By Ryan Horvath
Every NFL team plays 16 regular season games. 17 weeks is the regular season but each team gets one bye week to rest and practice their plays. If any given team were to make the playoffs they could have three to four more games. The first being the wild card game, where the teams that were the wild card selection get to play teams that won their division. The two highest ranked teams of the NFC and the AFC get bye’s the first week because they have earned it through tremendous play and perseverance. The two teams ranked the highest in their respective divisions this year were the New England Patriots, for the AFC, and the Philadelphia Eagles, for the NFC. After losing five all-star players:
- Carson Wentz, Starting Quarterback
- Darren Sproles, Starting Running Back
- Jason Peters, Starting Left Tackle
- Jordan Hicks, Starting Line Backer
- Caleb Sturgis, Starting Kicker
The Eagles had a long road ahead of them to even reach the Super Bowl.
WILD CARD ROUND
The wild card round came and the Atlanta Falcons beat the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints beat the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons were ranked sixth out of six teams to make the playoffs. However, they did play in the Super Bowl last year against the New England Patriots and lost. This means that they knew what winning was like and the proper formula to pull out some wins.
The next round of playoffs was the divisional round. This is where the Eagles would have their first test. The game started as a very low scoring affair. Each team played tremendous defense and did not allow more than 25 points combined between the two teams. Eagles backup quarterback, Nick Foles, has been around the league for some time. He is a veteran player with loads of knowledge about the game, not to mention that the man can play tremendous football. He played slightly above average only throwing for 246 yards, however, he had zero interceptions. Jake Elliot, the rookie sensation kicker for the Eagles was the star of the show that night. He made all three of his field goal attempts and the extra point when LeGarrette Blount ran for a touchdown. Elliot contributed ten of the Eagles fifteen total points and made the longest playoff field goal of Eagles franchise history from 53 yards away. The Eagles defense played amazingly as well. Matt Ryan, the Falcons quarterback, was sacked three times and four of the Eagles defensive players had five or more tackles in the game. Needless to say, the Eagles would win the game with a final score of 15-10. The next obstacle they had to face, the Minnesota Vikings.
Via Eric Hartline of USA TODAY Sports
The championship round came with the Minnesota Vikings who had the number one ranked defense in the National Football League. The Eagles, being down five players, had an immense challenge ahead of them. Nick Foles had an interview before the game where he said that he contemplated quitting football. He stated that the reason why he didn’t walk away from football was his daughter. He said he wants to leave his mark on history so that way when his daughter grows up and wants to know who her daddy was, she can be proud and hold her head up high that her father was a quarterback in the National Football League. He had no idea what was in store for him that week. Foles went on to play and beat the Minnesota Vikings 38-7. He threw for a massive 352 yards and threw three touchdowns. Two touchdown passes went to Alshon Jeffery, the Eagles star wide receiver and the other touchdown was to Torrey Smith, the Eagles second option at wide receiver. LeGarrette Blount also rushed for a touchdown again in this game. The Eagles defense lit up the Minnesota offense as well. They held the quarterback of the Vikings, Case Keenum, to only 271 yards, one touchdown and the defense had two interceptions. The people that intercepted him were Corey Graham and Patrick Robinson. Robinson intercepted him and ran all the way down the field for a touchdown of 50 yards. However, would the Eagles be able to withstand the best quarterback to ever play football and the most winningest coach in NFL playoff history?
Via USA TODAY Sports
SUPER BOWL LII
The Eagles had a two week intermission before the stage of all stages. The second most watched televised event in the world, the Super Bowl. It almost had a David versus Goliath feeling to it. Goliath, obviously, would be the New England Patriots and David would be the Philadelphia Eagles. The Pro Bowl was the week after the championship round and it came and went. The Eagles were supposed to have six players who played in the Pro Bowl however, nobody that is going to play in the Super Bowl will risk any type of injury to themselves during the Pro Bowl. Finally it was time to go to Minnesota, where the Super Bowl would be held. The Eagles got there early and took in all of the sites and sounds of Super Bowl week. Many players had interviews with reporters all week long. The hype was unreal for this game. After the week passed, the big day came. Sunday was the day that the Eagles would be put the largest challenge of the season on the largest stage possible. The Super Bowl started off with everyone and their brother thinking that the Eagles wouldn’t stand a chance. I mean they were going against a quarterback, Tom Brady, who already has five Super Bowl rings already and a head coach, in Bill Belichick, who has coached Tom Brady to all five rings and has two more as a defensive coordinator for the Giants before he became the Patriots head coach. As the game went on the Eagles were looking better and better and the Patriots were doing the same. Tom Brady threw for the most yards by any quarterback ever and the game had to most total yards between the two teams in any NFL game ever as well. 505 yards and three touchdowns for the greatest of all time. Nick Foles on the other hand played extremely well and threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns as well. At half time the Eagles were up on the Patriots 22 to 12. That couldn’t be farther from how the game ended.
In the second half of play, the Eagles and Patriots both made terrific cases as to why each team should win. The Patriots made a come back and at one point were leading the Eagles by one point, 33-32. After this the Eagles scored again however they failed on the two-point conversion attempt. The score was then 38-32. The Patriots got the ball back after the Eagles scored and then stared driving downfield. Brandon Graham was the man of the night on a pass play by the Patriots. He rushed Tom Brady from the outside and stripped the ball. Rookie defensive end Derek Barnett recovered the loose ball to finalize the turnover.
The Eagles then drove downfield and kicked a field goal to make the score 41-33. The Patriots received the ball and began to make their last efforts to get downfield and get into the end zone. If they did that, it would put them only two points behind the Eagles and with the possibility of converting a two-point attempt, tying the game forcing it into overtime. The last play of the game was a hail mary thrown from the Patriots 45-yard line to the end zone to star tight end Rob Gronkowski. With three eagles defending the pass it was knocked out of his hand and fell to the ground, sealing the Eagles fate. They were the champions of Super Bowl LII.
Via USA TODAY Sports
I’ve been a die-hard Eagles fan all of my life. I grew up an hour north of Philadelphia and my mother was a season ticket holder until I was 18. We’ve gone to more games than I can count and every time I am there I find new ways in which I can appreciate the organization. To watch this team all year long fight back after everything that knocked them down was incredible. I have never seen an Eagles team with more selfless play and heart than the roster of the champions of Super Bowl LII. Watching Carson Wentz lead this team as a singular unit until his injury gives me a lot of hope for the future, especially considering he was out for the championship run and he is our number one option at quarterback. Everything about this past season give me hope for the future and I cannot wait to continue my streak of watching every game that I am alive to see.