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Year of the Dog: A Flock of Eagles Super Bowl Winning Season In Review

Year of the Dog: A Flock of Eagles Super Bowl Winning Season In Review

Sunday, March 4th, marks one month since the Eagles won the Super Bowl.

Not much that’s happened around the Philadelphia area has mattered since.

Despite all external worldly problems, or personal issues, there is a decidedly more upbeat tone, with people being more outwardly friendly in the city, across the PA side Philly suburbs, throughout South Jersey, and (presumably) Delaware.

The Birds Won the Bowl.

At times that simple fact has felt like an esoteric concept, a dream that I fear at any moment we’ll all wake up from.

Meanwhile, The Wudder and Flock of Eagles has been in a state of hibernation since February 4th, the day the Birds won a Bowl in Minneapolis on my born day.

For a week or so afterwards, the ridiculousness became an open question to friends and even sometimes strangers:

“Yo, I heard the Birds won the Bowl, is that true?”

“Yeah man, I heard something about that too”

We’ve now had a month to let it marinate.

Shake off the cobwebs from all the celebration, and take it all in.

Did the Birds really win the Bowl?

Damn Right.

Just because it felt like a dream, doesn’t mean it isn’t our new reality.

The Philadelphia Eagles are reigning Super Bowl Champions.

And as we stated, on New Year’s Day, a few weeks before our hibernation began, "plan on, and strive for, excellence at all times in 2018."

Or to quote Butterfly from Digable Planets in 1994, on the opening line from one of my favorite rap songs of all-time (“9th Wonder (Blackitolism”):

‘I’m slicker this year, I’m slicker this year.”

This is a lovingly assembled, purposely overstuffed, week by week account of how Philadelphia’s favorite team went from being one of the ring-less rest, to the best.

“You want em, I got em, drippin’ like wudder…”

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Week One 9/10/17
Eagles at REDSKINS

FedEx Field
Landover, Maryland
Line: Eagles by 1
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Eagles

Final Score: Eagles 30, Redskins 17
Six Word Summation: Five Game Losing Streak Versus Skins Ends.
Trademark Play: Fletcher Cox Long Reviewed Strip-Sack TD
Wounded Birds: Ronald Darby (twelve weeks) and Cody Parkey (season).

Bombastic Reflection: 

This one was a harbinger of things to come. In the Birds’ case, good things: Carson Wentz showing the escape-ability that made him an MVP favorite, Nelson Agholar turning the page on a turrible rookie campaign to become the Birds’ most frequent target of big plays, a ferocious defensive line led by Fletcher Cox, ending with a Doug Pederson Gatorade bath for snapping a five-game losing streak against Washington and registering the first Eagle W in FedEx Field since 2013. Yeah, that last part sounds funny now, but you gotta crawl before you walk.

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For the Skins, mostly bad: a reminder that Kirk Cousins is a turnover-prone-not-good-enough-to-win-anything-but-franchise-tags quarterback, of an organization with no discernible plan for the future. Meanwhile, Terrelle Pryor is not an acceptable replacement at wideout for Desean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, let alone both.

 

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Week Two 9/17/17
Eagles at CHIEFS

Arrowhead Stadium
Kansas City, Missouri

Line: Chiefs by 5.5
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Eagles to cover in a likely loss

Final Score: Chiefs 27, Eagles 20
Six Word Summation: Travis Kelce Does Lots of Dancing
Trademark Play: Zach Ertz’ late-first-half 53-yard ricochet play.
Wounded Birds: Rodney McLeod (six weeks) and Jaylen Mills (one week).

Bombastic Reflection:

The Teacher (Big Red) wasn’t quite ready to be surpassed by The Student (Doug Pederson). The Chiefs defense hadn’t really started to feel the loss of All-Pro safety Eric Berry just yet, the Eagles were still a little green (no pun intended) to win a game in a hostile environment like this, especially in a rare outing where the o-line didn’t block and the running game was virtually non-existent.

The lesson taught here, however, did help Pederson re-focus on utilizing a backfield that had no real role in the first two outings, outside a few nice runs by Darren Sproles. Week Two’s leading rusher? Carson Wentz. Carries by LeGarrette Blount? Zero. Catches by Blount? One, for zero yards. 

 

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Week Three 9/24/17
EAGLES vs. Giants

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Line: Eagles by 6.5
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Giants to cover in an Eagle win

Final Score: Eagles 27, Giants 24
Six Word Summation: Jake Elliott Becomes an Eagle Legend
Trademark Play: The one described in the six-word summation.
Wounded Birds: Darren Sproles (season) and Fletcher Cox (two weeks)

Bombastic Reflection: 

This was an ugly game whose first 59 minutes and 57 seconds became quickly forgotten after the win was secured, via a rookie kicker picked up off the scrap heap booting an Eagle record 61-yard-field goal as time expired at The Linc.

This game and that kick truly set the Eagles and Giants’ season careening in completely different destinations, one up to the penthouse and the other down in the basement. But things didn’t really start becoming clear until right here. Oddly enough, in both this game and three months later in December, the G-Men played the Eagles tough.

This game also featured the first sighting of Glassboro hero Corey Clement, as well as Pederson literally doubling the number of rushing attempts from the loss in Kansas City the week before. Granted, that number was buoyed by the fact that the Birds were leading or tied this entire game, but still shows play-calling growth.

 

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Week Four 10/1/17
Eagles at CHARGERS

The Home Depot Center
Carson, California

Line: Eagles by 1
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Eagles

Final Score: Eagles 26, Chargers 24
Six Word Summation: Lotta E-A-G-L-E-S Chants Heard Out West
Trademark Play: LeGarrette Blount’s East Coast Beast Mode 68-Yard Rumble, through seemingly every Charger defender on the field.
Wounded Birds: Wendell Smallwood (two weeks)

Bombastic Reflection:

This was the afternoon when Blount’s Nouveau-East-Coast BEAST MODE wrecking-ball status became a go-to for these Eagles, winning over teammates and admittedly this early skeptic.

It was also a game when Phillip Rivers lost his mind screaming at officials and teammates, for the umpteenth time in his career, while Birds Fans absolutely took over the Chargers building in that South LA County soccer stadium they were oddly playing in after leaving San Diego for no real reason the year before, and now possibly heading back if they’ll have them.

Not much more needs to be said about this game’s aesthetics, the Eagles closed it out with a ground-and-pound, while green shots and good wings flew freely over at Wild Wing Café with a few longtime DAWGS on this fine First October day.

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Week Five 10/8/17
EAGLES vs. Cardinals

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Line: Eagles by 6.5
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: The Younger, Better Carson-led Birds.

Final Score: Eagles 34, Cardinals 7
Six Word Summation: A Rough Homecoming for Coach Kangol
Trademark Play: Nelson Agholor’s deep ball snag, heading into a stop, drop (a spin move) and roll for a 73-yard TD past rookie safety Buddha Baker, who teammate Patrick Peterson aired out on the sideline later.
Wounded Birds: Lane Johnson (one week)

Bombastic Reflection: 

This is when you could tell the Eagles as a team were really beginning to gel. Having survived a couple close games, with teams they were supposed to beat, as a favorite for a third week in a row, they took all suspense out of this one immediately by opening up a 21-0 first quarter lead. The Cards did cut it to a two-score game at half, but never really felt like they were in it, the Eagles came out after halftime and pitched a shutout, while tacking on 13 more points.

Wentz went 21/30, tossing 4 TD’s to 4 different players for 300 yards, with an INT.

Carson Palmer somehow threw for almost as many yards, without a pick, but their performances did not look nearly the same.

This was their first double-digit win, in their best regular season stretch: six of seven victories of ten points or more, four by 23 or more.

 

 

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Week Six 10/12/17
Eagles at PANTHERS

Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, North Carolina

Line: Panthers by 3
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Panthers in a cruel Thursday Night home game of attrition.

Final Score: Eagles 28, Panthers 23
Six Word Summation: Birds Win the Quarterback-Bludgeoning Battle
Trademark Play: Carson attempting to Bo Jackson-over-Bosworth Panther safety Mike Adams at the goal line. He might’ve done it too, if Adams’ help didn’t arrive in time. The kind of play you both admire and fear.

Bombastic Reflection: 

This was Carson’s roughest game in terms of punishment taken until, well, you know. And really it was easily more so than that one, until *that* play. Spiked-Vein Lane missed his second straight game, and Vaitai (who would become a crucial player later) was clearly not ready to hold off the Cats after having survived a relatively stress-free matchup vs. the Cards four days earlier. Wentz was sacked three times, and the number of hits was easily double-digits.

Cam’s game wasn’t as bad as his ugly stat line looked, the first two interceptions weren’t really his fault: Fletcher Cox penetrated deep enough to hit him on the arm mid-release and Rasul Douglas caught a floater on the first, the second pick was a carom off Jonathan Stewart bobbling a screen pass. Cam was also the Panthers leading rusher, with 71 yards to Christian McCaffrey’s four, which was somehow this game’s highest rushing total for a Panther running back. Safe to say, after missing him for two straight weeks, it was great to have Fletcher Cox back. He dominated this game. There was also that scary moment where Luke Kuechly looked like he might’ve died after getting mushed by Barrett Brooks.

The Panthers weren’t making any injury excuses though. Oh, wait a minute: 

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Who co-signed that plea cop?
No matter, as we’d soon learn, some deeper issues were brewing inside that building than which intern was using the team’s Twitter. 

 

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Week Seven 10/23/17
EAGLES vs. Redskins

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Line: Eagles by 2.5
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Birds

Final Score: Eagles 34, Skins 24
Six Word Summation: Wentz Makes a MNF MVP Bid
Trademark Play: Wentz’ Harry Houdini disappearance out of a sure sack, then reemerging running down the field for a long first-down run.
Wounded Birds: Jordan Hicks (season) and Jason Peters (season)

Bombastic Reflection:

This was a Monday Night game that saw the Eagles lose their starting signal-calling linebacker in Hicks, plus their Hall of Fame left tackle in Peters, yet Wentz was so incredible that fans still felt upbeat after this one was over at the Linc.

The “Wentz will be…escaping!” line by Sean McDonough, just as he’s getting ready to say sacked, is classic. This game officially kicked the Wentz Wagon MVP campaign into high gear, plus ended any Washington dreams of keeping the division remotely competitive. It was the Eagles NFC East, arguably the Eagles NFC, after this game wrapped with the Niners and Broncos coming up.

 

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Week Eight 10/29/17
EAGLES vs. 49ers

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Line: Eagles by 10.5
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Birds

Final Score: Eagles 33, Niners 10
Six Word Summation: What’s That Niner QB’s Name Again?
Trademark Play: Alshon Jeffrey coming back for the ball behind a defenders back, catching it, then tossing the defender onto his back, running into the end zone for a 53-yard TD, capped off by a TD celebration with Zach Ertz as a beanball pitcher and Jeffery charging the mound.
Wounded Birds: Patrick Robinson (left in second quarter for rest of game)

Bombastic Reflection:

The six-word summation means I really had to Google for that info before writing this. And I *attended* this game, watching CJ Beathard play for four quarters. That tells you where the level of competition was for the Birds against the 0-8 Niners in the pre-Garrapolo Trade Era.

It also was the day that Big Geoff, Ro & I discovered, driving thru Camden for a cheesesteak on the way home, that Donkey’s was closed on Sundays.

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Week Nine 11/5/17
EAGLES vs. Broncos

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Line: Eagles by 8.5
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Broncos to cover in a Birds win

Final Score: Eagles 51, Broncos 23
Six Word Summation: Welcome to the Party, Jay Ajayi!
Trademark Play: Jay Ajayi’s 46-yard first TD run as an Eagle.
Wounded Birds: Zach Ertz (last minute scratch with a hamstring pull)

Bombastic Reflection:

It was at this point that the Eagles winning the Super Bowl really started to look like not just a possibility, but a likelihood. They weren’t just beating teams, they were destroying them. GM Howie Roseman was obviously feeling like it was time to ante up, pushing his cards to the middle of the table with the Ajayi pickup.

Full disclosure: I was more concerned about addressing left tackle after losing Peters than running back, but that’s why I’m writing this instead of hammering phones and looking at NovaCare Center whiteboards with draft rankings.

I also thought Ertz and Peters’ absence, plus the strength of Denver’s defensive line, might result in the Broncos keeping it surprisingly close. NOPE!

This was the first 50-burger the Eagles put up since a blowout of the Bears at the Linc during Christmastime of 2013. Despite living in Cali at the time, I happened to be in attendance that evening. Nick Foles was at both as well. In 2013, as a starter. This time around, in a new role, taking end-game snaps as a Human Victory Cigar. It was his second week in a row reprising the role.

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Week Eleven 10/19/17
Eagles at COWBOYS

The Jerruh Dome
Dallas, Texas

Line: Eagles by 4.5
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Eagles

Final Score: Eagles 37, Cowboys 9
Six Word Summation: Running Roughshod Over Cowboy Playoff Hopes
Trademark Play: Derek Barnett’s strip-sack of Dak, immediately followed by Nigel Bradham's game-sealing scoop-and-score.
Wounded Birds: Jake Elliott (knocked out of the game with a head injury)

Bombastic Reflection: 

After bolstering their resume with a few tomato-can blowouts at home, the Eagles headed into a crucial Sunday Night Game in the Jerruh Dome.

The game got off to a bad start, as some Cole Beasley Part Deux dude in a Cowboy uniform, with “Switzer” on the back of it, found a lane on the opening kickoff, and soon a touchdown-saving tackle by the placekicker Jake Elliott was required. Elliott also happened to get knocked out in the process of making the stop.

The first half was a turgid, slow, slugfest. The Cowboys led 9-7 at the half, the two teams combined total yards was something ridiculous like 160. Then the second half happened. The D-Line began busting up the Cowboys’ vaunted offensive line, laying hits on Dak and creating turnovers. The Birds line and running game imposed its will. Prime Time Wentz started doing Prime Time Wentz things.

Before we knew it, a slugfest had turned into a snooze, as the Eagles outscored the Cowboys THIRTY to NOTHING in the second half, effectively ending the Cowboys’ hopes the same way they’d ended the Skins a few weeks earlier and the Giants in Week Three. You ever wonder why the Patriots win 12-13 games every year? Or why the Eagles seemed to do so for a few early Andy Reid years? It starts with being able to sweep your division. Once you grab six W’s against your divisional rivals who know you best, protect your homefield, and then get some games against bad teams, you’re well on your way to the playoff one-seed dream.

 

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Week Twelve 11/26/17
EAGLES vs. Bears

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Line: Eagles by 14
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Birds

Final Score: Eagles 31, Bears 3
Six Word Summation: Bears Won Turnovers, Lost Everything Else
Trademark Play: Nelson Agholor’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air flipped-turned-upside-down touchdown.
Wounded Birds: Joe Walker (Who Dat? Three Weeks)

Bombastic Reflection:

This was beginning to look almost unfair. The Philadelphia Eagles were a league-best juggernaut by the time they hosted the Bears. I’m not even sure why Chicago decided to show up, their season was over, they were a two-touchdown underdog which somehow didn’t seem big enough, and their lame-duck veteran Head Coach John Fox was in the process of being slow-walked into retirement.

Zach Ertz became the first Eagle to amass a hundred yards receiving in this game. Which is pretty amazing for a 10-1 team to not have one of those until Week 12. But that’s a testament to what makes this Eagle team special: there’s no true go-to guy that you can count on getting a majority of the targets week-to-week. Doug Pederson and the Eagles offense feel a defense out first, like Floyd Mayweather or Bernard Hopkins do in the ring. They might even waste a couple early rounds doing so. Then they see where the openings are and exploit them.

 

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Week Thirteen 12/3/17
Eagles at SEAHAWKS

CenturyLink Field
Seattle, Washington

Line: Eagles by 4
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Fly Eagles Fly

Final Score: Seahawks 24, Eagles 10
Six Word Summation: Russ Makes a Sunday Night Statement
Trademark Play: Carson Wentz’ did-he-or-did-he-not-break-the-plane-goal-line fumble out of the end zone.
Wounded Birds: Zach Ertz (one week)

Bombastic Reflection: 

“Back to life, Back to reality”

Things had almost been going too well, and come too easy for the Eagles.

They’d won 9 in a row, 6 out of the last 7 by double-digit scores, including the last four by 24 or more, by the time they headed into Seattle for a nationally televised game in front of a strong homefield advantage crowd and a veteran team full of championship-tested players fighting for their playoff lives.

In a way, you almost could’ve seen this L coming, but the Eagles were too hot to pick against by this point, since it was December and they hadn’t lost since Kansas City in mid-September.

Russell Wilson had already been used to playing with a shoddy o-line, no running game and mediocre receivers all season. On a night when he clearly wanted to dead some of the Carson-Runaway-MVP hype, he found ways to use the Eagles defensive line aggressiveness against them, escaping to make big plays out of the pocket with both his arm and his legs. Doing so more than our guy and playing one of the best games a QB had during the entire 2017 regular season.

All that being said, Wentz did not go quietly. The ridiculous toss from seemingly a horizontal angle while falling out of bounds to Agholor was one of the crazier plays I’ve seen an Eagle quarterback make, which is saying something considering I was raised on Randall Cunningham, saw every snap of early McNabb and witnessed Mike Vick’s 2010. The game was still salvageable at the time Wentz stretched out and sold out on a mad kamikaze dash for the end zone (notice a pattern here?). The play was fairly ruled a fumble and the call held up by the replay. Not only not getting the TD, but losing possession and the Seahawks getting the ball brought out to their 20, effectively ended the game.

Doug was somewhat correctly criticized for a couple calls he made in the game, but not for the reasons Chris Collinsworth would endlessly harp on, then condescendingly and stubbornly continue to espouse, long after a referee ruling on the replay contradicted what he said.

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Note: there’s a pattern there too.

 

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Week Fourteen 12/3/17
Eagles at Rams

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Los Angeles, California

Line: Rams by 2.5
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Bounce-Back Birds

Final Score: Eagles 43, Rams 35
Six Word Summation: Introducing the Unbearable Flightness of Eagleing
Trademark Play: Caron Wentz ACL blowout while rushing in for a touchdown at the Ram goal line, which would get called back for a hold on Lane Johnson anyway.
Wounded Birds: CARSON “WOULD B. MVP” WENTZ (season)

Bombastic Reflection: 

This week’s trip to the Wounded Birds List I thought would be the deal breaker.  For an accurate portrayal of where my hanging head was at the time, you can revisit “The Unbearable Flightness of Eagleing”.

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And flipping one of my favorite novels by Milan Kundera, plus finding a shot of Prince Harry in a bowler hat like the one on its cover, is the kind of random mash-up of cultural references you’re only gonna find in Flock of Eagles. It’s kinda nice how this became a reverse-jinx against a Birds championship and Alabama electing a disbarred confederacy-fetishizing pedophile.

Let he who thought we’d win the Super Bowl with Nick Foles cast the first stone.

As we’ve stated repeatedly, there’s few things in the world we love more than being right. But one of those things, at or near the top of the list, is seeing the Philadelphia Eagles win a Super Bowl while still breathing.

 

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Week Fifteen 12/17/17
Eagles at GIANTS

MetLife Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey
Line: Eagles by 7.5
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Giants to cover

Final Score: Eagles 34, Giants 29
Six Word Summation: The Book of Eli: Last Chapter?!?
Trademark Play: With the Giants up 20-6, Ronald Darby’s interception of Eli Manning, then hitting the Madden spin-move twice while returning it 38 yards to set up a red zone touchdown.
Wounded Birds: n/a

Bombastic Reflection:

This was a strange game. It began badly. Eli, fresh off a week that’d seen his consecutive games streak snapped after being sent to the bench, was having a bit of a throwback game while finding holes in an Eagle secondary still re-adjusting to players coming in and out of its lineup. Foles was looking shaky early. 20-6 Giants.

Then came Darby’s INT, setting up a red-zone touchdown. Then came a stop and a punt block giving the Eagles a first down inside the Giants’ 10. Touchdown again.

Back in business.

Bad teams go 3-13 for a reason. Good teams go 13-3 for reasons too.

These two squads were two ships passing in the NFC East night in 2017, whether in the 3rd game in Philly, or the 3rd to last game in Jersey.

But the Little Giants did provide a blueprint for attacking the Eagles later used in the Super Bowl, by a team they’d beaten in it a couple times.

 

 

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Week Sixteen 12/25/17
EAGLES vs. Raiders

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Line: Eagles by 10
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Birds in a blowout

Final Score: Eagles 19, Raiders 10
Six Word Summation: Home Alone 2: Lost In Nick Foles
Trademark Play: The Raiders’ last second hook-and-lateral play, resulting in a fumble that Derek Barnett ran into to the end zone to make the final score look far more convincing than this ugly win actually warranted.
Wounded Birds: Brandon Graham (two weeks)

Bombastic Reflection:

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On a personal level, this was not the first Christmas that I’d spent without my immediate family. Having lived in California for 13 years, I’d done so begrudgingly and slightly depressingly in 2004 and 2015. This was, however, the first time I’d done so while actually in my original South Jersey hometown stomping grounds.

That made all the difference. Christmas Eve up the street at the DeWitts, with friends I’ve known long enough to be family, per usual. Then, for a new twist, Christmas Dinner with the entire David Fam over at Kathy & Gene Mariano’s.

All holiday season I was feeling blessed. Then the Birds started playing this mess.

It was so bad, I've had to be reminded on more than one occasion that we actually won this game. It was also the game that really made even Foles’ most faithful supporters begin to feel a bit nervous, which is why Doug decided to start him vs. the Cowboys at the Linc the following week, so he could “find a rhythm”.

 

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Week Seventeen 12/31/17
EAGLES vs. Cowboys

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Line: Cowboys by 2.5
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Cowboys
Final Score: Cowboys 6, Eagles 0
Six Word Summation: Dick Clark’s Not-So-Rockin’ Eve
Trademark Play: n/a
Wounded Birds: n/a

Bombastic Reflection:

What is there to say about this game?

Not much. Doug played the starters long enough for them to realize “we don’t have it today, let’s come back in two weeks for a playoff game”.

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Foles was bad enough that Nate Sudfeld as a possible playoff replacement became a thing that not just Philly sports radio callers talked about, but analysts on national and local television mentioned as well.

It was an ignominious end, to one of the two most successful Eagles’ 16-game regular seasons in franchise history. And ultimately, we all knew this one didn’t matter much either way, as this contest surpassed the Christmas 2012 game for most meaningless Eagles/Cowboys game in memory. At least that one had draft position stakes on the line.

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NFC Divisional Round Playoffs 1/13/17
EAGLES vs. Falcons

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Line: Falcons by 3
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: The Dirty Birds

Final Score: Eagles 15, Falcons 10
Six Word Summation: Sweatin’ End Zone Throws to Julio
Trademark Play: Ryan’s scramble right, then jump ball toss into the Eagle end zone sailing thru Julio Jones’ hands on fourth down to end the game.
Wounded Birds: Every Dirty Bird in uniform.

Bombastic Reflection:

What a difference a year, a day, or a play makes.

Can you imagine if Julio catches that ball? A play easier to make than the snag that shoulda won the Super Bowl last season, if the Atlanta coaching staff hadn’t lost their ever-loving minds, or if Matt Ryan didn’t snap the ball with 15 seconds on the play clock every time?

It’s great to be good, but sometimes it’s even better to be lucky.

Luck was something the Eagles couldn’t seem to find early on in this one.

Questionable penalties, freak plays like a punt hitting a special teams player in the heel, along with a backup quarterback still knocking off the rust, had the Eagles down 10-6 late in the first half and fortunate to be that close.

But they’re luck changed for good in the final 20 seconds of the half, as an errant Foles pass that looked to be a sure interception ricocheted off Falcons safety Keanu Neal’s knee before landing directly in his chest, flew back ten yards in the air on the deflection, right into the hands of wide receiver Torrey Smith at the first-down marker and promptly run up past midfield for a 20-yard-gain (their longest completion of the day) with 12 second remaining on the clock.

Foles and Alshon Jeffrey hooked up on a sideline dart on the very next play and paved the way for one of Jake Elliott’s trademark 50+ yard field goals.

The Eagles now down only 10-9 at halftime, and all things considered, feeling fine.

There would be only two more scores in the second half, both Elliott field goals.

The season hung in the balance for four straight plays inside the Eagles red zone with Matt Ryan at the helm, but the defense, as they had all day, held.

And with that, the Philadelphia Eagles won their first playoff game in a decade.

Now they were moving onto the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2008 in Arizona.

 

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NFC Championship Game 1/21/17
EAGLES vs. Vikings

Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Line: Vikings by 3
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: E-A-G-L-E-S

Final Score: Eagles 38. Vikings 7
Six Word Summation: The Vikings Get Pillaged in Philly
Trademark Play: Down 7-0, Patrick Robinson's mid-first-quarter interception of Case Keenum, and subsequent field-crossing touchdown return, tying the game, sparking the first 7 of 38 unanswered points, the most consecutive points scored by one team in an NFC Championship Game since the last time Minnesota got beat-down in the same round back in 2000.

Bombastic Reflection:

Even having predicted the underdog Eagles to win, I didn’t see *this*. Did you?

Case Keenum folding under pressure? Sure, he’s a journeyman QB for a reason, and Philadelphia is an extremely tough place to play under these conditions.

But Nick Foles, coming off a decent Falcons performance (averaging just 4.4 yards a completion), to roast a highly touted Viking defense with arguably the best QB playoff performance of the past two decades?

Nah, that didn’t seem possible until watching it unfold with my own eyes.

Off this performance alone, the greatest performance by an Eagle quarterback in their postseason history, despite any negative things I’ve ever uttered about his skillset in the past, I’m eternally grateful to Nick Foles.

There was a special feeling in the air this Sunday, that was tangible from the parking lot. It was a fanbase that realized they were playing with house money, and there to enjoy every minute at the table they could.

The dog-mask motif, representing a team favored to lose all three playoff games, two at home and one on a neutral field, despite being the league’s best all year, was a nice touch that gave the team plus the city a symbol to rally around.

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In between walking thru a JETRO lot that looked like Mardi Gras, and watching the Jaguars choke away their game to the Pats with about 30 or so friends in the spot across from The Linc where 95 overpasses, it was hard not to get caught up in it.

Things got a bit more nerve-wracking as it got close to kickoff, mostly because me and my man that I came over in an Uber with, didn’t actually have tickets.

We’d just planned on trying to watch somewhere right around there in South Philly, maybe Xfinity Live or McFadden’s. Easier said, than done. The line to get into any of those spots was visibly unmanageable, stretching past the corners.

An audible was made to hop in the first passing taxi cab (remember those things?) and made a right onto Broad Street. I got out to inspect the scene at Chickie & Pete’s (nope, there’s no need for two possessive apostrophes in the name and this is my story) while telling the cabbie to wait. Things looked perfect for viewing inside the spacious interior, until a bouncer said “the cover is $40”. Nah my man, unless the Eagles are playing the second half inside, it ain’t that serious.

Hopped back into the cab and directed the cabbie to take us in the direction no one else was going: back over the bridge to Jersey, to get seated at the first good bar option before kickoff started, which ended up being Rexy’s, an old Flyers haunt that’s literally the first major edifice you see coming over the Walt Whitman Bridge onto the Black Horse Pike.

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The first drive was fairly ominous. The Vikes went down the field with absolute ease. They then stopped the Eagles first drive and got the ball back, looking to duplicate the opening drive and put an Eagle team not exactly equipped for overcoming 14-point-deficits with their backup QB against an elite D.

Then Patrick Robinson picked Case Keenum, tied the game on a dramatic runback and soon the floodgates opened. This one was over by halftime. Rexy’s, a true Broad Street Bully bar that I’d actually yet to ever enter, with a demographic made up entirely of people old enough to clearly remember those ’74 & ’75 Cup-winning teams from before I was born, ended up being a memorably fun venue for the beatdown. One old man actually told me if I met him back there for lunch on Thursday at noon, he’d have a free Super Bowl trip package with airfare/hotel/tickets. While basking in the victory, I agreed. But feeling like this was at best a drunk promise no one could keep, or an elaborate ruse to extract one of my kidneys, Thursday came and went without me returning to Rexy’s.

The biggest losers in this game weren’t the Minnesota Vikings as a team. It was the coach who ran off the field, and especially the Minnesota Viking fans who cried for the next two weeks about all their supposed poor treatment while inside The Linc during the NFC Championship Game. It wasn’t bad enough that they saw their chances for a home Super Bowl go by the boards. They had to add further shame by going on a national campaign about people being mean to them while they witnessed their team get their ass kicked, from their Mayor on down, trotting out the same tired narratives about a 1968 Santa halftime incident that nobody actually witnessed and so on, even vowing allegiance to the Patriots and showing up to boo the Eagles during mid-week media introductory events as “revenge”, as if any Eagles or their fans could possibly care.

As someone who saw my share of pregame interactions with fans in purple, let me tell you: that was light work. The younger generation is far tamer than prior generations at the same rambunctious age. Consider yourselves lucky that the Vikings aren’t a team Eagle Fans think or care about, and that this game wasn’t at The Vet. As for some of their more scandalous claims, how did all this stuff supposedly happen yet none of it get captured on video via anybody’s phone?

Moving along….to the precipice of a first Super Bowl victory....

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It was the night before Birds Day, and all thru the house,
We The People were yearning, Birds of Prey for a mouse.
The stockings were hung, by the chimney with care.
In hopes that Saint Nicholas, soon would be there.

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SUPER BOWL 2/4/18
Eagles vs. Patriots

US Bank Stadium
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Line: Patriots by 4.5
Nostrabombus Pre-Game Prediction: Revenge of the Birds

Final Score: Eagles 41, Patriots 33
Six Word Summation: THE EAGLES ARE SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!
Trademark Play: Tie between The Philly Special on 4th and goal just before halftime & Brandon Graham’s “Tuck You” strip-sack of Brady late in the 4th.

Bombastic Reflection:

 

Sometimes an introduction at the Super Bowl can be a tone-setter, it certainly was in the Pats first Super Bowl victory over the Rams, when they became the first squad to be introduced “as a team” rather than individually.

In Super Bowl LLII, each squad’s respective music selection told a story.

The Philadelphia Eagles came out to local MC Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares”. Meek’s history, like the city that birthed both him, me and this country, is complicated. It features some fairly infamous L’s taken. Meek mystifyingly at the hands of Aubrey Graham in a rap context, and via the judicial system at various points during his surprisingly long and successful career.

Is there a better dream than native son witnessing the hometown team achieving it’s greatest sports triumph, while providing its theme music?

Is there a bigger nightmare than being incarcerated, and watching the game from a prison break room, when they do it?

#FreeMeek

As for the Patriots, Ozzy Osbourne and the late great Randy Rhodes' “Crazy Train” felt like a fairly foreboding selection, for those of us familiar enough to read the tea leaves, or Seth Wickersham’s exhaustively well researched piece addressing the recent fissures within the organization’s lauded Owner Bob Kraft, Head Coach Bill Belasterisk, and Quarterback Tom Brady Triumvirate, mostly due to their divergent interests when it came to Young-Stud-QB-in-Waiting Gentleman Jimmy Garropollo.

When Super Bowl 49 Hero Malcolm Butler, was seen crying on the sideline during the national anthem, something said it wasn’t out of an overwhelming sense of national pride. It was more the realization that his Patriots career had died, while he was now attending a three-hour funeral service for it, in front of a few hundred million people around the world.

Mental wounds not healing
Life's a bitter shame
I'm going off the rails on a crazy train

Even after the loss, the Pats once again will open up the 2018 regular season as the odds-on favorites in Vegas to recapture Super Bowl Championship glory.

But make no mistake, Tom’s 41, Bill’s likely not far from done, and February 4th, 2018 being marked as the official end date for the modern era’s greatest NFL dynasty is still very much in play.

Speaking of February 4th, it also happens to be a couple people’s birthday’s: mine, as well as late Eagle great Jerome Brown. There can be no better present to ever receive, then being able to celebrate in the City of Brotherly Love, on the night 25 or so years later, that Gang Green finally brought it home for Jerome.

As for the actual game, what more can be said that hasn’t been said already?

After watching this one for the fourth or fifth time, a few #QuickHits on things I may not have seen regurgitated five thousand times:

-I always forget how mad that Ertz false start goal on the one yard line of their first drive made me.

-Corey Clement (shout to Glassboro, New Jersey) was an unsung hero in this game. It was his run that set up The Philly special at the end of the half, it was his reception in the second half that was more of a play worthy of Cris Collinsworth’s endless over-analysis during the instant-replay dead time, which is luckily trimmed on the NFL Network replayed version in order to fit inside three hours.

-3rd and 1, Birds with the ball on the Eagles 44, with 6:20 to play, Foles throws a screen pass to Torrey Smith that gets stopped for a loss of a yard. That was when #53 Patriots linebaker, coming thru unblocked in the same New England jersey number as Chris Slade who I used to choose to control in Madden to rush the passer in my college days, got passed an occupied Jason Kelce and put Foles on his back in the process while delivering arguably the only official “hurry” of the entire game. The Eagles offensive line, along with the undersized and talent-deficient Patriots defensive line, gave Nick Foles a clean pocket to throw from for essentially the entire game outside of that play, and maybe a hurry on the 4th-and-2 pass to Ertz on the very next play. Other than that, between the well-protected shotgun snaps and selected RPO’s, Big Dick Nick had all day.

He took advantage, dicing them up with a bevy of throws coming from all angles and places on the field. Even the catch he made, due to being in the end zone at the time, made sure he wouldn’t get hit.

-Conversely, Brady, who still passed for 522 yards, took some licks in the first half that made him think a bit. As did a few of his teammates:

And it was the Eagles defensive line rotation that finally got home, late in the fourth with the Pats down five, via Brandon Graham bull rush, leading to a strip-sack that felt like a tuck-rule play that didn’t go their way.

-There was still some bang-bang plays after the Pats first turnover that could have swung the game in its final frame. Thankfully Jalen Mills upends Gronk there, or there’s a chance he takes it to the house. Conversely, Ronald Darby jumped a Brady pass that nearly hit him in the numbers and could have been a pick-six exclamation point a la Ronde Barber’s game-ending NFC Championship Game play on Donovan McNabb at the Vet in 2002. Even that last ball, which bounced around in the air for a disturbingly long time in Gronkowski’s vicinity, had hearts all across the Delaware Valley and inside Minnesota’s dome fluttering.

Shortly thereafter, we piled into a clown-car and headed over the Ben Franklin Bridge on our way to Center City, to take in the scene.

The moment we got off the main drag in, heading down Lombard up towards 11th and Pine to park by our home base at Duke’s, after a Super Bowl won in Minneapolis, that city’s greatest cultural export Prince’s “1999” blasted from out the windows of our four rolled-down windows, with people hanging their heads out of each one like dogs, basking in the city street’s glow after the last game of the season had been won by this inspired group of underdogs.

While we sung along and shouted out to people we passed, revelers walking on the curbs were soon spilling out into the street to dance along to the beat, exchanging daps and hand slaps with everyone inside the vehicle.

Minutes later, the corner of 12th and Pine, out front of local watering hole Dirty Frank’s had become a makeshift block party where cars weren’t passing thru without passengers getting out to dance while pumping a song or two.

So, this is what it feels like to win a Super Bowl, huh?

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*cue Christopher Williams’ ‘New Jack City’ theme*

Don’t Wake Me, I’m Dreaming

 

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SUPER BOWL CHAMPION PARADE 2/8/2018
Philadelphia, PA

Six Word Summation: “Fuck Tom Brady” b/w “Big Dick Nick” (these were the two most frequently repeated chants, outside of the usual E-A-G-L-E-S, or “Fly Eagles Fly” fight songs.
Trademark Play: Jason Kelce’s costume and speech

Bombastic Reflection:

Parade Day was postponed from Wednesday (pouring rain) to Thursday (still cold AF but mostly clear and sunny). I got up at around 5, got showered, came to scoop Danielle in Collingswood before heading across the Ben Franklin, taking note of the first book cover spotted on the living room bookshelf: a large black-and-white coffee table book with a cover shot of our mutual fav, Prince, taken in Paris during the making of the Under the Cherry Moon film and PARADE album.

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As I’ve said here a few times since The Wudder began in mid-2016, shortly after my California residence ended and tragically my dear friend Kenny LeMay passed, I am no longer as quick to write things off as coincidence.

Speaking of Kenny, as a long-time DC Fan who when pressed was not afraid to point out that the Eagles had won zero Super Bowls, I’d like to think he watched that one somewhere and it ate at him just a little to see that old trope go.

We found a solid spot to park in the neighborhood, then I could hear “Crazy Train” while walking out into the opening of the Ben Franklin Parkway park.

Why that song?!? Oh, wait, they were replaying the entire Super Bowl on the big screens and pumping the sound throughout the PA, as the growing crowd formed waiting for the conquering heroes to arrive following their trip down Broad Street.

We crossed over from the big park and got situated at a large patch of grass at the corner, just off the Parkway proper.

This dude was in the tree shot-gunning a beer can as he ascended each branch.

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For a second, we actually thought we’d be able to stay in that spot, had met a couple who’d brought lawn chairs who were passing back and forth party favors. But at some point, it was difficult to ignore the sea of legs trudging everywhere but over top of us. holding position seated on a blanket. When I stood up to survey the scene, it was with just enough time to say “yo, we gotta get outta here”, donating the blanket to the city clean-up crew in the process, while making a bee line for open air thru a sea of people spilling out into the street.

Walking a few blocks up the street to the Malcarney's seemed like a good idea. Because while the concept of a parade is fun, the thrill of being in one tight spot for multiple hours at a time, waiting for buses to pass along in a distant line of sight, was less enjoyable in practice.

I don’t know how many people actually attended this thing throughout the city, but I can safely say I’ve never seen a mass gathering of people this size anywhere, and I once attended the debacle that was Woodstock ’99 (luckily we bounced before they burnt the place down).

Throngs of people filled spaces on rooftops, plus sat atop every city dump truck, lamp post, and wherever else they found higher ground.

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It was tough to keep track of anyone when we walked from the house back down.

Ryan and I caught a glimpse of the Lombardi, being held aloft from one of the buses, as it cruised passed a sea of Eagle Fans.

But we were ducking into Krupa’s Tavern by the time Jason Kelce was going full wrestling heel on 'em, with an Action News producer karate-chopping the mute-delay button on his speech, presumably to avoid having to add bleeps.

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We thought the sound might be cutting out, but mostly, we didn’t care.

The Birds Won the Bowl…and we were there.

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Flock of Eagles Season Awards:

MVP: Carson Wentz
Defensive Player of the Year: Fletcher Cox
Special Teams Player of the Year: Jake Elliott
Postseason MVP: Nick Foles
Rookie of the Year (tie): Derek Barnett and Corey Clement
Profile in Courage (tie): Alshon Jeffrey playing a full season with a torn rotator cuff, and Chris Long playing the entire season for free.
Best Free-Agent Acquisition: LeGarrette Blount
Best Mid-Season Transaction: Jay Ajayi
Best Locker Room Leader: Malcolm Jenkins
Coach of the Year: Doug Pederson

Nostrabombus Preseason Prediction: 11-5, division champs
Nostrabombus Weekly Birds Prediction (with spread): 13-6
Eagles Final Regular Season Record: 16-3, SUPER BOWL CHAMPS

 

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