The Eagles are Super Bowl Champions…….CHAMPIONS By: Peter Snyder

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The Eagles are Super Bowl Champions and for the first time ever, the Lombardi Trophy will be coming down South Broad Street and the beautiful species that are Philadelphia Eagles fans will get to celebrate it in all it’s glory. But lets rewind. Let’s take it back to April 27, 2017. The sun rises over a beautiful Philadelphia skyline, the city of brotherly love, as the first round of the NFL Draft is just hours away. The draft would not only take place in Philadelphia, but at the historic “Rocky Steps” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. With their first round pick, the Eagles selected an explosive defensive end from Tennessee that goes by the name of Derek Barnett. A question quickly arises however;  how much of an impact can this rookie actually make on the team this season? Only time would tell  as he walked onto the stage. The Philadelphia crowd erupted and you could hear chants of “fly eagles fly” as if you were there. It was a special moment, a special weekend and nobody would have guessed this was the start of the greatest time of our lives.

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Now fast forward to September 10, 2017, the season opener. The Eagles were coming off of a 7-9 record the year prior and had finished last in the NFC East. The expectations for the season were high however, as they had a young phenom at the quarterback position in Carson Wentz, had added talent at the skill position in the offseason in the likes of LeGarrette Blount and Alshon Jeffery and were expected to have Lane Johnson for an entire season. Their week one matchup paired them with a division rival, the Washington Redskins, who had a talented QB in Kirk Cousins who was looking to start his season with a  big fat W. Although The Eagles looked sloppy at times, they came away with a huge divisional road game win and won a game in a place they had previously had struggled in. The Eagles were 1-0 on the year, but again nobody could imagine what would transpire in the months to come.

Fast forward to December 10, 2017, week 14 of the NFL season. The Eagles were in California where they would face a talented Rams team who had one of the most explosive offenses in all of football. Coming into the game, the birds were clicking on all cylinders, had a 10-2 record  and were considered favorites to win the NFC.  A lot of their success throughout the season had been credited to QB Carson Wentz. Wentz was well on his way to winning the MVP but on an average play in the third quarter, tragedy struck. Wentz was hit in the right knee while diving for the end zone, and it was later confirmed that he had torn his ACL. He was done for the year, and it was a dark, dark day for Eagle fans far and wide. Why us? This season was going  so well and this can not be how it ends. Now after the injury, the national media totally ruled the Eagles out and they could have been the Browns for all they cared, but this team would not lose hope and knew how talented they were, even without their best player on the field. The whole year had been a next man up trend and this was not different. In this case, the next man up  was Nick Foles. A former Eagles QB who took an Eagles team just a few years ago to a playoff game and left the field with a lead. There is no question that the talent was there but the question that was brought up was if the talent was still there. Foles first game as a starter  in 2017 was against a struggling New York Giants team where he looked good, but against an awful defense so how much was it really showing?  His next game was on Christmas night at home against the Oakland Raiders who had a notably better defense than the Giants so it was clear that this would be Foles first true test. He failed the test. Although it was cold, Foles looked like a washed up backup, going 19-38 on pass attempts and only throwing for 163 yards in the air. The Eagles won, but it seemed like they had lost. Foles would have to prove himself in week 17 to give Eagles fans some confidence going into the playoffs. He did not. Although he only played a few possessions, he looked lost and at points certain people actually wanted Nate Sudfeld, the Eagles third string QB who had barely played actual minutes in the NFL, to START in the playoffs. But again, this team never lost hope and they believed in each other. They were all they had but they were all they needed. They came into the playoffs as the one seed, but were underdogs going into their first playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons. A one seed has never been an underdog in their first playoff game so this was used as a huge motivator for the Eagles. They adopted the underdog theory and embraced it. Nick Foles also had something to prove and boy did he. He played with confidence and thanks to an incredible performance by the defense, the Eagles had defeated the Falcons by a score of 15-10 and advanced to the NFC Championship game. After the game, OT Lane Johnson broke out a dog mask, put it on, barked and showed the world that this team is an underdog. So be it; let us eat.

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The Eagles were turning into a team of destiny and standing in their way from a Super Bowl appearance was a team that felt they had destiny on their side as well; the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings were coming off of a miracle win against the Saints just a week ago and were also just one win away from being the first team ever to host a Super Bowl. They also had the leagues best defenses and were favored to win the game. Cake walk right? Well if you think you are just going to come into Philadelphia and take a win in January you are just dead wrong. The Eagles embraced the underdog mantra again, playing inspired football from start to finish to prove America wrong.  At the time though, they didn’t really need to prove it because like they had said all season, “We all we got, we all we need.” The Vikings didn’t know what hit them and this game wasn’t even a contest. The Eagles were headed to Super Bowl 52 with a dominating 38-7 win. Nick Foles played the game of his life, throwing for 352 yards in the air to go along with 3 TD passes that included a beautiful flea flicker to Torrey Smith. Foles showed the world that he was there to compete and was not going to be scared of the bright lights.

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The Eagles were in Super Bowl LII and the only thing that would stop them from winning their first ever Super Bowl was perhaps the best dynasty in all of sports, The New England Patriots. They were going to have to slay the beast that is Tom Brady and dethrone the king that is Bill Belichick. The Patriots were 13-3 on the year, had an offense that, at times looked unstoppable and you guessed it, were favored to win the game. For the third straight time, the Philadelphia Eagles had been an underdog but if you thought that affected them negatively in any way you can keep dreaming. They say when the lights are the brightest, the legends come out to play and that couldn’t be more true. We all knew that Tom Brady is a legend and is going to show up and ball out but a star was born on Sunday, a star that goes by the name of Nick. Nick Foles came into this game like he was playing in his 8th Super Bowl and did not show one ounce of nerves. He was feeling it early, connecting for 15 quick points, including a beautiful 34 TD pass to Alshon Jeffery and an offensive flow that was a thing of beauty to watch. Unfortunately for the Birds, you could not say the same about the defense. The Patriots offense moved the ball with ease and at points in the ball game it seemed as if the Patriots were going to put up 7 every time 12 touched the ball.  One of they key points in the ball game came late in the second half when the Eagles had the ball at the 2 yard line, and had a huge decision to make on 4th down. An average, conservative coach would take the points, especially in the Super Bowl, but Doug Pederson is anything but an average coach and has had balls of steal the entire year. The birds went for it and drew up one of the most electric, creative, well designed plays you will ever see and will go down in Super Bowl history forever.

The Eagles went into the locker room with a 22-12 halftime lead and were just 30 minutes away from their first ever Super Bowl. The Patriots received the ball to start the half and their halftime message was clear; feed the ball to Gronk. In the first drive of the second half, Tom Brady went to his main guy, Rob Gronkowski time after time and the Patriots scored to start the second half before you could even blink and the score was now 22-19 in favor of the Birds. With their first possession of the second half, the Eagles did what they had done the entire season, respond. Nick Foles constructed another beautiful drive that was capped off by a huge third down conversion by Nick Foles who threw a beauty of a 22 yard TD pass to back up RB, Corey Clement. The Eagles were back up by 10 but you know when your playing the Patriots, there is no room to breathe.

The Pats went back to work quickly, and Brady started to look unstoppable and I use that in the literal sense. He was slicing up the Eagles secondary with a butter knife and threw his second TD pass of the game to Chris Hogan to tighten the score at 3 once again. The Eagles started the fourth quarter with another promising drive but was stopped by a great defensive play by the Pats D which led to a 42 Yd FG by rookie sensation Jake Elliot who had been money all season. In some way however this had to have felt like a win for the Pats D as they had trouble keeping the Birds out of the end zone the entire second half. The Patriots offense took the field and with no surprise, scored again. Tom Brady was painting a canvas for all to see and his muse  was Rob Gronkowski, connecting to him for his second TD catch of the game. The Pats had taken a one point lead and the Eagles had to respond one more time if they wanted to take home the hard ware for the city. What transpired next, was the single most important drive in Philadelphia sports history. The Eagles offense had to score or lets face it, the game was over. The Eagles faced an early 4th down on their own side of the field with plenty of time remaining by big ball Doug rolled the dice again, going for it and converting. Nick Foles like he had done all night, acted like a seasoned vet, controlling the clock and moving the ball with pinpoint accuracy. The Eagles had advanced to the Patriot’s side of the field and were in striking distance with time running down. On a huge third down, Nick Roles delivered a strike to a guy who has come up huge all season, Zach Ertz. The ball was caught and then dove in for a go ahead score with 2:21 to play. The Eagles failed on the 2 point conversion to go ahead by 7, and gave the ball back to Brady, holding on to a 5 point year all season. They were one stop away and had to rely on a defense who although struggled today, had been huge all season. On the second play of the drive, Brandon Graham finally got to Brady and stripped the ball away from his hands. The ball was on the ground. Remember when I took you back to draft night and said what impact Barnett would have on the season as a rookie?

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The rookie had scooped the ball up and the Eagles had taken control of the ball game. Not to throw in a bias but this is the only point in the game that I thought we would actually win this ballgame. Not because I didn’t believe in this team, I just know how this Patriots team is and know how good TB12 is. The Eagles were one first down away from their first ever SB. They failed to get the first down but Jake Elliot nailed a huge field goal, giving the Eagles an 8 point lead. After a bad kickoff return, the Patriots now had just over a minute to drive 91 yards with no timeouts to even force OT. All momentum was shifting in the Eagles favor but you can never count this Patriots team out until the clock hits :00. After numerous dink and dunks, it all came down to one play. With nine seconds to go, Tom Brady threw up a Hail Mary to the end zone in which would become the last play of the game. The ball was in the air forever man, it was as if time stood still. The Eagles secondary knocked the ball down and the game was over. They had done it. It only took 52 tries but the Philadelphia Eagles were finally Super Bowl Champions. The Eagles won Super Bowl LII by the score of 41-33 in a day that will never be forgotten by millions of people who have been waiting for this very moment their entire lives.

The kid from Austin, Texas who was seriously contemplating retirement after being let go by the Rams, was now not only a Super Bowl champion but a Super Bowl MVP. Foles finished with the greatest three game run at the QB position  we have ever seen in the city of Philadelphia and will never have to buy a meal in this city again. Foles showed up when the lights were the brightest, throwing for 373 yards to go along with 3 TD passes, one TD reception and out dueled the greatest QB to ever play the game in Tom Brady. I don’t know about you, but I smell a new statue being built near the Linc.

To conclude, this Super Bowl is for the fans. The fans that have lived and died for this team their entire life and never thought they would live to see the day. Because let’s be honest; the true and through have been through some ups with this team, but a SHIT LOAD of downs. This is for the fans that sit in the freezing rain at the Vet or at the Linc during a blowout, not in our favor but stay all four quarters. These are for the people who gather together on Sunday in their Eagles gear and have meatballs and roast beef marinated in the crock pot on a roll from Italian Peoples Bakery.  These are for the fans who wouldn’t miss a game for the world, even if you are in Disney World and have to scramble home to make it in time just to watch a shitty stream on your laptop as they kill the Bears. (Okay you got me that one was me!) Never forget this team, never forget this moment, we are the champions of the world and NOBODY can take that away from us. We are all that we got and sure as hell all that we need. Soak this up, live it up and just enjoy it. Fly Eagles Fly.

I have been waiting for this moment my entire life, so I had to capture my excitement on video and share it with you guys! *Warning head phone users!* 

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