The Bounty Bowl, the Body Bag Game, even the infamous Snowball Game, will live on forever in Philadelphia Eagles’ football lore. After yesterday’s cold-filtered 34-20 victory over the Lions at the frost-bitten Linc, there’s a new contender: the Snow Globe Game.
The snow was falling for all 60 minutes, with the winds whipping around the stadium like a banshee. Eight inches — it looked and felt like closer to a foot — of powder turned the Linc field into a living snow globe, complete with 300-pound moving parts.
“It was fun in the beginning. I don’t think anybody will ever forget the first quarter,” linebacker Connor Barwin said. “You couldn’t even see, with the snow coming down so hard and the white jerseys, it was really hard to tell who had the ball, which way they were running, I think everybody will remember that one.”
At one point, the refs had to pause the game and let the grounds crew plow because they couldn’t see the goal line. Both teams reverted to college rules, going for two-point conversions, instead of risking a botched kick. A lone extra-point try by Detroit was blocked.
“At times during a game, the crap is going to hit the fan,” head coach Chip Kelly said. “You show up here this morning, and our weather report was it wasn’t going to snow until halftime. It didn’t turn out really well, but we both had the same field. It’s not like one team benefited from it.”
Many Eagles players had never played in snow before, but they grew giggly as school children when reflecting on their first experience. Rookie right tackle Lane Johnson, born and raised in Texas, took it to a new level when he sprawled out and made a snow angel following LeSean McCoy’s 57-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“I kind of baseball slid, did it and then got out of there,” Johnson said. “That was stupid on my part because they should have called a penalty on that. In the heat of the moment, that was the first one I’ve ever done and probably the last.”
Johnson paved the way for McCoy on that run and many others. With the snow pelting the turf, the Eagles employed a downhill, power running game. It was a change of pace for a running back who has a made a career out of juking defenders out of their jock straps with his lateral moves. McCoy thrived in the second half and churned out huge chunks of yardage running in between the tackles.
“People don’t really know. They see the moves that I make, but I actually like to run between the tackles. It gives me so much leverage in terms of being able to go up the middle, bring it outside, or reverse it. I actually like to run in between the tackles. You can see your holes, and today the guys up front gave me so much room to work.”
McCoy’s 217 rushing yards — 148 yards in the fourth quarter alone – set a new single-game franchise record previously held by Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren. When McCoy cut back and hurdled a Lions defender, then raced 40 yards into the end zone, the stadium let out a collective wow.
“We’ve seen him do those ridiculous cuts all season long, but to do those in this type of weather, wow,” said Barwin. “I mean we all fell and we didn’t have the ball in our hands or anyone coming at us, so for him to be able to do that, not fumble the ball once, I mean it’s really incredible.”
Barwin said he lost his footing at least half a dozen times despite wearing his long cleats to help with traction. Nick Foles said it reminded him of being a kid again and running around in the backyard, playing pitch and catch with his friends, like he did on a 19-yard touchdown strike to DeSean Jackson.
“You just have to make plays and just try to give them a chance,” Foles said. “You cannot really zip balls, you just have to lob them up there and just say. ‘Hey, one of you go up there and get it and make a play.’”
Johnson, fully recovered from his ill-advised snow angel, shared everyone’s enthusiasm. He’ll remember this one for a long, long time.
“Felt like a bunch of big kids out there. It was funny seeing guys slip, you know, a bunch of big bodies out there, it was like Cows On Ice. That’s what it was like,” Johnson joked. “I’ve been introduced [to East Coast football] and this will be a game I’ll always remember.”
One hour after the final whistle, the field was still covered in a white sheet. The bright yellow goal posts were the only things distinguishing it as a football field, a place that had just added a new chapter to the Eagles’ history book. It marked the first time in franchise history that the Birds had been blanked in the first half, then scored 34 in the second half.
“It was interesting to me just to see how those guys were excited about playing in it, and I thought our fans – I don’t know if I would have been sitting out there, I can tell you that, but they were awesome,” Kelly said. “It was a very, very difficult day and a lot of people contributed to it, but we’re excited to be where we are right now.”
More importantly, the victory — the team’s fifth straight — was the kind of statement win that had been missing from their resume. When Brent Celek slid feet first into the snow — staying in bounds and giving himself up with less than two minutes left — instead of marching in for the touchdown, the game was over. The Eagles are for real.
“Just knowing that the game was over, it was a good feeling,” Celek said. “It was real big. Especially, for us as a team, to be down like that, in these conditions, you know it’s going to be hard to come back. To do what we did … I thought that was big for our team.”