Eagles Embracing Moment as NFC Title Game Approaches
PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Eagles are one of four NFL teams still practicing at this point in the season. A win on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings will earn the Eagles a trip to the Super Bowl for the first time in 13 years.
The Eagles were heavily doubted by national pundits prior to their 15-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. It was the first playoff win in nine years for the Eagles and the first for many on the roster.
“I’m just happy to get the first playoff win of my career,” Center Jason Kelce explained. “I’ve been here for seven years and this is the first one. That kind of shows how hard it is to win in this league.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” Tight End Zach Ertz smiled. “Five years in the league, my rookie year we go to the playoffs and lose and we think we are going to be back every year. But we haven’t been back since now and it was definitely worth the wait.”
Players embrace the moment following a playoff win in different ways. Sure, they are all extremely excited to survive and advance. However, veterans seem to understand the gravity of the situation a little better than the younger players.
“Seven years in the league,” Kelce said while shaking his head. “The rookies and young guys probably have no idea. It is so hard to win in this league and so hard to be consistent. The level of margin between a playoff team and 8-8 is small. We have had a lot of mediocre years here where we have barely missed the playoffs. It has been a whirlwind of a seven years for me.”
“You don’t get it many times,” Safety Malcom Jenkins said. “This is my ninth year in the league and this is only my second time getting to this level, this stage. So we’ll enjoy it. We’ll get back to work. Focus back on our grind and get ready to complete next week.”
Earning a spot in the Conference Championship Game is impressive. However, the way this team has done it makes it even more amazing. The Eagles have lost Quarterback Carson Wentz, Running Back Darren Sproles, Left Tackle Jason Peters, Middle Linebacker Jordan Hicks and Special Teams Ace Chris Maragos all for the season. They also played eight games without starting corner Ronald Darby.
“I think it is a testament to the guys and the way this roster has been built,” Ertz shrugged. “We have a really deep roster. You can have an All-Pro team with some of the guys we have lost. We have a really resilient team and we love playing for each other and we love competing. I think you guys can see that.”
Add to the mix of players out for the season the fact that current starting Quarterback Nick Foles contemplated retirement a few years ago. Had that decision gone the other way, he would not have had the chance to make amends for the Wild Card loss to the New Orleans Saints in the 2013 playoffs.
“I feel like every person goes through moments in their life where it’s a big decision moment,” Foles declared. “That was it for me. And I’m glad I went through it. I’m a better person, better player, better father, better husband because of what I went through and having to decide that because I decided that with my family. It’s unbelievable to be up here. It’s very humbling to be up here and to go to the NFC Championship Game with the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s been a crazy ride, and I’m excited that I get to do it with these guys.”
Now Foles and the rest of the Eagles are one win away from earning a trip to the Super Bowl. Let that sink in, and one cannot help but appreciate how improbable this run has been and the amount of adversity this team has had to overcome.