Last week I asked, “Are the Eagles a team of destiny?”
The Eagles answered my question on Sunday.
Destiny. How else can you explain what happened Sunday? How else can you explain the incredible sequence of events that led to the Eagles’ 38-31 triumph over the New York Giants?
Last week I described the Eagles’ success as improbable. Sunday’s victory went far beyond improbable. It was much closer to impossible.
The Eagles trailed at halftime, 24-3. They trailed 31-10 with 8:17 left in the fourth quarter. They won the game.
The heroes were numerous. Michael Vick. DeSean Jackson. Jeremy Maclin. Brent Celek. Even Andy Reid.
But it appears there are greater forces at work here. Fate. Destiny. Whatever you want to call it, the Eagles are wrapped up in it.
Yes, the Ghosts of the Meadowlands have apparently survived and taken up residence in the Giants’ new stadium. But the ghosts’ modus operandi has been to spook the Giants with one big play – a Herman Edwards fumble recovery and return for a touchdown or a Brian Westbrook 84-yard punt return for a touchdown. Sunday’s series of events went beyond the mischief conjured up by the Ghosts of the Meadowlands.
There was Jackson’s punt return. An onside kick. A timely penalty. A punt that should have gone out of bounds. And much, much more.
Sunday’s triumph was about more than another Miracle at the Meadowlands. It was about more than the Eagles tormenting the Giants. It was about destiny.
Destiny is about more than one game. As the word implies, destiny is about the destination. After Sunday’s victory, who can deny that the Eagles’ destination appears to be the Super Bowl?
I’ve resisted the Super Bowl talk. Until now. Basking in Sunday’s victory, I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe it’s meant to happen. As the Eagles celebrate the 50th anniversary of their last NFL championship, maybe it’s their time to win another one.
A lot can occur between now and February 6. The Super Bowl isn’t a done deal. So let’s look at the potential obstacles.
The Eagles control their own destiny with regard to the NFC East. If they beat the Vikings and Cowboys in their final two games, both at Lincoln Financial Field, they will be NFC East Division champions.
At the beginning of the season, that looked like a daunting task. Some prognosticators even predicted that the Vikings and Cowboys would face each other in the NFC championship game. Instead, both teams are among the NFL’s greatest disappointments, getting off to awful starts and firing their coaches.
Watching the Vikings limp down the home stretch – and Brett Favre got hurt yet again during Monday night’s loss to the Bears – it’s difficult to believe they will put up much of a fight Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field. The Cowboys have displayed more tenacity since Jason Garrett took over as head coach, but, with nothing to play for, it would be surprising if they match the Eagles’ intensity in the season finale.
Assuming the Eagles beat the Vikings and Cowboys, finishing the regular season with a 12-4 record, the question is whether that will be good enough to earn them a first-round bye. The Falcons already have 12 wins, so the Eagles probably won’t catch them. But Chicago is 10-4, as are the Eagles.
Having beaten the Eagles during the regular season, the Bears would win a tie-breaker with the Birds and earn the bye. Given what we’ve seen happen this season, however, it’s easy to imagine the Bears losing one of their two remaining games and the Eagles receiving a playoff bye.
Which of the NFC playoff contenders should scare the Eagles? Not whichever .500-or-below team wins the NFC West. Not Tampa Bay. Not Green Bay, despite what happened in the season opener. And certainly not the Giants.
The Saints, Bears and Falcons are the only real threats to the Eagles. But if we look at the playoffs from the other perspective, the team nobody wants to play is the Eagles.
With the supernatural forces seemingly at work this season, it seems natural that the Eagles will face Atlanta in the NFC championship game. Imagine Vick experiencing yet another moment of redemption, this time in the stadium in which he began his NFL career against the team with which he built his reputation, leading the Eagles into the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl. In Dallas. In Jerry Jones’ ostentatious new stadium. Improbable? Before the season: yes. Today: no.
If you had suggested before the season that the Eagles would reach the Super Bowl, you would have been scheduled for a psychiatric evaluation. Today, it seems as if it’s meant to be.
Fate. Destiny. Whatever you want to call it, I’m a believer.
After watching Sunday’s miraculous victory over the Giants, it’s hard not to believe.