The Eagles are taking their dog masks to Minnesota.
“It’s in my bag,” Eagles tackle Lane Johnson said, widely credited with starting the dog mask phenomenon. “It’s definitely going.”
With their blowout 38-7 win Sunday over the Vikings, the Eagles did more than clinch a trip to face the Patriots in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis. They encapsulated the feeling of every Philadelphian watching the game at home, celebrating on Broad Street or savoring victory at the Linc. They brought the fictional story of Philly boxer Rocky Balboa to life, beating the odds, the doubters and overcoming some seemingly insurmountable losses to injury.
“If you told me before September,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie started, “‘No you’re not going to have Jason Peters, you’re not going to have Darren Sproles, you’re not going to have Jordan Hicks, you’re eventually not going to have Carson Wentz, you’re going to lose your best special teams player in [Chris] Maragos – oh, by the way, your field goal kicker, you’re not going to have him either – it’s a lot of body blows at that point. If you had said that, I would have told you, ‘No I don’t think we’ll make the playoffs.’”
But just like the hard-working blue-collar fans that make Philadelphia such a fierce town, the Eagles did on the football field what the Delaware Valley prides itself in doing every single day. Overcoming.
“I think winning games in general starts inside your head first,” Johnson said. “It sounds cliche, but the mentality of a successful athlete is believing in yourself and your teammates. I am just glad to be in the Super Bowl. It’s anybodys game. The Patriots have been there for a long time they need to be dethroned.
The Eagles have opened as underdogs again, ranging from five to seven point recipients according to several betting outlets. It’s nothing new.
“Somehow I’m not surprised,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said upon learning the Eagles were not favored in the Super Bowl. “I think it’s great. I always try to root for underdogs, so I think if we can – it comes with an understanding that this is a very proud group of players and coaches and you tell them no one thinks you’re going to win, you’re not good enough. With all the hard work and success they’ve had, the best record in the NFL and all of that, and you tell them that. It doesn’t register.”
Philadelphia, of course, was the first ever No. 1 seed no to be favored at home against a 6-seed. They beat the Falcons in a defensive struggle 15-10. They were not favored last Sunday either, but they won by 31 points.
“We’ve been underdogs for the last couple of weeks, and our fans feel that and they understand that,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “We’re excited to have won these last two games, obviously. We hope to have the entire Eagles nation up in Minneapolis for a game in two weeks.”
Flights to the Super Bowl city are expensive and so are hotel rooms — and tickets are in very short supply. But you can bet that Eagles fans will vastly out-number Patriots fans in the twin cities next week. And should they raise the Lombardi trophy, their homecoming will be received by a parade of millions. Underdogs, every one of them.