MINNEAPOLIS (CBS) — You could see it from this place of no color where each morning feels like you’re waking up under an Arctic horizon. The 10-mile high mushroom cloud of Philadelphia joy brightened the sky of this frigid tundra with the energy of a million suns.
You could hear it from here, too, the blaring sound of a thousand car horns on Broad and Pattison, Passyunk Avenue, Frankford and Cottman, and the screams, and the hollering, and the many tears of happiness, amid reminiscent sobs for the faithful that bore through the voluminous lean years who weren’t around to see this glorious moment with their own eyes.
The long dirge is over.
The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions!
It erases the myriad peccadillos of playoffs past. Gone is the ghost of Ricky Manning; Barry Gardner finally caught up to Joe Jurevicius; Donovan McNabb stopped puking in the Jacksonville gloom; Ron Jaworski finished playing catch with Rod Martin and the fog lifted over Chicago.
It’s a team whose charm reached the cosmos. Not even asteroid 2002 AJ129, spanning one-third of a mile that hurtled past earth at some 76,000 mph on Super Bowl Sunday, could ruin this. In past years, you could see it happening, couldn’t you? The Eagles win the Super Bowl—and an asteroid collides with the earth, “Armageddon” style, to end it all.
Not this year.
Not with this team.
The city of Philadelphia, the new capital of the football world, rejoiced after 58 years of impatiently waiting to win another National Football League championship—and their first Super Bowl. It’s the fourth time in franchise history that the Eagles are NFL champions (1948, 1949, 1960 and 2018), and first since the Eagles beat one legendary team in 1960, the Vince Lombardi Green Bay Packers.
On Sunday, the Birds beat another renowned team, the five-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, 41-33, in a game of fastbreak football in this transparent crystal cathedral called U.S. Bank Stadium. They won by baffling the so-called genius, stone-faced Bill Belichick. They did it by pounding the Patriots defense for 323 yards of offense by halftime and scoring on four of their first six possessions.
They did it by converting 10 of 15 third downs, including the go-ahead touchdown with 2:21 left to play. They did it by being the far more physical team.
They did it because Doug Pederson remained bold, with trick plays on fourth down, and play-action on third-and-short. He didn’t change who he is, as many coaches do when facing “The Hoodie.”
They did it with unimaginable plays in desperate moments.
And they did it with the least-likely band of any Super Bowl champ in NFL history. The 2017 Eagles will resonate through time for their unwanted coach, backup quarterback who contemplated retirement, a general manager who two years prior was a glorified equipment manager, a solid corps of veteran castoffs, who some doubted would even make the team. They carried a collective never-quit, wrought-iron will that personified the hardscrabble city of Philadelphia so well.
The names will be forever etched in the Philly sports psyche: Pederson, Roseman, Foles, Wentz, Cox, Jenkins, Long, Jeffery, Agholor, Kelce, Brooks, Johnson, Ertz, Jernigan, Graham, Curry, Blount, Ajayi, Robinson, Mills, Darby, Jones, Bradham, Kendricks, McLeod, Wisniewski, Peters, Sproles, Hicks, Maragos, Elliott and least we never forget Halapoulivaati.
And now Foles is a Super Bowl MVP. Foles threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns in the Super Bowl win.
That’s what this Eagles team did. They made Philadelphia implode.
Some, through the course of time, may even have statues of themselves in front of Lincoln Financial Field (like Wentz and Pederson, if they win a couple more of these).
So how will this team be remembered?
As a lovable, overachieving group that came together as a family. A year ago, the Pro Bowl right side of the offensive line, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson, had an army of doubters. Brooks missed a few games battling an anxiety disorder and Johnson had served a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. This season, they were arguably the NFL’s best guard-tackle tandem. Cornerback Patrick Robinson played so poorly during the preseason that there was serious speculation if he would even make the team. All he did was come up with big play, after big play, including the 50-yard pick-six in the NFC championship that jump-started the Eagles.
Then there were the injuries—grave losses like perennial Pro Bowler and future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters, who was experiencing one of his best years, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, a game-changer with a penchant for creating turnovers, special teams staple Chris Maragos, running back Darren Sproles—and then the heart and soul was cut out when Wentz was lost in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Rams in early December. Hope seemed gone.
“We wouldn’t let it go,” said Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the leaders who envisioned this type of team when he came to the Eagles four years ago. “All you had to do was look at the guy next to you. That was enough. This was a team where anyone could look anyone else in the eye and know they’re going to get their best. It’s a bond that’s formed that was never going to break.”
It never did. These indelible Eagles won every meaningful game played since Wentz was lost.
Philadelphia will undergo a hangover the next few days. The fan base deserves to savor this, the partying will continue out in the streets, no one will sleep, no one will go to work, and everyone will be groping for coconut water to cure their headaches.
In a somber sense, the cemeteries will be full the next few days, too, of people capable of driving, kneeling before their father, their grandfather, their cousins’ graves, planting a tiny Eagles flag in the plot, because it means as much to them as it does to those who lived it.
They can say it now: Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl champions!
The only thing missing was the John Facenda voiceover.