The Eagles didn’t celebrate their NFC Championship win for very long. By the time the players hit the locker room, they were already looking ahead to their Super Bowl LII matchup against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
No surprise, the Eagles aren’t in awe of Brady, no matter how many world titles he’s won.
“He’s definitely the greatest quarterback of all-time, but that doesn’t mean he’s unbeatable,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said after the Eagles’ 38-7 win over the Vikings. “We have a destination that we’re getting to no matter who’s in front of us.
“We have somewhere to go. We’re not worried about what’s in front of us. We’re going to run through whoever it is.”
Brady and the Patriots will be gunning for their sixth Super Bowl championship when the teams collide in Minneapolis on Feb. 4. They can also win their third in four years for the second time, and it will be their eighth trip to the big game in 17 seasons. Their level of success is truly unparalleled in NFL history.
Yet, if Jenkins and his teammates are lacking a healthy fear of the Patriots — even relishing the opportunity to play the reigning champs — that’s simply because the Eagles feel they belong on this stage.
“I think we match up well,” Jenkins said. “They have a real good scheme where they isolate people, but if there’s any defense out there that can match up with every single person, I think it’s this defense, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Jenkins played a major role in the last meeting between the Eagles and Patriots. The Pro Bowl safety had a 99-interception return for a touchdown — one of two Brady turnovers — in a 35-28 victory back during the 2015 regular season.
The Patriots wouldn’t go on to win the Super Bowl that year, coming up short in the conference title game instead, but were again defending champions at the time. The Eagles weren’t scared then, and they certainly aren’t scared now.
They’re not merely willing to stand up to the bully in the schoolyard. It almost sounds as if the Eagles are trying to pick the fight.
“Pretty boy Tom Brady,” Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson said. “He's the best quarterback of all-time, so nothing I'd like to do more than dethrone that guy.”
It’s going to take more than tough talk to knock off the greatest quarterback and dynasty in NFL history. Then again, the Eagles have faced as many or more challenges than perhaps any team to ever reach the big game.
If the Eagles were able to persevere all the way to this point, overcoming rampant skepticism and countless injuries, defeating the Patriots in the Super Bowl shouldn’t seem improbable at all.
“All of the adversity we faced early in the season — we were on the road three out of the first four games, had all these injuries early — all of that prepared for us this time to where anything can happen out there, and this team is going to be unfazed,” Jenkins said.
“Everything that we’ve done throughout this whole year has prepared us to be at this moment. We’re more confident than ever that we’re not just going to the Super Bowl to feel good about making it.
“We’re going to win, and that’s everybody’s mentality on this team.”