Dear Philadelphia Eagles fans: Welcome back to New Orleans, where your miracle run ends vs. Saints
Dear Philadelphia Eagles fans,
You enjoyed the hospitality of the New Orleans Saints inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome just two short months ago.
Perhaps the details of that visit are a bit hazy. Maybe you overindulged on Bourbon Street.
More likely, you blocked out the memory of the smackdown the Saints delivered in the Dome. “Fly, Eagles, fly”? That afternoon, it was, “Cry, Eagles, cry.”
By the third quarter, the Eagles were thoroughly plucked and the Saints’ Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and Mark Ingram were dancing “Choppa Style” on the sidelines.
Brace yourselves for a “Choppa Style” encore during Sunday’s Saints-Eagles rematch in the NFC divisional playoffs. This game may go just as badly for you.
It’s nothing personal. My wife grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs. Philly certainly has its charms. It’s impossible to ponder the Liberty Bell and not feel a swell of patriotism. The Rocky Balboa statue downtown is cool. So is the Barnes Foundation’s crazy-quilt array of Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse and Renoir masterpieces.
And next time I’m in Pennsylvania and in need of a first-rate convenience store sandwich, I’ll treat myself to a hoagie at Wawa. That, friends, is good eatin’.
But your whole “City of Brotherly Love” thing apparently stops at the gates of Lincoln Financial Field, where you guys have earned a reputation for, shall we say, obnoxiousness. GQ magazine once named you the worst fans in all of sports.
Back in 2009, some of your brethren chanted “Ka-trin-a” at Saints fans in the stadium parking lot.
But you’re not all bad. My brother-in-law Joe is a hardcore Eagles partisan and an all-around good dude. He lives in Australia. It was already Monday when last year’s Super Bowl aired Down Under. He took the day off to host a Super Bowl party and wept with delirious joy when the Eagles finally clinched the Lombardi trophy.
I was happy for him. I really was.
Unfortunately, Joe and his brother Neil subsequently corrupted my 8-year-old boy. On Nov. 18, much to my chagrin, my only son wore an Eagles jersey to the Superdome.
Not that it did your team any good. By halftime, Sam wanted to switch to my Saints cap.
And by halftime this Sunday, you may be ready to head out in search of the superior, local equivalent of a hoagie, the po-boy (order the roast beef, shrimp or oyster, dressed).
There’s been a lot of talk about how the Eagles aren’t the same team that got blown out by the Saints in November. Since then, Nick Foles has replaced the injured Carson Wentz at quarterback, just as he did late in your magical Super Bowl season.
And once again, Foles, despite banged-up ribs, has led the Eagles to a string of impressive, if improbable, victories.
But Nick Foles is no Rocky Balboa, and he doesn’t play on defense. Thus, the Eagles will field essentially the same defense upon which Drew Brees and company hung 48 points eight weeks ago.
During last weekend’s wild card game in Chicago, your defense held the heavily favored Bears to 15 measly points. But the Eagles still would have lost if not for a remarkable — no, miraculous — turn of events.
As time expired, Bears kicker Cody Parkey’s potentially game-winning field goal attempt hit the goalpost’s left upright, veered downward into the crossbar, and bounced harmlessly away — a virtually impossible “double-doink” trajectory.
Was it fate? Physics? The hand of God?
Doesn’t really matter. That was your Minneapolis Miracle.
You remember the Minneapolis Miracle (or, from the Saints’ perspective, the Minneapolis Mishap)? In last year’s divisional-round playoffs, the Saints were on the verge of an against-all-odds comeback victory over the Vikings.
Then Saints safety Marcus Williams, with a clear shot at Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, whiffed, and Diggs scored a game-winning touchdown as time expired.
Was it fate? Physics? The hand of God?
Doesn’t really matter. The end result was the Saints went home and the Vikings went on to face, yes, the Eagles.
By the time the Vikings arrived in Philadelphia, they’d used up all of their miracles — and all of their offense, defense, emotion, skill, confidence and common sense, too. They had nothing left; you guys stomped them.
Does this scenario sound familiar? It should. Against Chicago, you were the equivalent of last season’s Vikings, winning a hard-fought playoff game with a last-second miracle.
And thus you earned the “privilege” of facing the Saints. In the Superdome. On the day before the one-year anniversary of the Minneapolis Miracle/Mishap.
If you’re last season’s Vikings, that would make the Saints last season’s Eagles. We’re positioned to do to you what you did to the Vikings.
Ironic, isn’t it?
Actually, we’re not last year’s Eagles. We’re this year’s Saints.
And you should find that even scarier.