A game that many predicted would be a one-sided affair turned out much closer than expected, as the Eagles took an early lead and held on by a thread, defeating the Dallas Cowboys, 24-22, to capture the NFC East and head back to the playoffs for the 1st time in three years.
Cowboys backup QB Kyle Orton played well for most of the game , until he finally developed a case of “Romo-itis” and threw an interception into the waiting hands of cornerback Brandon Boykin, eventually sealing Dallas’ fate with 1:43 left in the game.
With Sunday’s outcome, it is now three consecutive years that the Cowboys have lost a “win or go home” game on the last week of the regular season. And with Jerry Jones as owner and Jason Garrett remaining as head coach for at least another year, it doesn’t look likely that anyone will be capable enough to perform the “Heimlich maneuver” to keep Dallas from choking anytime soon.
With the win, the Chip Kelly experiment has advanced much further than anyone expected in the span of one year, and with a wildcard playoff game at home looming against the New Orleans Saints this Sat. night, it truly is the “most wonderful time of the year” for Birds fans.
The carcass that was left over after last year’s disastrous 4-12 campaign has all been swept away and in its place, stands what could be the foundation for something special to be built over the next few years. And while the Eagles are still a long shot to win the Superbowl this year, they are now playing with house money for the remainder of the season.
Come sundown Saturday night, like a vampire that survives in darkness by feeding on the blood of the living, a fan base that has not experienced a championship in 53 seasons will be thirsty for blood in the form of the New Orleans Saints. And by kickoff (approximately 8:10 PM), the desire to be “fed” will be at an all-time high, with fans most likely having “fueled up” hours before the start.
The Saints, when playing in their climate controlled dome, with its Mardi Gras revelry, and its concession stand menus that poke fun at the visiting team, can be almost superhuman on offense, with QB Drew Brees driving the offense like a Ferrari. But like most “hothouse” teams, put them outdoors in the elements of a northeast corridor or midwest winter, and the weather becomes a natural “kryptonite” of sorts.
For the Saints, it will begin when they first walk out on the field to be introduced, with a hearty Philadelphia welcome….BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
And the first time that New Orleans is faced with a 3rd and long, with the crowd noise deafening, and temps in the low 20’s, suddenly the football that is usually an asset to Drew Brees will be more like a frozen popsicle and a liability.
Play this game on a neutral field, and the Saints are clear favorites. But in the outdoors, with the Eagles 12th man (and wo-man) on their side, there is no reason the Birds cannot come out victorious…as long as they don’t assume that the thermometer will be out on the field to make a sack or an interception on their behalf.
This game is clearly winnable as long as the Eagles play an error free game and remember, as Chip Kelly astutely pointed out, that even Tampa finally got a cold weather win in Philadelphia on their way to an eventual Super Bowl…
2 Street after the Mummers parade on New Years Day meets Mardi Gras, and 2 Street comes out victorious, 30-24.
Fly Eagles Fly, on the road to Carolina…
Wildcard Weekend (all times in EST and on Saturday or Sunday):
Chiefs at Colts 4:35 PM NBC (Sat) – The Chiefs started out 9-0, a stretch in which they played only one team with a winning record (the Eagles). But as soon as their schedule got tough, they withered down the stretch, going 0-5 when facing playoff teams, including the Colts two weeks ago. Andy Reid still has a “timeout” problem and it will rear its ugly head again as the Chiefs season ends in Indy.
Saints at Eagles 8:10 PM NBC (Sat)
Chargers at Bengals 1:05 PM CBS (Sun) – A rematch of the 1981 AFC Championship when it was 4 degrees fahrenheit and a wind chill of -29…or something like that. While not in the forecast to be anywhere near as cold, not exactly San Diego weather in the Queen city this Sunday either..
49ers at Packers 4:40 PM FOX (Sun) – Speaking of cold, a high of ZERO in the forecast and wind chills in the -30 range in Green Bay this Sunday. Guess I shouldn’t be crying about sitting in 25 degree weather at the Linc this Sat night.