So, the Philadelphia Eagles were the team of destiny. They were the team with a backup quarterback (who was rejected by Los Angeles Rams last year), suffered through some devastating injuries, were held together by a very good defense and knocked off the Tom Brady dynasty from New England to win the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium. A team that rewarded its long-suffering fans. It was the Eagles—and it wasn’t the Minnesota Vikings, after all.
Sure sounds like it was supposed to be. Those attributes listed above sound eerily similar to the what the Vikings went through this season and were supposed to become. We all talked about them as a deserving team of destiny, but destiny and fate had a different team in mind. And the reason is because the Eagles are a better team than the Vikings.
That notion is as difficult to swallow now as it was two weeks ago when the ugly, undeserving Philly fans were marching the streets with vulgar signs about a sweet old lady from Minnesota. I didn’t see any of those Eagles fans at U.S. Bank Stadium last night, rather just some diehards crying tears of joy and hoping those tears wouldn’t freeze to their face when the exited the building.
Someday, Vikings fans, someday. As I watched the Eagles fans celebrate with this mixture of relief and exhilaration, I couldn’t help but wonder how it will feel for us when it does indeed happen someday. You have to believe that every Viking player and coach in attendance or watching were feeling the same thing, especially when scenes leaked out of the Eagles dancing in the Vikings’ locker room. We at least know now that that locker room is capable of producing a champion. It just produced the wrong one.
But it was a deserving one. Nick Foles kept throwing dimes. The Eagles defense, playing arguably the greatest quarterback of all time having the best game of any quarterback in a playoff game, faltered at times, but Foles just kept throwing dimes. Running back Corey Clement kept gashing the porous Patriots defense, and Alshon Jeffery kept pulling in amazing catches. And the head coach Doug Pederson made audacious gutsy calls that will be remembered for ages. The Eagles didn’t fold when things went against them (missed kicks, an interception inside the opponent’s five, questionable penalties to extend Patriot drives), in fact they dug in and redoubled their efforts.
That’s how they won the game. The Vikings didn’t show that resolve two weeks ago. They were in fact out-schemed and were unable to dig in when the going got tough. They didn’t fold, but they did seem to cower a bit—arriving late and out of position because slogging through the emotional decline from the previous week. The stage became too big for the supposed team of destiny and the one befitting that moniker stood up and grabbed it.
The national media started talking about the Vikings and feel good story Case Keenum playing on their home field in the Super Bowl rather than Foles (who had almost retired before the season) and the Eagles—the team that had secured the number one playoff seed and eagerly embraced the underdog role. Viewed now in retrospect, we should have all seen this fall coming (of course many of Minnesotans certainly feared it) for the Vikings—it makes so much sense.
Part of me wants to say that the Vikings are a ways off from righting their ship and becoming the team of destiny themselves, because that is how it appears when you view their final two games and this final one played on their field. The defense and the head coach showed they weren’t quite ready for the big-time stage and the pressure that comes with it. That doesn’t mean they can’t learn from those experiences, but it really is all about making hay while the sun shines and grabbing that brass ring when it comes around and any other such “taking advantage of your situation” cliché you can think of. This team has that capability—both in the character that it takes and they talent on the roster.
But is it enough to turn that dispiriting end of the season into a motivating force to take another step forward? With questions at offensive coordinator and quarterback, coupled with looming contract extensions on the defense, it is hard to answer that question affirmatively. I hold on to things such as Dalvin Cook returning, expected improvements to the offensive and defensive lines and the choice at quarterback not being a choice between league also-rans but rather among players who have ascending talent or talent with something to prove.
But in the bright, shining morning sun of the Eagles championship, it is difficult to be willfully confident. Aaron Rodgers will be back; the New Orleans Saints will remember; the Atlanta Falcons will want that Super Bowl title in their home stadium; and most importantly, the Eagles look like they are built to last for a while with their franchise quarterback returning to finish what he started.
The sun is indeed shining this morning on the Twin Cities for an incredible Super Bowl week of festivities—it is doubtful that other communities could do what we did here in the frozen north. But we will all never forget what could have been until the Vikings show us what it is with a Super Bowl championship celebration of our own. I still believe that it is still this team’s destiny to do so. It’s time to begin creating that destiny.