When our team is down we instantly come up with the perfect plan for a comeback. Even in a 31-10 deficit, with eight minutes to play, we may muse, “Okay, so, we get a touchdown, do an on-sides kick, recover, get a touchdown, kick, hold ‘em, get it back for another touchdown, force a punt, force overtime, hope for the coin-flip to land in our favor, get in field goal range, and there – done.”
Or we could skip the overtime and return a punt to win 38-31. Eight minutes is enough time to pull it all off, right?
No way. Never happen. No one is so hopeful or naïve enough to believe in such things. Especially fans of the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that has traditionally not lived up to any sort of hope – and especially not after watching the New York Giants pummel their team for the prior three-and-a-half quarters. It could never happen.
But, it did happen. And it happened in less than eight minutes. And I am still in shock.
How is this possible? To adhere to the near-hopeless plotting towards a perfect storybook ending is something that does not occur in football. Not in eight minutes. To be down by a single touchdown, maybe – with time on the clock. Even a touchdown and a field goal. Victories in such scenarios have occurred throughout the history of the NFL. They allow us to match our hope to the idea that it’s been done before, clutch our hands, bite our knuckles, and watch knowing that the storybook ending we need is entirely possible.
But, the comeback the Eagles pulled out over the Giants on Sunday, December 19th, is an unheard of feat of determination and perseverance.
It is unarguable that the Eagles looked sluggish throughout most of the game. There was no electricity in their motions. Sure, they played, but nothing was exciting. They were just another Eagles team. Then, around the start of those last eight minutes, a switch flipped. Michael Vick became the Michael Vick of previous weeks. He began playing his own game. He was confident. He was suddenly energized. And the rest of the Eagles team followed suit. They weren’t going to be tossed around and penetrated by this NY Giants team, and they weren’t going to allow them to score again. The Eagles suddenly seemed bigger than their opposition, and the rest of the game played out as if the Eagles were, in fact, ten times the size of their opponents – both in physical ability, and in heart.
So, how was it possible? Maybe, for the first time since the start of the McNabb era, the Philadelphia Eagles have a leader on the field. They have someone out there to say, “This is possible, don’t give up,” and to actually show them how it looks to play the game when you have nothing to lose by simply playing with pride. Of course, I could be entirely wrong. But, those last eight minutes seem to support the idea.