peterson's 20 carries went for 2 yards or less. The Eagles crowded the line of scrimmage and rallied to Peterson to tackle him, which is what teams need to do. One man isn't going to bring down Peterson. All 11 players need to buzz around the ball. Minnesota managed just 256 yards of offense that day and converted only 3 of 12 third downs. This is a different Vikings team, however. Kelly Holcomb and Brooks Bollinger quarterbacked the Minnesota offense that day. Now the Vikings are going with Tavaris Jackson, who has played well down the stretch. And wide receiver Bernard Berrian gives Minnesota a deep threat it did not have a year ago.
- A lack of red-zone efficiency hurt the Eagles in that game as they converted just 2 of 5 opportunities inside the Minnesota 20-yard line. David Akers kicked three short field goals. Had the Eagles scored touchdowns instead of field goals ...
- In case you missed it, here is the way the 2009 regular season schedule looks for the Eagles, outside of the home-and-home games within the division: home games against New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Denver, Kansas City and San Francisco, and road games at Oakland, San Diego, Chicago, Atlanta and Carolina.
- Remember, the Eagles have two first-round draft picks (one from Carolina), an extra fifth-round draft pick from Cleveland and a sixth-round selection from Minnesota (acquired in the Kelly Holcomb trade). Where those first-round picks fall will be determined by the playoff results.
- Sounds like tight end L.J. Smith is the only question mark early in the week as far as practice time Wednesday and Thursday. It is unlikely that either defensive end Victor Abiamiri or offensive guard Shawn Andrews will practice this week or play on Sunday. Andrews first needs clearance from his doctor in California before he practices. Head coach Andy Reid described Andrews' progress as "phenomenal" the last couple of weeks.
- The Vikings think defensive tackle Pat Williams will play after missing a couple of games with a broken shoulder. He is a fantastic inside player and a load to move. Can the Eagles establish the running game between the tackles? It is an important key for the game. The Vikings are also waiting to find out the results on defensive end Ray Edwards' MRI. He suffered an ankle injury in Sunday's win over the Giants.
- Be thankful that, in a noisy, nasty environment, the Eagles have veterans as their offensive tackles. Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan won't flinch in the chaos that is the Metrodome as the Eagles use a silent count to run the offense. Thomas, by the way, did a great job against DeMarcus Ware on Sunday, and he has another huge challenge against Jared Allen this week.
- The Eagles finished the regular season ranked ninth in total offense and third in total defense. The Giants are the only other team to make the claim that both their offense and defense finished in the top 10 in both total offense and total defense. Some other defensive ranks: second in total yards per play, fourth in rushing yards per game, fourth in yards per rush, second in passer rating, third in sacks per pass play, second in third-down efficiency and fourth in points per game.
- After just 18 takeaways last season, the Eagles registered 29 in 2008 to rank fourth in the NFC. Last year, the Eagles had just 11 interceptions and this year they had 15, and, of course, the fumble recoveries jumped up big time.
- David Akers finished second in the NFL with 144 points, and he also set a career high with 17 touchbacks on kickoffs.
- A defensive key to success: The Eagles led the NFC and were second in the NFL (to Pittsburgh) in yards allowed per play on first down, 4.12 yards per first down play.
- Quintin Demps led the Eagles in special teams production points during the season and he, along with Sean Considine, Tracy White, Akeem Jordan and Tank Daniels, formed a much-improved core group for Rory Segrest. How about Considine? He was all over the field on Sunday on special teams. He and Demps dominated in coverage.