In this Eagles’ Tale Of Two Seasons, a football team went from nearly dead on arrival with a 4-6 record to one that is a weekly heart attack as it wins games by the skin of its collective teeth. This is a lesson in The Magic Of Believing, and if you don’t think that what is happening between the ears has impacted the play on the field, you just don’t understand how it works in the world of sports.
“We’re just playing better football and we have a team that believes in everything we’re doing,” coach Doug Pederson said. “Confidence is a big part of it. We’ve been in tight games, games that go down to the end, and we’re finding a way to win. That’s the thing: No matter how it’s happening, we’re finding a way to win.”
Finding a way to win on Sunday against the 13-3 New Orleans Saints will take a lot of work. The Saints pasted the Eagles 48-7 two months ago, the lowlight of the season for Philadelphia. It was also the turning point for the Eagles, who have won six of their seven games since that debacle. They’ve done it despite a rash of injuries that depleted the defensive secondary, drained the running back position and necessitated a switch at quarterback from Carson Wentz to Nick Foles.
Instead of relying on Wentz to carry the offense, the Eagles are rallying around Foles, who has been brilliant despite some flaws.
His 12-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Golden Tate on a fourth-and-goal play from Chicago’s 2-yard line on Sunday was inspiring. Foles came up clutch once again, as he’s done since replacing Wentz in the 2017 regular season after Wentz suffered a knee injury. All Foles did was lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl.
It’s more than Foles, though, and it’s going to take much more than Nick Foles to defeat the Saints on Sunday. Somehow, some way, the Eagles have to disrupt a Saints offense that averages 34 points a game at home and pierce a New Orleans defense that stomped the Eagles in the first meeting this season. The Eagles have to play an A-plus game to win on Sunday, and they know it. The offensive line has to be great. The defensive line has to rattle Saints quarterback Drew Brees and force some turnovers.
It won’t be easy, but it’s a one-game season and in those instances, anything can happen.
“This is a different situation, a tough situation,” center Jason Kelce said. “But that’s why they play the games. We love challenges. This is definitely a challenge.”
They are underdogs, significant ones, and the Eagles must come up with more magic to advance to the NFC Championship Game. Why would you doubt them?
There is something special about this team as it ramps up for the Saints, something that gives the Eagles a chance against the mightiest of opponents. This is a roster that has withstood the impact of wall-to-wall injuries, and yet the Eagles are still standing.
They’re alive because they’ve bought in to what Doug Pederson and his coaching staff are doing and saying.
They are alive because they have The Magic Of Believing, something that has helped carry the Eagles far beyond where anyone thought was possible two months ago. ••