Eagles Ride Wave of Doubt into NFC Title Game
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - No matter what was said earlier in the week the Eagles were upset that they were singled out as the first No. 1 seed in history to be a home underdog in their first home postseason game.
That came bubbling to the surface immediately after Philadelphia disposed of the Atlanta Falcons, 15-10, on Saturday to reach the NFC Championship Game.
Veterans Lane Johnson and Chris Long purchased dog masks to signify the Eagles' underdog status and each donned them after the win, the result of Doug Pederson's idea to place reminders all around the NovaCare Complex of just how many analysts picked the Falcons to win this football game.
Instead, Philadelphia rode a strong defense and a solid if unspectacular performance from embattled quarterback Nick Foles to dispose of the reigning NFC champs.
And Pederson explained the us-against-the-world-mentality afterward.
"When did Carson [Wentz] go down? Since that point, no one's given us a chance," Pederson said in reference to his star QB's Week 14 season-ending ACL injury. "I understand Carson's a great player, but every week our guys are hearing the same thing. Now, all of a sudden, we're not good enough?
"We're 13-3, best record in football, home-field advantage throughout."
And in case you haven't noticed the Eagles have kept winning with Foles even if the style points have suffered.
The veteran backup entered that Dec. 10 game against the Los Angeles Rams with the Eagles trailing and managed to lead them to victory. He also piloted wins over the New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and now the Falcons. The only setback came in Week 17 against Dallas when Foles and the starters played only a quarter.
In other words, the Eagles are undefeated when trying to win football games with Foles at quarterback and are now 60 minutes away from Super Bowl LII with the guarantee either Minnesota or New Orleans has to beat them at Lincoln Financial Field, an environment where Philadelphia has lost just once this season, the Dallas game in which the Eagles rested their key players for the playoffs.
"The guys are gonna motivate themselves based on what they've heard for the last month," Pederson said. "It really doesn't matter what you guys talk about, because [our] locker room is united. I'll go to bat for every one of those guys; I'll go to war for every one of those guys in that dressing room."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen