New Jersey

Believing Now? You Should… Eagles Are in Super Bowl

Corey Clement stood in his locker unable to put a coherent thought together.

"It feels fake right now," the rookie running back from Glassboro, New Jersey, said. "It's surreal. Is this even really happening? This is unbelievable."

Then he looked over at Alshon Jeffery in the next locker.

"Hey, Alshon," Clement said. "Alshon, man. I don't even know what to say. Are we really going to the Super Bowl?"

They really are going to the Super Bowl.

Imagine that.

The Eagles demolished the Vikings, 38-7, Sunday night in the NFC Championship Game and will face Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the hated Patriots in Super Bowl LII Feb. 4 in Minneapolis (see Roob's observations).

Surreal is a pretty good word.

They're in the Super Bowl because Nick Foles is rediscovering his 2013 magic, they're in the Super Bowl because this defense is legitimately the best in the NFL, there in the Super Bowl because Doug Pederson is proving to be nothing less than a brilliant play-caller, and they're in the Super Bowl because 53 guys that very few outsiders believed in never stopped believing in themselves.

"It's something we said it yesterday, we all got a story here, man," Rodney McLeod said. "Every one of us. Late-round picks. Guys other teams gave up on. Guys nobody wanted. And you know what? Put that all together and you get this group.

"This is a group of guys that grind each and every day. Good work ethic. Come and play their butts off all the time no matter what. Unselfish guys. Just do their job. And that's what you've got to love and that's what it takes to win a championship."

The Eagles haven't won an NFL Championship since 1960, but don't bet against this team.

There's something special going on here, and if you don't see it, you're just not looking closely enough.

"It's mind-boggling to me," Brandon Graham said. "We went out there, and we did what we said we were going to do."

On offense? Nick Foles was masterful, becoming the second quarterback in NFL history to complete 75 percent of his passes in back-to-back postseason games. The other is Joe Montana.

On defense? The Eagles spotted the Vikings seven points five minutes into the game, then overwhelmed them out the rest of the way. They're the 13th team in NFL history to shut out back-to-back opponents in the second half of postseason games.

This was as dominating a performance as you'll ever see in the postseason (see breakdown).

The 31-point margin of victory is the largest in Eagles postseason history and fourth-largest ever in an NFC Championship Game.

"To win like that? It's just surreal," McLeod said. "We were the better team today. In every phase of the game.

"Started off rough. They come out and score on the opening drive, that doesn't happen often on our defense. Just told the guys, 'Take a breath, relax, get back to basics.'

"Patrick Robinson gets a big pick-six and we start rolling. I looked up at the scoreboard and it was like 31-7 and I was just like, 'Wow. Really?'"

So it's Eagles-Patriots for the second time in 14 years.

"It's going to be crazy," said Zach Ertz, who caught eight passes for 93 yards. "The Super Bowl is a huge stage and a huge opportunity, and it's going to be a lot of fun. It's something you dream about growing up as a kid, and now we're here.

"No one thought we were going to be here after Carson (Wentz) went down, but it's the resilience of this team and how much we love paying for one another. I hope you guys can see it out there each and every game."

Doug Pederson's only previous head coaching experience was at a high school in Louisiana.

Now he's one win from delivering the first championship in 57 years to Philadelphia.

"I love coaching this football team," he said. "I love coaching those players in there. It's a tremendous feeling, quite honestly.

"And the thing about this team is all the adversity and negativity and everything that surrounds this team, these guys don't listen to that. I don't listen to that. They come to work and practice hard every day and they love being around each other.

"(I wanted) that type of culture in the building where people enjoyed coming to work, and our players and coaches really enjoy that. Now we've got to build again.

"When we started way back in OTAs, you kind of know you might have at least a good team that could compete for the NFC East. As the season goes, you start losing some of your top players to injury. You just kind of see the fight in the guys and the resilience in the guys. Then you lose your quarterback here at the end.

"But the guys just kept battling. For us to believe in one another and now to be in this spot? I'm just so happy for these guys."

There have been more talented Eagles teams. But it's hard to imagine an Eagles team that was close off the field, that was this unselfish, that had such a kinship with its coach.

"I can remember this team showing up in April and talking about being in this place, talking about our dreams, aspirations, and focusing on the grind," Malcolm Jenkins said.

"Guys being unselfish, adding guys along the way that added to the team and continuing to push.

"And every time we won and had some success - and we even had some adversity - the team believed more and more. It's been awesome to be a part of."

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