Yesterday, along with 10 other Eagles fans, I crammed into the world's smallest space to watch the game. It was my buddy Fearce's living room, which is actually a converted garage the size of a phone booth. (I don't think you could park a Cooper Mini in there, but whatever.) Combine the close quarters with the fact that the Birds started slowly, and you'd have expected a riot from that crowd. Or, at the very least, some reflexive vandalism.
Instead, everyone was fairly positive from the beginning. Maybe that was because the World Series had softened us. Maybe that was because everyone kept saying how the Eagles had been "playing with house money" since backing into the playoffs. Maybe it was because, even though the Eagles didn't play so well at the start, the Giants were even worse. Or maybe the good mood is our reward for all those years of suffering.
However this has happened, the season that once made so many of us blind mad has taken an unanticipated turn indeed. Anyone who says he foresaw the Eagles advancing to the NFC championship game in Arizona is either highly medicated or a shameless liar.
Either way, here the Eagles are - one game away from another Super Bowl. One game from sending another Philadelphia team to Tampa for the second momentous sporting event in just over three months. Incredible.
Best of all, while the Eagles are on the way up, yet another New York team is finished. While my friends - and probably yours, too - were rejoicing after the sixth-seeded Eagles dispatched the overrated Giants, the television cut to a commercial. As Daniel Powter's "You had a bad day" pumped through the speakers, you couldn't help but think of Eli Manning and the Giants - and smile.
Say what you will about the Prince of Darkness, but the guy delivers.
Cheers Jim Johnson's defense:
The fourth-down stops in the fourth quarter were just two of the big plays his unit made.
Andy Reid: Credit where it's due: That was an awfully nice win.
Asante Samuel: Once more, with feeling: The money the Eagles gave him was well-spent.
Eli Manning: Manning - who played almost as poorly as Carolina's Jake Delhomme - was sporting his famous sourpuss all day. They should weaponize that guy's face and put it in a spray bottle. It would be exponentially more powerful than Mace.
Brent Celek: There's nothing like an easy touchdown to make a bunch of New Yorkers whine.
Kevin Curtis: He saved a touchdown after Donovan McNabb's second interception. He also dropped a pass that hit him in the face mask, but forgiveness is easy when the Cardinals are up next.
NFC championship: What a great time to live in Philly.
Toward the end of the fourth quarter, in the middle of a play by the Giants, the television feed cut away from the game. It was replaced by a promotion for John Bolaris and the weather team. Thereafter, the sky darkened and cursing rained down on Philadelphia, while an angry front swept through the area.
Tucked in: Justin Tuck forced the safety, but that was still a sloppy play by McNabb.
Forcing it: When McNabb throws picks, he really unleashes some doozies. The interception he threw in the second quarter was Michael Jackson ugly.
Mic check You don't say:
During the ESPN pregame show, Emmitt Smith was asked about the Eagles' chances to win on the road, just as the Cardinals and Ravens had done the day before. Smith dismissed the idea. Why? Because the Eagles faced matchup problems? Because of something Smith saw on the game film? Not exactly. "Because yesterday was yesterday," Smith explained. That's the kind of expert analysis you can get only from a Cowboys-running-back-turned- stuttering-TV-talking-head.
Please stop: We get it. It's windy at the Meadowlands. Is every television reporter contractually obligated to remind us?
If you haven't seen the ESPN interview with Adam "Pacman" Jones, you should immediately seek it out online. There's high comedy, and then there's Jones denying his involvement in another strip-club shooting. . . . "Earth, Wind and Fire" is the worst sports nickname since Harold Miner called himself "Baby Jordan." . . . I kind of like Jeff Lurie's playoff beard. He looks like a Bond villain. . . . Have you made reservations for Tampa yet?
Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or firstname.lastname@example.org.