Eagles Reach Super Bowl LII by Dominating Vikings
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - There were no miracles in Philadelphia on Sunday night, not unless you count the one where the Eagles reached their third Super Bowl in franchise history without their superstar quarterback.
A stifling defense and a brilliant offensive game plan put together by Doug Pederson overwhelmed the Minnesota Vikings as the Eagles dominated the NFC Championship Game, 38-7, to reach Super Bowl LII, the organization's first big game appearance since 2005.
The oft-maligned Nick Foles was magnificent, helping turn an early 7-0 deficit into a rout by throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns with a 141.4 passer rating.
Things changed dramatically after the Vikings, coming off the so-called Minneapolis Miracle, the first walk-off TD win in NFL playoff history, went down the field with surgical precision on the game's opening drive to take a 7-0 advantage.
Veteran defensive end Chris Long, who won a Super Bowl last season in New England, hurried Case Keenum into a poor throw that was picked by Patrick Robinson and returned 50 yards for a score to tie the game.
More than that, the play seized the momentum and the snowball starting rolling downhill on the overwhelmed Vikings as the Eagles finished with 38 unanswered points.
LeGarrette Blount, also a SB winner last year with the Pats, bowled over Andrew Sendejo for a 11-yard TD run and later Jeffery put the dagger into the Vikings by getting behind the defense.
The second half was basically a coronation for the Eagles, who lost their MVP candidate [Carson Wentz] to a torn ACL in Week 14.
Typically that's bad enough but remember Philadelphia also was down a potential Hall of Fame left tackle in Jason Peters, one of the greatest returners and third down backs ever in Darren Sproles, the QB of the team's defense, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, and special-teams leader Chris Maragos.
Yet, the Eagles improved to 15-3 by demoralizing the Vikings' No. 1 ranked defense with a host of RPOs and quick passes.
By the time Foles hit Torrey Smith on a 41-yard flea flicker on the first drive of the third quarter, the party in South Philadelphia was in full swing and ironically it was set to continue in Minneapolis in two weeks, the host city of Super Bowl LII.
Philadelphia is set to play New England, which reached its record 10th Super Bowl by winning the AFC Championship Game with a comeback win over Jacksonville earlier in the day.
The Patriots defeated the Eagles, 24-21, in Super Bowl XXXIX on February 6, 2005 in Jacksonville.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen