Out of context, the Eagles’ locker room Saturday night — minutes after defeating the Falcons 15-10 and punching a ticket to host the NFC Championship game next Sunday — was a wild sight.
Players were barking like dogs, jumping up and down, the Eagles 66-year-old owner was break dancing and Lane Johnson and Chris Long were wearing dog masks.
Lane Johnson (pictured here) and Chris Long ordered “underdog” masks from Amazon this week to break out postgame. pic.twitter.com/bkhDkbd0Ly
— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) January 14, 2018
But after triumphing as the first ever No. 1 overall seed staked as an underdog in NFL history, the locker room was the place to be.
what do you call this dance? pic.twitter.com/fVUGidJRlc
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) January 14, 2018
The Eagles lost Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles and Jordan Hicks — arguably four of the most important players on the team. With Nick Foles yielding little confidence from gamblers or television analysists as the Eagles new leader, the negative thoughts were “force fed” to players, as head coach Doug Pederson said.
“It was hard for us not to hear it,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said.
Which made the celebration even more sweet Saturday.
“Nobody has given us a chance,” Pederson said, looking back to the December ACL tear that ended Wentz’ season. “I understand Carson is a great player but every week our players are hearing the same thing that all of a sudden, we’re not good enough. We are 13-3. We have the best record in football. We have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs… it really doesnt matter what you guys [in the media] talk about. I will go to bat for every one of those guys, I will go to war for everyone of those guys in the locker room.”
The emotional release was palpable, as players took time to celebrate their achievements and reflect on the fact that they are just one win away from going to the Super Bowl.
“Most of them have nevee played, they get paid to talk, ” Brandon Graham, who had a key tackle for loss in the final defensive siand said. “And like I say in this room, we’re not worried about all that. In the beginning no one gave us a chance even with Carson. We have to go out there and take when we know is ours. We are one step away from being where we want to be and that’s the Super Bowl.”
As for the dog masks?
“Thats kind of crazy to me,” Pederson said.