Eagles

Eagles

BOX SCORE

I've said it all year. With Carson Wentz or without Carson Wentz, there is something special about this football team.

Inexperienced head coach? Backup quarterback? A guy named Big V playing left tackle? It doesn't matter. Because this is the ultimate team sport, and the 2017 Eagles are the ultimate team (see story).

Doug Pederson is their coach. Nick Foles is their quarterback. And they're headed to the Super Bowl.

Vegas can say this was an upset, but this wasn't an upset. The Eagles destroyed the Vikings Sunday night at the Linc, spotting them a 7-0 lead and then scoring the game's final 38 points to win the NFC Championship Game, 38-7 (see breakdown).

No contest.

Take that weak Skol crap back to Minnesota. We're taking over your city next week!

Here we go with an NFC Championship Game edition of Roob's 10 observations.

1. Foles is going to quarterback the Eagles in the Super Bowl. Just think about that for a moment or two (see story). What Foles has done since replacing Wentz is nothing short of astonishing. Forget the Dallas game in which the starters played only a quarter. The Eagles haven't lost since the NFL MVP got hurt. Foles was magnificent Sunday night, completing 26 of 33 passes for 352 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His pocket presence was off the charts, as was his accuracy. Foles has gotten more and more comfortable with each passing game, and this one was a work of art. That guy has been through so much, both this year and over the last few years. For him to play like that on this stage with so much at stake is just mind-blowing. I'm so happy for him.

 

2. What a masterful play-calling performance by Pederson (see report card). This is a guy who never coached a game above the high school level until 16 months ago. And he just put up 31 points on the best defense in the NFL in an NFC Championship Game with his backup quarterback. Pederson got Foles into a rhythm early, he was creative, he ran the ball enough and he dialed up some plays that were simply unstoppable. Pederson has grown so much in so many ways, but his flair for play-calling is just off the charts right now (see story).

3. Talk about a momentum changer. Patrick Robinson's interception and brilliant 50-yard return was the play of the game (see story). The Eagles trailed, 7-0, after the Vikings opened the game with a methodical 75-yard TD drive, and they had the ball again near midfield when P-Rob picked off Case Keenum near the left sideline at midfield, reversed field and ran across the field and into the end zone at the right pylon. It reminded me of Eric Allen's miracle 94-yard pick-six against Boomer Esiason and the Jets back in 1993. Not quite as remarkable but pretty darn impressive. Here's a guy who was on the brink of being released back in training camp, and he's done nothing but give the Eagles smart, heady playmaking in the slot all year. That's five INTs for Robinson, which makes him only the sixth player in franchise history with five INTs in a season after turning 30. The 50-yarder is the longest postseason pick-six by anybody in their 30s since Rodney Harrison's 87-yarder off Ben Roethlisberger in the 2004 AFC Championship Game. Robinson is so typical of this team. A guy nobody wanted. With his fourth team in four years. Making a play to help his team reach the Super Bowl. And let's not forget the pressure by Chris Long and the downfield block by Ronald Darby. That play was huge, and the Vikings never recovered.

4. Let's get one thing straight. This was not an upset. Maybe according to Las Vegas it was, but anybody who has watched the Eagles this year knows that in this building, it's going to take a superhuman effort by a Hall of Fame quarterback to put up enough points to win a football game in this building. Keenum made a few plays, but he was just overmatched. He was forced to throw 48 times, completed 28, got picked off twice and really did nothing after that TD pass five minutes into the game. Tremendous stuff from the Eagles' pass rush to make him uncomfortable and the secondary for blanketing some pretty good receivers.

 

5. Once again, the Eagles' offensive balance was one of their biggest weapons. Good luck trying to figure out where the ball is going. Alshon Jeffery was 5 for 85. Zach Ertz 8 for 93. Torrey Smith 5 for 69. Nelson Agholor 3 for 59. All four of those guys caught at least one deep ball. When Foles was having his All-Pro season in 2013, he always spread the ball around like this, and, man, this felt just like it. I thought Ertz was a beast, once again proving wrong everybody who says he doesn't get any yards after the catch. Jeffery, you could just see him and Foles developing more and more chemistry over the past few weeks, and he is such a weapon in the end zone. Smith had a bad drop early but made up for it with the TD on the flea flicker. And Agholor continues to just do his job. 

6. And think about this: The Eagles are the first team since the 1996 Packers to win the NFC without a 1,000-yard receiver or rusher. Who was on that 1996 Packers team? Doug Pederson.

7. The Eagles' defense heard the national media blabber all week about how the Vikings' defense was the best in the NFL, and then it went out and showed the world who actually has the best defense in the NFL. This was another monumental performance by the Eagles' defense, holding a decent Vikings offense to just seven points on one early touchdown. This Eagles defense just gives you nothing. It's playing incredibly well as a unit. Tremendous pressure. Consistent coverage. Terrific tackling. This unit has now allowed six touchdowns and 59 points in its last seven home games, which is absolutely absurd. The challenge will be more difficult on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis, but the way this defense is playing, nothing would surprise me.

8. How great was it that after throwing the ball up and down the field all night, the Eagles were able to run the clock in the final minutes running the ball? After Corey Graham's interception with six minutes left, Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement ran six times for 40 yards to run out the clock. The Eagles haven't been super consistent running the football the last few weeks, but even with that big lead and the Vikings crowding the line of scrimmage, they were able to run clock effectively and move the chains. Those three backs combined for 26 carries for 114 yards. That's going to be huge once they build up a big lead over the Patriots in two weeks.

 

9. Here's a list of quarterbacks in NFL postseason history who've completed 75 percent of their passes in back-to-back games: Joe Montana. And Foles.

10. Eagles-Patriots. Once again everybody is going to pick the Eagles to lose. Once again, I'm going to repeat this over and over and over: Doubt the 2017 Eagles at your own risk.