Extra Points: Eagles looking merry and bright
Putting up our family Christmas decorations requires balance, timing and impressive teamwork.
Same goes for the Eagles' bid to reach the Super Bowl.
All those qualities were on display for both teams this past weekend.
Saturday afternoon required me to hoist and squeeze myself into a cubby hole located in the back of a bedroom closet, an opening that somehow has shrunk considerably over the course of 30 years and 30 pounds. I then crawled between beams to reach the slew of boxes and bags, one of which contains a manger scene built for my parents by the late Mrs. Ruth Maxwell in 1961. It is a beautiful display that has remarkably remained intact through decades of rambunctious kids and grandkids and four Saint Bernards.
The process has gotten a bit easier in recent years, since some workers laid plywood on the attic floor. They did that after patching a hole in our living room ceiling that was caused by me doing an impression of Clark Griswald in "Christmas Vacation."
Getting out of the cubby hole was harder than getting in. I pushed myself through the entrance feet first, then hung off the ledge as my wife, Karen, guided my legs onto the step stool at the back of the closet while I kicked a dozen hangars off their perch.
Once that was done, I iced my knees and watched some college football games while Karen spent hours setting up various ceramic trees, Santa figurines, holiday plates and glasses, and a few of the 40 or so Thomas Kincaide Christmas scenes she's accumulated throughout the house.
Then it was time for the outside decorations.
That necessitated a trip to the shed to retrieve the logs shaped like reindeer; a giant, light-up Snowman and ceramic Santa that sits on the front steps.
Neighbors grabbed beach chairs and beers, then sat in their driveways to watch us put up the lights.
Before he passed away years ago, Clarence across the street in particular would get a kick out of seeing me climb atop a rickety, aluminum, stepladder, stand on the top rung, and jam plastic clips into the openings on the gutter to hang bulbs while teetering on the top rung.
Thankfully, I made it through another year Saturday without tumbling into the bushes and leaves that I've yet to rake into the street.
The next phase involved shoving more plastic clips into the asbestos shingles to hang more lights. Most of the shingles are cracked from previous Christmases in which I tried to get the clips to stick by lightly tapping them with a hammer. Then it was time to string bulbs around the garden by twisting them into plastic stakes, which were then shoved into the dirt and mulch. All the while, we tried to avoid knocking over the giant Snowman, which was stationed between the picture windows.
The coup de grace once again was the lights on the railing steps. That meant twisting and twirling the strings and bulbs around and through the bars and securing them with electrical tape.
Miraculously, every bulb worked, drawing a standing ovation from the neighbors.
The Eagles drew a similar reaction from the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
Offense, defense and even special teams played well in an impressive, 35-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans that kept the Birds atop the NFL at 11-1.
It marked the fourth time in franchise history they've won 11 of their first 12 games, joining the 1949, 1980 and 2004 squads.
Just like me on the ladder, they demonstrated incredible balance. A week after rushing for 363 yards, they took to the air against the Titans. Quarterback Jalen Hurts continued to show why he's a contender for NFL MVP by throwing for 380 yards and three touchdowns, including two to ex-Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown.
The defense stuffed Titans running back Derrick Henry, limiting him to 30 yards on 11 carries, and battered Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill to the tune of six sacks.
Even the much-maligned special teams played well.
The win left them in great position heading into the final stretch of the regular season, though some potentially tough challenges await. Three of their last five games are against NFC East opponents, starting with this Sunday's contest against the New York Giants (7-4-1) at MetLife Stadium.
There is also a looming showdown against the Cowboys (8-3) at AT&T Stadium on Christmas Eve. Dallas looked at least as impressive as the Eagles on Sunday during a 54-19 beatdown of the Colts.
That game could determine whether the Eagles stay on the top rung or tumble into the grass.
As of now, however, their future is as bright as the Weinberg Christmas display.