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Career goals for Flyers captain Claude Giroux

Dream Team!

Posted by Eric Fisher On February 4

Nick Foles is the perfect symbol for the underdog Eagles.

He’s been counted out more than once. He was counted out and traded by Chip Kelly, who preferred Sam Bradford even though Foles threw 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions in less than a full season.

He was counted out after losing his starting job with the Rams.

Foles almost counted himself out after asking for his release from the Rams, contemplating retirement before deciding to sign with the Chiefs as a backup.

But there was Foles, elevated to a starting role when Carson Wentz tore his AFL on Dec. 10, in the starring role as the Eagles overcame the Patriots, 41-33, in a thrilling Super Bowl LII. The Eagles won their first Super Bowl title and the franchise’s first championship since 1960, which was prior to the Super Bowl era.

“I’m so happy for Nick,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “A lot like this football team, a lot of people counted him out and didn’t think he could get it done, but I believed in Nick and his teammates believed in Nick.”

A lot of people didn’t think the Eagles could get it done in Super Bowl LII. The Eagles were underdogs to the Patriots, just as they were in their playoff victories over the Falcons and Vikings – and just as they’ve been since Wentz’s injury.

“For everyone that doubted us … we’re world champions,” defensive end Brandon Graham said. “And that’s all I’ve got to say.”

And even though Foles was a deserving choice as Super Bowl MVP, there were so many heroes for the Eagles, just as there have been all season.

  • Foles is the obvious hero. He passed for 373 yards and three touchdowns and even caught one touchdown. Thrust into the starting role with three weeks left in the regular season, he was calm, cool and collected during the Super Bowl, even with Tom Brady, his Patriots counterpart, setting a Super Bowl record with 505 yards passing.
  • Tight end Zach Ertz caught seven passes for 67 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown that put the Eagles back ahead, 38-33, with 2:21 remaining.
  • Nelson Agholor caught nine passes for 84 yards.
  • Rookie running back Corey Clement caught 4 passes for 100 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown after the Patriots quickly cut the Eagles’ lead to three points with a 75-ayrd touchdown drive to open the second half.
  • The offensive line, which did not give up a sack.
  • LeGarrette Blount, who rumbled for a 21-yard touchdown against his former team in the second quarter to increase the Eagles’ lead to 15-3.
  • Pederson, whose aggressive play-calling and fourth-down gambles continued to pay off. The epitome of Pederson’s aggressive gambles was a fourth-and-goal situation at the 1-yard line late in the first half. The Eagles held a 15-12 lead, but Pederson eschewed a field goal in favor of going for a touchdown. He called a play in which a direct snap went to Clement. He handed the ball to tight end Trey Burton, who connected with a wide-open Foles for a touchdown with 34 seconds remaining.
  • Graham, who punched the ball out of Brady’s hands on the game’s only sack, giving the Eagles possession at the Patriots 31 with 2:09 remaining.

Even with so many heroes, there was still a nervous moment at the end of the game. Brady is still Brady. He had to engineer a 91-yard drive with 58 seconds remaining and the ball at the Patriots 9 – and no timeouts remaining. And he almost pulled it off.

Brady moved the Patriots to the 49-yard line, and then, after escaping a sack attempt, heaved a Hail Mary toward tight end Rob Gronkowski (9 catches for 116 yards, 2 TDs after only having 1 catch for 9 yards during the first half) in the end zone. A swarm of Eagles defenders surrounded Gronkowski, but the Delaware Valley held its collective breath as the ball bounced off the mass of players, and then let out a huge sigh of relief when the ball fell harmlessly to the end zone turf.

The victory touched off celebrations throughout the Delaware Valley and across the country. From Minnesota to Florida to California to, of course, Broad Street, Eagles fans were celebrating.

“Not only do we have the best fans in the world,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said, “but now we have the best team in the world.”

The emphasis when talking about the Eagles should be on the team. The team overcame season-ending injuries to Wentz, All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters, running back Darren Sproles, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, special teams ace Chris Maragos and kicker Caleb Sturgis. They were written off as championship contenders after several of those injuries, but the players and coaching staff kept believing in themselves.

Earlier this decade, the Eagles assembled a “dream team” by signing big-name free agents. But this season’s Eagles truly are the dream team.

They didn’t overcome all of the adversity they faced due to one player’s heroics. It required a team effort.

Even during Sunday’s victory, there were some heroes who weren’t as obvious as, for example, Foles.

  • Wentz is a hero in this championship season. The Eagles never would have earned the top seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs without Wentz’s 33 touchdown passes, a franchise record, and his overall leadership in his second NFL season.
  • Howie Roseman, the executive vice president of football operations, was instrumental in building this championship team. He traded away some of Chip Kelly’s mistakes and maneuvered his was toward the top of the 2016 NFL Draft so the Eagles could select Wentz second overall. He acquired cornerback Ronald Darby just before this season, signed Clement as an undrafted free agent and signed capable replacements for Sproles (Kenjon Barner and later Jay Ajayi) and Sturgis (Jake Elliott). He also signed veteran receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith during the offseason, when he also signed Foles.

The unflappable Foles will forever be etched in Eagles folklore. He is the backup quarterback who returned to his original team and, when called upon, led the Eagles to the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

Foles’ performances during Super Bowl LII and the 38-7 destruction of the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game are the two best playoff performances by an Eagles quarterback during the Super Bowl era.

Foles is an unlikely hero, which is why he’s the perfect symbol for the team of Eagles fans’ dreams.

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